WRITTEN BY WALTER P. SIEGMUND SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
BRIAN O'BRIEN died July 1, 1992, at his home in Woodstock, Connecticut. He was a leader in the fields of optics and physical sciences as teacher, research scientist, engineer, consultant, and administrator. He received many awards during his career, including the Medal for Merit, the nation's highest civilian award, for his work on optics in World War II.
He began his formal education at the Chicago Latin School and continued at Yale University, where he received his degree in electrical engineering in 1918 and the Ph.D. in physics in 1922. From 1922 to 1923 he served as a research engineer with Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While much of his work consisted of scientific research in physiology, human vision, and several fields of optics, he always applied his training and disciplines as an engineer to the many projects he undertook.
In his studies of the biological effects of solar radiation on tuberculous at the J. N. Adams Memorial Hospital in Perrysburg, New York, in the 1920s, he developed special arc lamps for producing enhanced ultraviolet radiation of the desired therapeutic wavelengths, as well as a unique process for irradiating milk in order to produce vitamin D. One of his devices made possible the ultraviolet irradiation of milk on a production basis using a continuous, flowing, cylindrical curtain both of water, as a shield, and of the milk surrounding the ultra