Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Karl Ziegler Morgan was an American health physicist who served as Director of Health Physics at Oak Ridge from 1944 to 1972.

Morgan attended Lenoir-Rhyne College and the University of North Carolina, where he received a B.S. in Physics in 1929 and an M.S. in Mathematics in 1930. He received his Ph.D. in Cosmic Radiation from Duke University in 1934. Morgan initially returned to Lenoir-Rhyne College, where he worked as a physics professor and studied cosmic rays from 1934 until 1943.

In 1943, Morgan joined the health physics division at the University of Chicago as part of the Manhattan Project. There they studied the effects of radiation on the body, and developed new radiation measurement techniques.  The group moved to Oak Ridge the following year, where they helped set up a program in radiation safety at the new facility.

At Oak Ridge, Morgan became the Director of Health Physics. At Oak Ridge he was responsible for worker safety, and set up programs and tools to help limit radiation exposure. Morgan also oversaw some human experiments to determine the effects of plutonium radiation on the body. In 1955 he became the Health Physics Society’s first president. Later in life, Morgan became a critic of nuclear power, testifying in a number of cases relating to diseases caused by radiation from nuclear tests.

Morgan died in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on June 8, 1999.

For more information on Dr. Karl Morgan, see his oral history with the U.S. Department of Energy, from which this profile is adapted.

Karl Z. Morgan's Timeline
1907 Sep 7th Born in Enochsville, North Carolina.
1929 Received B.S. in Physics from the University of North Carolina.
1930 Received M.S. in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina.
1934 Received Ph.D. in Cosmic Radiation from Duke University.
19341943 Worked at Lenoir-Rhyne College as a physics professor.
1943 Went to the University of Chicago's health physics group.
19431972 Director of Health Physics at Oak Ridge.
1999 Jun 8th Died in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Related Profiles

Lilburn Cox Jr.

Los Alamos, NM

Ralph A. Furman

Tinian Island

Ralph A. Furman served in the 603rd Air Engineering Squadron. 

Julius Ashkin

Los Alamos, NM

Julius Ashkin was an American physicist. Ashkin was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 23, 1920. He received a Ph.

LeRoy Shackelton

Tinian Island

LeRoy Shackelton served in the First Ordnance Squadron.