The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

Gayleen Meservey's Interview

Gayleen Meservey's Interview

Gayleen Meservey grew up in Idaho Falls, and worked at Idaho National Laboratory. She describes the bus rides to and from the lab, which often involved card game and occasionally getting stuck in the snow. She discusses the positive relationship between the laboratory and the town, and how the influx of scientists transformed the town and the state. She also explains the incredible change in computers from the 1960s through the early 2000s, and what it was like to work on early computers.

Bill Ginkel's Interview

Bill Ginkel's Interview

Bill Ginkel served as the Manager of Office Operations for the Idaho Falls laboratory of the Atomic Energy Commission. In this interview, he describes his experience working at the facility beginning in 1950. He recalls the pioneering work conducted at the laboratory and the occasional methodological divide between the scientists and engineers. He also explains the transformative effects the influx of nuclear scientist had upon the local community and the state, and why the area was referred to as “The Site.”

Richard Meservey Final Cut

Richard Meservey's Interview

Richard “Dick” Meservey is a nuclear physicist who worked at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In this interview, he describes the rewarding projects he worked on at INL including the Special Power Excursion Reactor Test and the Advanced Test Reactor. He lauds the unusual freedom that scientists enjoyed working in Idaho Falls, and explains why he came to love living in Idaho Falls.

Kathy McCarthy's Interview

Kathy McCarthy's Interview

Kathy McCarthy served as the Director of Nuclear Science and Engineering responsible for research in the area of advanced nuclear energy at Idaho National Laboratory. In this interview, she discusses the role of nuclear power in establishing secure sources of energy as well as the challenges of promoting nuclear power as safe and environmentally beneficial. She also explains the evolving technologies of nuclear reactors, and how the U.S. compares to other countries in terms of nuclear power development.

Thomas Cormier's Interview

Thomas Cormier's Interview

Thomas Cormier is a nuclear physicist who leads the Large Hadron Collider Heavy Ion Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Cormier describes how he became interested in science at a young age. He then discusses his work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on experiments such as ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). Cormier underscores the importance of such testing, explaining how it offers insight into the formation of our universe. He concludes by describing future plans for the construction of even larger particle accelerators and the scientific and societal challenges involved in undertaking such endeavors.

TJ Paulus's Interview

TJ Paulus's Interview

TJ Paulus is an electrical engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, he discusses how he first became interested in science as a child. Paulus describes research he has conducted over the course of his career in nuclear instrumentation and electronics, including on nuclear reactor reflood studies and positron imaging for medical purposes.

Eric Pierce Final Cut

Eric Pierce's Interview

Eric Pierce is a senior scientist and leader of the Earth Sciences Group in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Born in New Orleans, Pierce has a Ph.D in low-temperature geochemistry from Tulane University. In this interview, Pierce describes some of the work of his team at Oak Ridge, including how contaminants and energy production byproducts such as mercury move through the environment. He provides an overview of the important mercury research and discoveries scientists have made at ORNL, and speaks to the collaborative and dynamic nature of ORNL as a workplace.

CJ Mitchell's Interview

CJ Mitchell's Interview

CJ Mitchell grew up in northeastern Texas. In this interview, he describes moving to Hanford after graduating from high school in 1947. Only sixteen years old, Mitchell took a job working on the trailer park in North Richland, and worked on other construction projects. At first, he lived in a tent with his relatives in East Pasco. He eventually studied at Columbia Basin College and got a job at one of General Electric’s Hanford laboratories as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) specialist. He describes the racism he encountered in the Tri-Cities area and how segregation and the Great Migration impacted him and his family. Mitchell, an avid sports enthusiast and coach, was also famous in the Northwest for his work as a sports official.

Ronald Mickens's Interview

Ronald E. Mickens' Interview

Ronald E. Mickens is a physicist who currently teaches at Clark Atlanta University. He is a prominent voice in the African-American scientific community, and has written several works documenting the feats of previous black physicists. He was friendly with several African-American scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, including J. Ernest Wilkins, and describes their careers and the racism they faced. Mickens also discusses his own career, the importance of curiosity to scientific research, and the challenges African-American scientists have had to overcome to pursue their research.

Zane Bell's Interview

Zane Bell's Interview

Zane Bell is a senior scientist and physicist who works in radiation detection and scintillator development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In his interview, Bell discusses his education and career at Oak Ridge. He provides an in-depth discussion on the use of scintillators, and how they work. Bell explains some nuanced differences between the elements and isotopes used to make each scintillator, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. He also explains the practical applications for scintillators and how they are used in different scientific and medical fields today.

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