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In Memoriam

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Christina Swinson Cruz (1980 - 2018)

Christina Swinson Cruz

Christina Swinson Cruz (1980-2018) served as the deputy head of Brookhaven Lab’s Accelerator Test Facility (ATF). During her time at Brookhaven Lab, she contributed to several important ATF projects, including the laser wakefield collaboration, an important part of the ATF’s status as a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility.

In addition to her notable career accomplishments and incredible promise in her field, Christina was an active leader within Brookhaven Women in Science and an outstanding advocate for inspiring and educating young people from different backgrounds about science and physics. She will be forever missed by her family, friends, and colleagues.

To learn more about Christina see the BNL Media & Communications Feature article by clicking here.

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Prantika Som (1942 - 2011)

Prantika Som

Born in India in 1942, Dr. Prantika Som earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, with honors, from the University of Calcutta in 1965. She came to the United States in 1967 and continued her education in The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, where she earned a Sc.M. degree in pathobiology in 1969. Her postdoctoral training in nuclear medicine was carried out in the Department of Radiology of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution between 1970 and 1972. Subsequently, she was appointed as a member of the faculty in the same Department and served in this capacity until 1975, when she brought her extensive expertise in nuclear medicine and veterinary sciences to the Medical Department of BNL.

Since coming to BNL in 1975, Som focused her research on the diagnostic use of radiopharmaceuticals - drugs bearing a radioactive tracer. Her work has particularly made progress in imaging cardiovascular disease and tumors, with an emphasis in cardiovascular nuclear medicine to study heart blood flow and metabolism in disease conditions, and the effects of cocaine and hypertension.

On a personal level, Prantika was soft in nature. She was always humble about her achievements in producing many of the radiopharmaceutical agents that are currently being used in imaging technologies. Her sincerity, tenderness, love and concern for others, warmth and generosity will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have known and worked with her.

Below is a remembrance from Patricia, daughter of Don Sacker, who served as technical support for Prantika during her many years at BNL.

“Prantika has been a part of our family since my brother and I were young kids growing up in Mattituck. Both of our parents spent their careers at BNL, and we were fortunate to meet many of their friends and colleagues over the years. Prantika has always been at the hub of this circle. Our dad worked closely with her, and he will always fondly refer to her as ‘Boss’. She was a dear and loyal friend to both of our parents. But to my brother and me, she will always be Pran, the most generous and kind soul who never missed a milestone in our lives--from birthdays and graduations, to our weddings in Virginia and Oregon, to the births of our children across the country. One of my first memories of Pran was when she holed up with our family during a winter snowstorm in Mattituck years ago. It takes a special person to choose to be housebound with two sometimes rambunctious children for several days. My most recent memory of Pran is when she joined us on a family trip to Maui three years ago. She was so delighted to be there with us, and she took such joy in watching our children, who were about the same age as we were when Pran entered our lives.

She died the way she lived, with humility and grace, on her own terms, and with a selflessness that I can only hope to achieve in my lifetime. Knowing Pran, she didn’t want to trouble anyone with her illness and death. For those of us who loved her, her passing is a shock which leaves such a void, a beautiful life cut short too soon. We can take comfort in knowing she will live on in the memories of all of her friends--this tiny woman from India with the brilliant mind, the great laugh, and the heart of pure gold.”

Contributed by Prantika Som's friends, colleagues and family, including Kanokporn Noy Rithidech, Stony Brook University; Patricia Sacker, BNL; and Christopher Wong, BNL.

More information about Prantika Som's life and her contribution to science may be found on the BNL webpage.

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Victoria McLane (1940 - 2011)

It is with immense sadness that we must inform you of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Victoria McLane. Vicki earned a B.A. in Physics from Adelphi University in 1961. She joined BNL in 1962 as a physics associate in a group that would eventually become the National Nuclear Data Center. Vicki oversaw the compilation and international collaboration activities of neutron reaction data.

Vicki witnessed the thawing of the relations between the USA and the former Soviet Union as the two world super powers started to exchange nuclear physics data. As a matter of fact, Vicki was one of the early Americans to visit Soviet nuclear physics labs.

Vicki was very active at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), focusing on the exchange of nuclear data. She was an expert in the EXFOR format, a set of common rules and procedures widely used to store the results of costly nuclear physics experiments performed worldwide.

In 1979, Vicki cofounded Brookhaven Women in Science, and in 1981 setup the Renate W. Chasman Scholarship for Women.

Vicki retired from the National Nuclear Data Center in 2005. She kept herself very busy by continuing collaborating with the IAEA, gardening and volunteering in an animal hospital. Vicki loved to read, travel as well as attend music and theater performances. A longtime resident of Shoreham, Vicki is survived by husband Peter Kahn and son Craig May.

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E. Gail Williams (1946-2010)

E. Gail Williams

E. Gail Williams - 28th February 1946, Manurewa, New Zealand -5th September 2010, Middle Island, NY, USA

Brookhaven Women in Science was created while E. Gail Williams was the Manager of the Office of Scientific Personnel at Brookhaven National laboratory and we are proud to record her involvement in this group. In her positions as Manager of OSP, Coordinator of Women’s Programs and with her access to people at the highest levels of BNL, she was able to nurture the infant organization and, with the other organizers, bring it into successful existence.

Gail Craig was born in the Auckland (NZ) suburb of Manurewa as the first child of Bill and Mary Craig. From her contemporaries and others, the picture of Gail as a bright, adventurous, energetic, and generous girl is abundantly clear. Gail represented The Mount Roskill Grammar School in Tennis and on the stage. Her Headmaster wrote, “She impressed with her abilities of perseverance and diligence.” She qualified for University Entrance easily but unfortunately an academic pathway was denied by her parents “because you’re just going to get married and have babies.” Resorting to another plan she entered Secretarial School and brilliantly qualified for this “girl profession.”

A first position in an architect’s office in Auckland led from a junior’s entry to Charge Hand responsibility three years later. A temporary absence for a working vacation in Australia was the awakening, however. A wonderful friend met on that trip, and retained today, with all of the excitements and novelties of travel forever banished the prospect of a prosaic career in NI. Soon Gail was on her way on a most ambitious trip. Self-supported she travelled initially (June 1967) to Vancouver Canada. Additional planned stages were always eastward over a period of several years with ultimately a return to NI via Vladivostok and Japan. She had a pen pal in Russia who would help with the details of the final legs. The plan however came asunder when on the second stage of the journey in Edmonton she met and married a fellow Kiwi, Graheme Williams. With an extended stay in Alberta, Gail rose successively to the Office Manager in the Department of Psychology and Department Administrator in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Alberta.

Then, she went to Montreal where Graheme had a Post-Doctoral position. Again, Gail took entry level positions, first with Matthew Shipping International and then with Greenshields, a financial services company. According to pattern, she quickly learned the ways and became much valued in the management of these organizations. Gail’s second year in Montreal (1974) was solo except for occasional visits by her husband who had taken a position at Brookhaven National Lab. It was during this time that her true grit showed when, at seven months pregnant, she vanquished the long-reigning champion of the Monkland Tennis Club. Go girl!!

In the Fall of 1974, Gail joined Graheme in New York and soon after daughter Megan was born. But in a few months, it was back to work for this woman. Ensuring wonderful home care for Megan allowed Gail to again start at the bottom, in the temporary typists pool, at BNL. Her abilities were quickly recognized of course but it was R.C. “Andy” Andersen of the Office of Scientific Personnel who first proffered a real position. From there it was always upwards and eventually the OSP became Gail’s responsibility. Her frequent personal and professional help provided to immigrant scientists, junior staff, entering and senior staff in need of counseling earned her much personal satisfaction and many heartfelt appreciations. Gail was a BERA council member, the BNL Women’s Program coordinator, the USA recruiter for the IAEA in Vienna, and several times the winner of the BNL tennis tournament.

Gail’s bright light was dimmed by her awful Aliheimer’s Disease. She fought mightily the loss of her abilities and dignities but eventually she left us. We all are significantly the poorer but also greatly enriched by her presence with us.

- Graheme Williams

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Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber (1911-1998)

Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber (1911-1998)

Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber was a founding member of BWIS and pioneer in the field of nuclear physics, both as a scientist and as woman who, through her own’s life’s example, helped advance the cause of women in science. “Trudy Goldhaber made important contributions to science, but she also made strong contributions to the Lab as a whole, to women in science, and to education. She made the Lab a better place,” said Peter Bond, previously the Physics Department Chair and Interim Lab Director at Brookhaven National Lab. The Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber Prize was named in 1992 to honor her outstanding contributions in the field of nuclear physics and for her support of women in science. For more information about Scharff-Goldhaber and the Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber Prize, please click here.

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Renate Chasman (1932-1977)

Renate Chasman (1932-1977)

Dr. Renate Chasman was a noted Accelerator Physicist at BNL who died in the prime of her career. She was a wife and mother as well as a first-rate scientist. BWIS created a scholarship fund in her name and we feel that support provided to the Scholarship Fund for a young woman scientist is an excellent forward-looking recognition of Gail’s ideals, her contribution to the group, and her many acts of generosity and service to the people of Brookhaven Lab. For more information about her and the Renate Chasman Award, please click here.

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