Shigeko Uppuluri was born in Kyoto, Japan and lived in Shanghai, China during World War II. She came to the United States for graduate school at Indiana University, where she met her husband, mathematician Ram Uppuluri. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN in 1963, after Ram was hired at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In the mid-1970s, Shigeko was asked to join the newly formed Information Division of ORNL, where she translated academic journals from Japanese to English in the X-10 library.
Shigeko has been involved in various efforts to ameliorate relations between the United States and Japan, such as serving on the team that established a cultural exchange program between Oak Ridge and Naka, Japan in 1990. Shigeko and her husband were also the driving force behind the effort to build the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell. The Bell was constructed to mark the 50th anniversary of Oak Ridge’s founding and has served as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Japan and the United States since its installation at Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park in 1996.
Shigeko continues to be active with Sister Cities Support Organization to promote cultural exchanges, and building relationships between Oak Ridge and Japan. She was an active part of the committee to construct the Peace Pavilion, and is currently working with local organizations about ways to interpret the Bell.
Shigeko Uppuluri's Timeline
1931 Apr 9th Born in Kyoto, Japan.
1954 Moved back to Kyoto for high school and college.
1958 Relocated to the United States to attend graduate school at Indiana University. Met future husband at Indiana University, mathematician Ram Uppuluri.
1961 Had first and only child, also named Ram.
1963 Moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee after her husband was hired at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
1976 Was hired by Oak Ridge National Laboratory to translate Japanese academic journals under the newly formed Information Division.
1987 Traveled with Ram to Atomic Energy Agency in Japan, where she and Ram were inspired by a bell in a temple on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
1990 Signed the cultural exchange program agreement with mayor of Naka, Japan.
1991 Exchange program begins, bringing students and local government staff from Naka, Japan to Oak Ridge.
1992 50th anniversary of Oak Ridge’s founding; Ram and Shigeko contact Japanese bell maker Sotetsu Iwasawa to construct the Bell.
1993 Jul 14th Dr. Herman Postma and Dr. Pat Postma, Dr. Ram Uppulari, and Shigeko Uppulari travel to Kyoto to watch the casting of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell.
1993 The Bell was shipped from Japan to Savannah, Georgia by Gika Honda; Transported from Savannah to Oak Ridge by Dr. Herman Postma’s research team.
1996 May Celebration to mark the installation of the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell and construction of the bell house.
2014 Old bell house is removed by the city due to rain damage. Peace Bell Rebuilding Committee is formed with Pat Postma, Alan Tatum, John Hetrick, and Shigeko Uppuluri, who collaborate with architect Ziad Demian to design new Peace Pavilion.
2018 Sep 20th Dedication of the new Peace Pavilion.