Page 38 - Spring 2018
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Floyd Dunn and Biomedical Ultrasound
 Figure 2. Bill Fry with a novel stereotaxic apparatus that was designed and built by him, his brother Frank Fry, and cowork- ers to support the head of animals of varying sizes and used for precise neurosonic surgery applications.
Floyd arrived at the University of Illinois in the fall of 1946 as an undergraduate student in electrical engineering. That was the same year that William J. “Bill” Fry (Figure 2) arrived on campus and founded the Bioacoustics Research Laboratory (BRL). Bill’s younger brother Francis J. “Frank” Fry arrived a month or two later. The Fry brothers, and particularly Bill, would have a significant impact on Floyd’s lifelong and amazing career. But Floyd and the Fry brothers would not get together until about three years later.
Floyd graduated in December 1949 with a BS in electrical engineering and then considered staying at Illinois for grad- uate studies. Someone, he forgot who, mentioned to Floyd that there was this guy Bill Fry doing some interesting stuff and that he was a little bit kooky, but everybody thought that he was an outstanding scientist. Floyd sought out Bill Fry to discuss the possibility of graduate school and financial support. Floyd connected well with Bill Fry when Bill que- ried him about his skill in mathematics. Floyd had taken the required math courses (through differential equations) and had continued to take a math course every semester, prob- ably four or so courses beyond differential equations. Floyd indicated that Bill thought that was kind of curious and in- teresting, so he was hired as a research assistant.
36 | Acoustics Today | Spring 2018
Independence and Resourcefulness
There was an element of independence and self-sufficiency that marked the beginning of the BRL. This attitude ran strong with the Fry brothers and likely had a major impact on Floyd when he joined the BRL in 1949. For example, consider the early physical setting of the laboratory. Back in 1946 when the Fry brothers came to Illinois, there was little space for the new priority of research. At that time, the entire Department of Electrical Engineering was cramped into a small, antiquated building, the Electrical Engineer- ing Research Laboratory (EERL). But when the Fry broth- ers arrived, they had been assigned small offices. Needing laboratory space, they set up their offices in a steam tunnel that ran under the Boneyard (a waterway that traverses the engineering campus and drains much of the cities of Urbana and Champaign) and used their assigned offices in the EERL for laboratories.
In the three years between when the Fry brothers arrived and Floyd joined the BRL, the Frys had developed ultra- sound-based projects that were focused on the central ner- vous system. Pursuing the ultrasound biology research re- quired equipment, supplies, laboratory space, and animals. As the animal colony developed, complaints arose about mice in the candy machine in the Department of Electrical Engineering (shortly thereafter found to be field mice, not lab mice). Also, there were challenges with using newspa- per advertising to acquire cats. By about 1949-1950, the Fry brothers had some important successes that would also in- fluence and benefit Floyd.
Funding Challenges and Successes
When Floyd joined the BRL, he became fully integrated with much of what the Fry brothers were doing. However, some of these projects that had been assigned to Floyd had to be dropped because their funding had ceased. This experience indicated to Floyd that there was not a lot of money available to conduct his bioacoustics research, but Bill Fry seemed to be pretty good at getting money anyway. To put those times in perspective: equipment to create, detect, quantify, and analyze ultrasound had to be constructed from scratch be- cause many of the materials used today were not available and the funding agencies of today were in their early stages or did not yet exist. The Office of Naval Research was created in 1946 and the National Science Foundation in 1950. The long-standing (from the 1930s) National Institute of Health (note the singular Institute) at that time did not have an ex- ternal research effort, supporting largely in-house research. In the later part of the 1940s, the name was changed to the

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