Anthony James, the recently retired director of the U.S. Transuranium and Uranium Registries at Washington State University Tri-Cities, died Wednesday of cancer in Seattle.
James also was a member of the Hanford Advisory Board, representing Benton-Franklin Public Health.
"Tony was a passionate scientist and wholly committed to the mission of, and his work as, director of the USTUR," said Vicky Carwein, chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities, in a statement. "I had the honor to spend time with Tony watching him work and, in particular, seeing his commitment to educating health professions and other students in action."
James had been director of the registry from 2005 to July 2010, as part of a career as a researcher of radiation biology and heath physics that lasted almost 40 years.
The registry, housed in Richland, is the nation's collection of physical evidence amassed to provide clues to how exposure to actinides such as plutonium and uranium affect the human body. It includes tissue from former nuclear workers or researchers who were exposed to radiation and uses the tissue and other holdings to assess health effects.
"He was a great scientist with a dry sense of humor," said Sergei Tolmachev, who became director of the registry after James retired, in comments prepared for a memorial service Monday in Richland.
James continued to work as a part-time consultant to the registry through ACJ and Associates, contributing practical and theoretical internal dosimetry experience for researchers using the registry.
"Tony could convey everything in a clear, concise, understandable way, describe and explain anything comprehensively," Tolmachev said.
James and his wife, Jan, opened their home to Tolmachev when he came to the United States to work at the registry with no Social Security number, no bank account and no credit history, Tolmachev said.
James had a doctorate degree in radiation biology and a bachelor's degree in physics, both from the University of London. When things didn't go right, his colleagues would hear, "Bloody hell." He began his professional career with 17 years at the United Kingdom's National Radiological Protection Board, then joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland in 1988. He was made a group leader and laboratory fellow in the Department of Energy national laboratory's Health Physics Department before in left in 1994 to establish an independent scientific consulting business specializing in internal dosimetry.
He authored or co-authored more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed scientific literature.
"The radiation health community has lost a truly dedicated professional," Carwein said. "WSU Tri-Cities and WSU have lost a wonderful colleague and friend."