The Manhattan Project

Oral Histories

David Holcomb's Interview

David Holcomb's Interview

David Holcomb is a nuclear engineer who specializes in instrumentation and controls for the molten salt reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Holcomb discusses his background as a scientist, and recalls his interaction with great minds that worked at Oak Ridge. He explains the differences between molten salt reactors and traditional light-water reactors, and advocates for increased usage of the molten salt reactors in the future. Holcomb closes by promoting nuclear energy on a worldwide scale, discussing the positive benefits it can bring to impoverished nations.

Julie Ezold's Interview

Julie Ezold's Interview

Julie Ezold is a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She directs a project in the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center that uses the High Flux Isotope Reactor to create californium-252. In this interview, Ezold describes the project and how the Reactor is used to create californium-252 and other elements. She explains the importance of sustained research into element and isotope production in the future, and also provides insight into the practical application of this work. Ezold also explains how she became interested in science as a teenager, and what it is like to be a woman scientist working on nuclear issues.

Bill Wilcox 2005

William J. Wilcox, Jr.'s Interview (2005)

Bill Wilcox was an original resident of Oak Ridge, TN, and served as the Official Historian for the City of Oak Ridge, TN. A chemistry graduate from Washington & Lee University in 1943, he was hired by the Tennessee Eastman Company on a secret project in an unknown location he and his friends nicknamed "Dogpatch." He worked with uranium, which was referred to only by its codename "Tuballoy." Wilcox worked at Y-12 for five years and then at K-25 for 20 years, retiring as Technical Director for Union Carbide Nuclear Division. Wilcox actively promoted preservation of the "Secret City" history through the Oak Ridge Heritage & Preservation Association and by founding the Partnership for K-25 Preservation. He also published several books on Oak Ridge, including a history of Y-12 and "Opening the Gates of the Secret City."

James Cole's Interview

James Cole's Interview

James S. Cole is an American engineer. He served as an airplane engineer during World War II, and began working at the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, TN in 1945, shortly after the end of the war. Cole later worked at the Y-12 plant. In this interview, he recalls his early days at Oak Ridge and how he adjusted to the new environment. He shares several stories about his time working at K-25, including finding ways to fix broken pumps and valves. He also explains the importance of the Special Engineer Detachment and members of the military to the Manhattan Project.

Gordon Fee's Interview

Gordon Fee's Interview

Gordon Fee is the retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and the former manager of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, TN. He began working at Oak Ridge at the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in 1956. In this interview, he describes his career at Oak Ridge, and shares stories about his work at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In particular, he focuses on scientific developments connected with Oak Ridge, including the growth of the Nuclear Navy, the use of radioisotopes in medicine, and more. He also discusses the challenges of trying to explain Oak Ridge’s complex history to the public.

Justin Baba's Interview

Justin Baba's Interview

Justin Baba is a researcher and biomedical engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Born in Nigeria, he moved to the United States to attend college and has worked at ORNL since 2003. In this interview, Baba explains how he became interested in science and medical research. He also describes some of the projects he has worked on at ORNL, including efforts to create functional imaging of the brain and imaging of plants as part of research into renewable energy sources.

Budhendra Bhaduri

Budhendra Bhaduri's Interview

Budhendra “Budhu” Bhaduri is a Corporate Research Fellow and group leader of the Geographic Information Science and Technology Group in the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He has worked at ORNL since 1998. In this interview, Dr. Bhaduri describes how his group researches global population dynamics, including studying population distribution and movement from rural areas to cities. He explains how Oak Ridge became involved in population research, and expresses his hopes for how geographic data can be used to improve living conditions for people around the world.

Adam Rondinone's Interview

Adam J. Rondinone's Interview

Adam Rondinone is an electrochemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Rondinone details how his childhood interest in science and Oak Ridge’s “user facilities” program led him to a job at the Laboratory. He describes several of his team’s innovations in nanotechnology, including the development of new types of energy storage and conversion systems based on nanotechnology. Rondinone also explains why he believes publicly funded science benefits society as a whole.

Shigeko Uppuluri's Interview

Shigeko Uppuluri's Interview

Shigeko Uppuluri was born in Kyoto, Japan and lived in Shanghai, China during World War II. She came to the United States for graduate school, where she met her husband, mathematician Ram Uppuluri. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN in 1963. In this interview, Uppuluri tells the story of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell, a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Japan and the United States. She describes how she and her husband launched the effort to build the Bell, the opposition they faced, and the new Peace Pavilion for the Bell in Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park.

Roger Cloutier's Interview

Roger Cloutier's Interview

Roger Cloutier was born in North Attleborough, Massachusetts in 1930. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, he pursued a career in health physics. In 1959, he moved to Oak Ridge to work for ORINS, the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (now Oak Ridge Associated Universities, or ORAU), and went on to serve as director of ORAU’s Professional Training Programs. In this interview, Cloutier recalls his career at ORAU and describes the medical innovations he was a part of, including advances in the use of radioisotopes to treat disease. He gives a history of other programs at ORAU, and explains how ORINS was started at the suggestion of Manhattan Project physicist Katharine Way.

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