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.