Dr. James H. Fuller, Associate Professor of Oral Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry and a resident of the South Loop community in Chicago, died of cardiac arrest on July 2 at age 59.
"He had an incredibly eclectic background that's pretty hard to find anymore and he was a true intellectual," said Dr. Jay Kelley, Interim Head of the Department of Oral Biology.
Dr. Fuller, a prominent neurophysiologist, was on the UIC dental and medical school faculties and was a veterinarian as well. His main research interest, for which he earned several grants, was the motor control of eye, head, and neck movements in mammals.
"He liked to work all night in his lab so he could concentrate on his research without being interrupted," noted Dr. Robert Scapino, Professor of Oral Biology.
"Working in a very difficult area of science, he constructed all the mechanical and electronic equipment to conduct his experiments himself—and that took a considerable amount of talent," said Dr. Scapino. "As a teacher, he wrote his own manual, and his method in the laboratory was to train the best students to help teach the other students. In that way, he could manage a complete neuroanatomy course by himself."
Dr. Fuller was known as a straight talker. "If Jim thought something, he would say it, and it didn't matter who he was talking to," Dr. Scapino recalled.
Born in New York and reared in Texas and in San Francisco, CA, Dr. Fuller earned his A.B. in zoology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1965, his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from the University of California at Davis in 1969, and his Ph.D. in Anatomy from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1973. In the 1970s, he did a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship in anatomy at UCLA, and an NIH staff fellowship at the NIH Laboratory of Neurophysiology in Bethesda, MD.
After his stint at NIH, from 1975 to 1980 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut, and since 1980 he had been at the UIC College of Dentistry, first as an Assistant Professor, and then as an Associate Professor. He published more than 20 scientific journal articles and spoke at numerous scientific conferences during his career.
"He was curious, always wanting to know how things worked," said his wife, Linda Fuller. "That curiosity, coupled with intensity and passion, made him a good scientist. He researched everything he did."
Dr. Fuller had several other interests as well, including Shakespeare, opera, music, movies, conversation, and world events, particularly those pertaining to the Middle East. When Dr. and Mrs. Fuller drove to Bethesda for his NIH fellowship in 1973, he made reel-to-reel recordings of the Watergate hearings to listen to in the car. "We could talk for hours about movies and exchange lines of dialogue," Dr. Kelley noted. "He was just someone who loved to converse, and he could do it well on just about any topic and with great insight. They were fun conversations that were wide-ranging, irreverent, and delightful."
Dr. Fuller had been a member of the Society for Neuroscience and several other scientific organizations, and was a licensed veterinarian in California. He is survived by his wife, Linda Fuller, a brother, two nephews, and a niece. A private memorial service will be held in Texas, and another is planned at the UIC College of Dentistry in the fall.
Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs (MC 621)
College of Dentistry
801 South Paulina Street
Chicago, Illinois 60612-7211
For release: Immediately, July 22, 2002
For more information, contact:
William S. Bike, (312) 996-8495
Dr. James Fuller, pre University of Illinois at Chicago:
A.B., University of California, Berkeley, 1965
D.V.M., University of California, Davis, 1969
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1973
Assistant Professor, Physiology Section, Biological Sciences Group, University of Connecticut, 1975-1980
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association for Research in Vision and ophthalmology
California Veterinary Medical Association
Society for Neuroscience
Internal Brain Research Organization