Nathan Sugarman (1917-1990) was a nuclear chemist who worked at both Los Alamos and the Chicago Met Lab during the Manhattan Project.
Born in Chicago, Sugarman received his Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1937 and 1941, respectively.
In 1942, Sugarman became a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Met Lab where he worked under Enrico Fermi. He was appointed as a section chief in 1943. His research focused on the chemical aspects of nuclear fission in order to create cleaner fission methods with less lethal radioactive byproducts.
Under assignment from Fermi, he was present at the Trinity Test in Alamogordo, New Mexico—the world’s first nuclear explosion—and helped determine the efficiency of the explosion.
Following the war, Sugarman returned to the University of Chicago in 1946 as an associate professor. He became a full-time professor of Chemistry in 1952 and taught until he retired in 1987. A charter member of the University’s Enrico Fermi Institute, he received the university’s Quantrell Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching in 1966. Additionally, he was the co-editor of Radiochemical Studies: The Fission Projects, a volume of 336 Manhattan Project research papers.
Sugarman died in 1990 at the age of 73 in Chicago. In his honor, the University of Chicago’s Enrico Fermi Institute created the Nathan Sugarman Award for Excellence, which annually recognizes student achievements in scientific research.