In Memoriam: Gordon Blaylock


by F. Owen Hoffman, PhD, President Emeritus, Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis Cindy O'Brien, Managing Editor, NCRP Publications Stan Blaylock (and other members of Gordon's family)

We are most saddened to announce the passing of our good friend and colleague, B. Gordon Blaylock, PhD, a pioneer in aquatic radioecology and a plenary member of the Health Physics Society (HPS) from 1966 to 1986. Gordon, born 31 August 1931, died 24 November 2017, at the age of 86.

Gordon graduated from the Tennessee Technological University with a degree in biology. He went on to earn an MS in zoology/genetics followed by a PhD in zoology/radiation biology from the University of Tennessee. Gordon joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where he spent the next 30 years researching radiation effects on aquatic systems and on genetics, as well as environmental effects of nuclear power and heavy metals such as mercury. Over his career, he contributed more than 100 publications to the field of environmental radiation research.

From 1990 to 2002, Gordon was a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), where he cochaired and served as a member of scientific committees that produced several NCRP reports on environmental effects of radiation. His contributions to the NCRP are summarized in a memorial to Gordon.

He served on many committees of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) throughout his career and was an expert consultant to the IAEA on the effects of ionizing radiation on terrestrial and freshwater organisms and ecosystems. He was a member of two of the very first international efforts to use environmental data to test the reliability of mathematical models and computer codes used to quantify the aquatic transport and bioaccumulation of radionuclides and trace metals. These projects were the Biospheric Model Validation Study (BIOMOVS) (1985–1990) and the Validation of Environmental Model Predictions (VAMP) of the IAEA (1992–2003).

After his career at ORNL, Gordon joined SENES Oak Ridge, Inc. (now the Oak Ridge Center for Risk Analysis). As a senior scientist and director at SENES, he directed the dose reconstruction and risk assessment for historic releases from ORNL of radionuclides discharged to the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. He also served as an adjunct professor in science at the University of Tennessee for over 30 years.

It is no wonder that Gordon devoted his scientific research to protecting the environment. Gordon was an avid outdoorsman, having a passion for canoeing and fishing and all things related to rivers. And to everyone who knew him well, he was first and foremost a gentleman. Gordon will most certainly be missed.