Roscoe L. Koontz was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1922. He graduated from Vashon High School in St. Louis. His college education at Stowes Teachers College was interrupted by a three-year hitch in the U.S. Army during World War II. While in the army, he received technical training through a special pre-engineering army training program at West Virginia State College. Upon discharge from the army in 1946, he returned to Tennessee State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.
Roscoe Koontz was among the first formally trained health physicists through his participation in the first Atomic Energy Health Physics Fellowship Training Program, sponsored at the University of Rochester in 1948. He designed a pinhole gamma ray camera and collimator and helped to design and fabricate automatic air and water sampling equipment and radiation activity measuring devices.
Health physics became a recognized profession around 1942. When Koontz entered
the field, there were few rules and guidelines and procedures for health physicists
to follow. Together with their instructors, the early students, like Koontz,
originated many of today's practices, instrumentation and techniques to protect
people from the hazards of ionizing radiation.