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Mar 07

Lecture: Wilhelm’s Way

Mon / March 7, 2022
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm / Memorial Union Sun Room, ISU campus

Teresa Wilhelm Waldof will present “Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the ISU Chemist Who Saved the Manhattan Project.” Waldof is the granddaughter of Dr. Harley Wilhelm, co-founder of the Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus.

In February 1942, while the first American troops arrived in Europe and others found themselves engaged in desperate combat against Japanese invasion forces during the Battle of Bataan, Dr. Harley Wilhelm, a chemist at Iowa State, was recruited by his boss, Dr. Frank Spedding, to solve the problem of how to produce uranium for the Manhattan Project. The challenges were immense, the obstacles great, yet Wilhelm and his small, ragtag team of scientists and technicians persevered, producing tons of pure uranium placed at the core of the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction. Following that history-making event in December 1942, the Iowa State team produced millions more pounds of uranium for the atomic bombs that, ultimately, brought about the end to World War II.

Waldof’s first book, Wilhelm’s Way: The Inspiring Story of the Iowa Chemist Who Saved the Manhattan Project, recounts the extraordinary life of Dr. Wilhelm, a sharecropper’s son who rose to prominence in the fields of chemistry and metallurgy and was recognized for his inventive mind, but loved for his humble nature. Waldof will sign books after the event.

This event will be live streamed and recorded. The live stream link is here.

Learn more about Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Ames Laboratory