Professor Emeritus Dunn receives William J. and Francis J. Fry Award


Tom Moone

Floyd Dunn
Floyd Dunn

On September 12, ECE Professor Emeritus Floyd Dunn (BSEE ’49, MSEE ’51, PhD ’56) received the William J. and Francis J. Fry Award given by the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound. The award was given for his lifelong contributions to the general area of biophysics and bioeffects of ultrasound.

Dunn had been on the faculty of the University from the time he received his PhD until he retired in 1995. Counting his student days, Dunn had been a fixture at Illinois for nearly 50 years. His research was conducted in the Bioacoustics Research Lab (BRL), which he directed for many years, and he was a student of Bill Fry.

Regarding this recognition for his work, Dunn said, “This is what I’ve done my whole life, and I’ve done it all at Illinois, except for sabbatical leaves in Britain and Japan.”

ECE Professor William D O'Brien, Jr., the current director of BRL, said that interest in therapeutic uses of ultrasound is surging. “We can do some very sophisticated stuff now,” he said. “For example we can use ultrasound to break up blood clots. We can use ultrasound to put large molecules into cells under well-controlled conditions.”

It’s because of the research studies accomplishments of Dunn that these new therapies are being developed. “Floyd was the first to put together a solid basis for how sound and living tissue interact,” said O’Brien, a Donald Biggar Willet Professor of Engineering. How ultrasound affects temperature and cavitation—the formation of air bubbles—were areas that Dunn’s research elucidated.

Dunn said that it was most appropriate that the award he received be named after Bill and Frank Fry. The Fry brothers were instrumental in the establishment of BRL on the Illinois campus. This lab continues to explore and develop the possibilities for using ultrasound in medical and other applications. “In my view,” said Dunn, “Bill Fry was the most influential in this field of medical ultrasound. And his brother Frank was an extremely good mechanical designer.” In the early days of the BRL, when every piece of equipment was one of a kind, “all of what we had in our lab was designed and built by Frank,” said Dunn.

Dunn is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. His research and contributions to the field of ultrasound research have led to numerous awards, including the William J. Fry Memorial Award and the Joseph H. Holmes Basic Science Pioneer Award of the AIUM, the AIUM/WFUMB History of Medical Ultrasound Pioneer Award, the IEEE Edison Medal, and the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society’s Career Achievement Award. Dunn is a Fellow of a number of organizations including IEEE and the Acoustic Society of America. He was a U of I Scholar in 1988, and in 1997 he received the ECE Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has also received recognitions in the United Kingdom and Japan. He served a term as president of the Acoustical Society of America and received their Silver Medal and Gold Medal awards.

Upon retiring from Illinois, Dunn relocated to Arizona. He is still involved in the ultrasound field, but these days it is as a part-time consultant.