Louise Z. Reiss (1920-2011)

Louise Z. Reiss, ca. 1945
Louise Z. Reiss, ca. 1945 (Photo courtesy Louise Z. Reiss, M.D.)

Louise Zibold was born in New York in 1920. Originally an art major, she switched to the study of science during the war and entered the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she received her medical degree in 1945. During an internship and residency at the Philadelphia General Hospital, she married another doctor, Eric Reiss, and together they moved to San Antonio, Texas. Louise and Eric Reiss relocated to St. Louis in 1954 when Eric Reiss accepted a position at the Washington University Medical School. Louise Reiss worked as an internist and with the local Health Department, and both became active in the Greater St. Louis Citizen’s Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI). The radioactive fallout from nuclear testing was a major concern at the time as evidenced in the increasing levels of Strontium-90 in milk. A study was proposed in which Strontium-90, which is absorbed in bones and teeth, would be monitored by testing of deciduous (non-permanent or baby) teeth. Under the sponsorship of the Greater St. Louis Citizen’s Committee for Nuclear Information and the dental schools of Washington and St. Louis Universities, and with the cooperation of local dentists, schools, churches, YMCA’s and YWCA’s, and the local media, over 50,000 baby teeth were collected. At the urging of Barry Commoner, Louise Reiss became involved in the Baby Tooth Survey at its outset and served as vice president and director of the project from 1959-1961. Louise Reiss published the results from the Baby Tooth Survey in the November 24, 1961 issue of Science.

Louise Z. Reiss, 2003
Louise Z. Reiss, 2003 (Photo courtesy Louise Z. Reiss, M.D.)

For the last several years Louise Reiss has been studying the creative process in humans. Her book, High-Yield Skepticism: The Creative Process and Problem Solving, was published in 2005.