Nathan Ballou (1919-2016) was an American chemist. He was born in 1919 in Rochester, Minnesota. In 1941 he received a bachelor’s degree from the Duluth State Teachers College (now the University of Minnesota Duluth). After that he began to pursue a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Illinois, but left in 1942 to work on the Manhattan Project at Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago.
At the Met Lab, Ballou initially worked on plutonium separation and purification. Ballou then worked in a group under George D. Coryell examining radioisotopes that were produced in cyclotron irradiations of uranium. Ballou also did work at Oak Ridge later in the war.
Ballou stayed at Oak Ridge for a few months after the war. He then returned to the University of Chicago to complete a Ph.D. Conveniently, he was able to use wartime research for his dissertation. After completing his Ph.D., Ballou did a year-long postdoctoral fellowship with Glenn Seaborg at the University of California-Berkeley.
After his post-doctoral fellowship, Ballou took a job with the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL) in San Francisco. At the NRDL, Ballou researched radiological problems the U.S. Navy would have in the nuclear age.
He worked at the NRDL until 1969. He then began working at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where he worked well into his nineties.
Ballou died in West Richland, Washington on December 16, 2016.
For reflections on Ballou’s career watch this PNNL video.