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In Memoriam: Stephen F. Cleary, Ph.D.

June 13, 2016

Dr. Stephen Francis Cleary, passed away suddenly at his home on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. 

Steve received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from New York University College of Engineering (B.S. 1958), a Masters in Science in radiation biophysics from the University of Rochester (1960), and his Ph.D. in Biophysics and Statistics from New York University (1964). He joined Physiology & Biophysics in 1964, and worked for 38 years as a research scientist and professor impacting the lives of countless students and individuals.

He was internationally recognized for his research on non-ionizing radiation with a focus on microwave radiation and cellular phone frequencies on mammalian cells in  monolayer cultures and in suspension.  His research covered effects of microwave (2-10 GHz), radiofrequency (1-200 MHz), pulsed high amplitude (~>1 kV/cm) and low amplitude (~1-10 uA/cm2) DC fields, lasers, and visible light sources.  The goals were twofold: to determine safe exposure levels for humans and other living systems, and to determine whether such fields can be used for beneficial purposes, such as tissue regeneration or wound healing.

Dr. Cleary's collaborative approach to research took him to numerous countries across the globe. Over his distinguished career, he consulted for many organizations including NASA, The Department of Health, The Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, NIH, NIOSH, OSHA, EPA, CDC, The Bureau of Radiological Health, and The National Academy of Science. He was a member of several professional scientific organizations including the New York Academy of Science, Biophysical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Federation of American Scientists, and was a founder and charter board member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society.

Outside of his professional interests, Dr. Cleary could be often found on the YMCA handball court, riding his bicycle around town or wandering the aisles of his favorite store, Costco. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family and friends at his second home at the beach in Avon, N.C., where his love of surf fishing and swimming in the ocean kept him active. His other hobbies included reading, cooking healthy foods and tending to his numerous plants including cacti and citrus trees. He was also always up for a lively debate on a range of topics.

Dr. Cleary will be missed by all of us in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.  Those of us who knew him and those who know of him continue to enjoy the many good things he contributed to the department and the institution during his many years of service to VCU.


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