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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Leon O. (Tom) Morgan was an American chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project and co-discovered the element Americium. He was married to Betty B. Morgan who also worked on the project.

After receiving his Master’s degree in chemistry, Morgan accepted Glenn Seaborg’s invitation to work on the Manhattan Project at Chicago’s Met Lab in 1944. Working under Seaborg and alongside Albert Ghiorso, Morgan researched the chemistry of plutonium. In 1944 he co-discovered the element Americium by irradiating plutonium.

Following the end of the war, Morgan continued researching the atomic properties of heavy elements with Seaborg at the University of California Berkeley. Shortly after earning his Ph.D in 1947, he joined the chemistry faculty at the University of Texas in Austin where he initiated a program in nuclear radiochemistry and electrochemical processes. Morgan was also a consultant at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

In the 1950s Morgan conducted research in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance. He contributed to the development of the Solomon-Bloembergen-Morgan (SBM) theory of electron-nuclear interactions which led to enhanced spin relaxation–the basis for image enhancement in current magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

After retiring from academia in 1993, Morgan served as president of the UT Austin Retired Faculty and Staff Association and as chairman of the Advisory Committee to the UT Austin Faculty Center.

Morgan died at the age of eighty-two on July 29, 2002 in Austin, Texas.

Leon O. (Tom) Morgan's Timeline
1919 Oct 25th Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1941 Graduated summa cum laude with a BS in chemistry from Oklahoma City University.
1942 Earned a Master's degree in chemistry from the University of Texas in Austin.
19441945 Worked on the Manhattan Project at the Met Lab in Chicago.
1944 Co-discovered the element Americium.
1947 Received his Ph.D from the University of California Berkeley.
1993 Retired from academia.
2002 Jul 29th Died at the age of eighty-two in Austin, Texas.

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