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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

Kevin Clarno’s Interview

Kevin Clarno is a group leader in reactor physics and a distinguished R&D staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is also the former director of the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors at ORNL. In his interview, Clarno explains how he became interested in science and technology while growing up in Texas. He discusses his work with models that can forecast the longevity of nuclear reactors around the United States. Clarno advocates for the continued exploration into the field of nuclear energy, and stresses the importance of an informed public on the topic.

Thomas Cormier’s Interview

Thomas Cormier is a nuclear physicist who leads the Large Hadron Collider Heavy Ion Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Cormier describes how he became interested in science at a young age. He then discusses his work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, on experiments such as ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). Cormier underscores the importance of such testing, explaining how it offers insight into the formation of our universe. He concludes by describing future plans for the construction of even larger particle accelerators and the scientific and societal challenges involved in undertaking such endeavors.

TJ Paulus’s Interview

TJ Paulus is an electrical engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, he discusses how he first became interested in science as a child. Paulus describes research he has conducted over the course of his career in nuclear instrumentation and electronics, including on nuclear reactor reflood studies and positron imaging for medical purposes.

Eric Pierce’s Interview

Eric Pierce is a senior scientist and leader of the Earth Sciences Group in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Born in New Orleans, Pierce has a Ph.D in low-temperature geochemistry from Tulane University. In this interview, Pierce describes some of the work of his team at Oak Ridge, including how contaminants and energy production byproducts such as mercury move through the environment. He provides an overview of the important mercury research and discoveries scientists have made at ORNL, and speaks to the collaborative and dynamic nature of ORNL as a workplace.

Zane Bell’s Interview

Zane Bell is a senior scientist and physicist who works in radiation detection and scintillator development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In his interview, Bell discusses his education and career at Oak Ridge. He provides an in-depth discussion on the use of scintillators, and how they work. Bell explains some nuanced differences between the elements and isotopes used to make each scintillator, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. He also explains the practical applications for scintillators and how they are used in different scientific and medical fields today.

David Holcomb’s Interview

David Holcomb is a nuclear engineer who specializes in instrumentation and controls for the molten salt reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In this interview, Holcomb discusses his background as a scientist, and recalls his interaction with great minds that worked at Oak Ridge. He explains the differences between molten salt reactors and traditional light-water reactors, and advocates for increased usage of the molten salt reactors in the future. Holcomb closes by promoting nuclear energy on a worldwide scale, discussing the positive benefits it can bring to impoverished nations.

Julie Ezold’s Interview

Julie Ezold is a nuclear engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She directs a project in the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center that uses the High Flux Isotope Reactor to create californium-252. In this interview, Ezold describes the project and how the Reactor is used to create californium-252 and other elements. She explains the importance of sustained research into element and isotope production in the future, and also provides insight into the practical application of this work. Ezold also explains how she became interested in science as a teenager, and what it is like to be a woman scientist working on nuclear issues.

Gordon Fee’s Interview

Gordon Fee is the retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and the former manager of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, TN. He began working at Oak Ridge at the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant in 1956. In this interview, he describes his career at Oak Ridge, and shares stories about his work at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In particular, he focuses on scientific developments connected with Oak Ridge, including the growth of the Nuclear Navy, the use of radioisotopes in medicine, and more. He also discusses the challenges of trying to explain Oak Ridge’s complex history to the public.

Justin Baba’s Interview

Justin Baba is a researcher and biomedical engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Born in Nigeria, he moved to the United States to attend college and has worked at ORNL since 2003. In this interview, Baba explains how he became interested in science and medical research. He also describes some of the projects he has worked on at ORNL, including efforts to create functional imaging of the brain and imaging of plants as part of research into renewable energy sources.

Budhendra Bhaduri’s Interview

Budhendra “Budhu” Bhaduri is a Corporate Research Fellow and group leader of the Geographic Information Science and Technology Group in the Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He has worked at ORNL since 1998. In this interview, Dr. Bhaduri describes how his group researches global population dynamics, including studying population distribution and movement from rural areas to cities. He explains how Oak Ridge became involved in population research, and expresses his hopes for how geographic data can be used to improve living conditions for people around the world.