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Brad Petersen
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1066 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

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Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
1068 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

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O'Brien receives 2007 William J. Fry Award

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By Bridget Maiellaro, ECE Illinois
March 21, 2007

  • ECE Professor William O’Brien, Jr. received the 2007 William J. Fry Memorial Lecture Award for his contributions to the scientific progress of diagnostic medical ultrasound.
  • O’Brien determined some of the earliest safe ultrasound-use exposure guidelines when he worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • O'Brien returned to Illinois in 1975 and is now the director of the Bioacoustics Research Laboratory.

William D. O'Brien, Jr.
William D. O'Brien, Jr.

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) presented ECE Professor William O’Brien, Jr. the 2007 William J. Fry Memorial Lecture Award for his many contributions to the scientific progress of diagnostic medical ultrasound on March 16 at the 2007 AIUM Annual Convention in New York City.

O’Brien, a Chicago native, earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1966, 1968, and 1970, respectively. He then worked as a research scientist at the Bureau of Radiological Health, now known as the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, of the US Food and Drug Administration from 1971 until 1975. While there, O’Brien determined some of the earliest safe ultrasound-use exposure guidelines. In 1975, he returned to the University of Illinois.

O’Brien is currently a professor in electrical and computer engineering, bioengineering, nutritional sciences, and speech and hearing science. He is a research professor in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the program director of the radiation oncology training program. In addition, O’Brien is the director of the Bioacoustics Research Laboratory, founded by the late William J. Fry in 1946, which is now part of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Fry, for whom the AIUM award is named, was a professor of electrical engineering at Illinois. In 1957, he co-founded the Interscience Research Institute in Champaign. Fry, who died in 1968, served as president of the AIUM from 1966 to 1968. He is believed to have introduced the use of computers in diagnostic ultrasonography.

O’Brien’s other honors include an IEEE Millennium Medal (2000), the AIUM Joseph H. Holmes Basic Science Pioneer Award (1993), and the IEEE Centennial Medal (1984). O’Brien is a fellow of the IEEE, AIUM, and the Acoustical Society of America. He is also a founding fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. O’Brien was co-chair of the IEEE Ultrasonic Symposia in 1981, 2001, and 2003. He was president of the IEEE Sonics and Ultrasonics Group from 1982 until 1983 and was editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. O’Brien has published 318 papers on the biological effects of ultrasound-tissue interaction and quantitative acoustic imaging.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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