In loving memory of Ben Greenebaum – written by James C. Lin

After Ben Greenebaum passed away in November 2023 at the age of 85, I receive an email from Nancy, Ben’s beloved wife telling me that Ben died on November 2, and saying, “Oh, how I will miss him!”

Ben had been dealing with a neuroendocrine cancer, which seemingly was under control, but he was totally exhausted and occasionally mentally confused. For him death was a release, a quick heart attack.

Ben was a pillar of the Bioelectromagnetics Society. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the society’s journal Bioelectromagnetics for 14 years. He was a demanding EiC but exercised balanced scientific judgments concerning manuscripts submitted for publication. As president of the society for 2006-2007, he applied a high degree of thoroughness, objectivity, and fair-mindedness to the task. Ben received the prestigious 2020 d’Arsonval Medal Award in recognition of his outstanding achievement in bioelectromagnetics science, especially for research in biological effects of extremely-low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields. Ben was a lifelong member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, and he served many years on the society’s board of directors.

According to his son David, Ben passed away at his home on November 2, 2023. Ben was born November 30, 1937 in Chicago to Benjamin Isaac and Maxine (Oberndorf) Greenebaum, and spent his childhood in Chicago and Winnetka, IL. He attended Oberlin College, where he teased his mother by asking her for a set of snow chains for his bicycle. This is the same bicycle he was riding when he once ran a stop sign and earned the only traffic ticket he was ever issued.

While at graduate school at Harvard University, he met Nancy Jung, a friend of the family who was studying art in Boston. The family friendship was further strengthened when they married in 1963. He took a post-doctoral position at Princeton University to work under Dr. Donald Hamilton, and settled in nearby Hopewell, NJ. There he and Nancy had three sons. In 1970, he joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the family moved to Racine, WI.

At Parkside, Ben taught physics and conducted research into the effects of electromagnetic fields on living organisms. In the course of his career, he earned tenure and served at various times as Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Dean of Science and Technical Studies, Associate Dean of Faculty, and Acting Dean of Faculty. He also spent a summer working at the Argonne National Laboratories. 

In the community, Ben was a strong advocate for services to individuals with developmental disabilities. He served on the boards of Careers Industries and Community Care, Inc., organizations both devoted to helping disabled persons thrive, work, and function in society. 

Ben loved to travel internationally. He and Nancy together visited five continents–often attending international conferences as part of his duties with the Bioelectromagnetic Society. They lived for a year in Geneva, Switzerland, while Ben served as an assistant to Mike Repacholi at the World Health Organization. He was the host father to exchange students from Finland and France, with whom he kept in close contact through the years, visiting them in their home countries.

Not a particularly religious person, Ben believed most sincerely in people and relationships, and in the power of truth, facts, and science. His life was spent in dedication to promoting understanding of the world and of people. He is survived by his wife Nancy; sons Daniel, David (Marsha Heard), and Edward; and grandchildren Aaron and Rebecca.­

James C. Lin

University of Illinois Chicago
President BEMS 1994-1995
Winner of the D’Arsonval Award 2003