Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

How OSU Grew Nuclear Science Oral Histories, 2009-2010

Historical Note:

Nuclear research and education began at OSU soon after World War II. In the 1950s, the first classes in nuclear physics and radiochemistry were taught, and in 1955 a cyclotron was constructed. A graduate program in nuclear engineering was established in 1959. In the early 1960s, a committee recommended that a research lab be established to house nuclear and radiation facilities. Funding was secured in the fall of 1962, and construction began in early 1964. The labs were occupied in August 1964 and the research reactor was completed in January 1967.

Oregon State University was among the first in the nation to offer an undergraduate curriculum in nuclear engineering. In 1968 the first Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering was awarded. The Nuclear Engineering Department was established as a separate entity in 1972. In the early 1980s, the Radiation Health Physics graduate program was transferred from the General Science Department to the Department of Nuclear Engineering. In 1991, an undergraduate program in Radiation Health Physics was established.

Edrie Dale Trout was Professor of Radiological Physics in the Oregon State University General Science Department from 1962 until his retirement in 1976. In addition to being instrumental in the formation of the OSU Radiation Center, Trout established the X-Ray Science and Engineering Laboratory in 1965 and served as its Director until his retirement in 1976.

Shirley Campbell joined the staff of the Radiation Center in 1984 to be in charge of the Radiation Center store, a position she held until 1988. After a brief appointment in the College of Agricultural Sciences Business Office, she returned to the Radiation Center as business manager in 1989. Her responsibilities increased and by the time of the interview in 2009, she was Fiscal Manager for the Radiation Center, Nuclear Engineering Department, and Oregon Space Grant as part of the Business and Engineering Business Service Center.

Wesley Frey earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. He completed his MS (2005) and Ph.D. (2009) in Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University and became an instructor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics Department at that time.

Gordon Adolph Little graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1952, served in the US Army from 1955 to 1957, and was a Public Health Service Fellow in OSU's Radiation Health Safety Program in 1964-1965. Little worked for 20 years at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and for some of that time was in charge of radiation monitoring at the plutonium processing facilities and test reactors. From 1976 to 1984, he was in charge of safety for the TRIGA reactor at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1984, Little became the Radiation Health Safety Officer at Oregon State University. Little died in March 2010.

Camille Lodwick earned a BS in Radiation Health Physics from Oregon State University in 1997 and returned to Oregon State in 2007 as an Assistant Professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics Department. Lodwick earned an MS (1999) and Ph.D. (2003) at the University of Cincinnati. She is Director of the Medical Physics Program.

Grant McCallum earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University in 1976 and has worked as an engineer on several nuclear power plant projects. At the time of the interview he lived and worked in Richland, Washington.

Wanda Munn earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering at Oregon State in 1977 and spent the next 18 years focusing on systems design, construction, and operation of the Fast Flux Test Facility for Westinghouse, Hanford. She earned an MBA from the University of Washington in 1982. She was inducted into the OSU College of Engineering Hall of Fame in 1999 and has received numerous other awards. Munn's career at Oregon State began in the 1960s as a secretary in the Radiation Center. As a single parent in the mid-1970s, she returned to school to earn a degree as a nuclear engineer.

Todd S. Palmer earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University in 1987 and completed his MS in Nuclear Engineering (1989) and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Scientific Computing (1993) at the University of Michigan. He worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and joined the Oregon State faculty in 1995; at the time of the interview in 2009, Palmer was an Associate Professor in the Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Help Physics Graduate Program.

Donald James Reed was a Professor of Biochemistry at Oregon State University from 1962 until his retirement in 1997. Reed completed his MS (1955) and Ph.D. (1957) from Oregon State College on the application of radioisotopes and radiochemicals to the study of biological pathways. After brief appointments at the US Department of Agriculture Western Regional Laboratory in Albany, California, and at Montana State College, he returned to Oregon State as a faculty member. Reed was director of OSU's Environmental Health Sciences Center from the early 1980s to 1997.

Roman Schmitt studied at Illinois College and completed his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry at the University of Chicago. Schmitt was a founding staff member of General Atomics in 1956. In 1966, Schmitt joined the faculty at Oregon State University with a split appointment in the Chemistry Department and Radiation Center. He conducted research on lunar samples and meteorites and received an award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1972 for his pioneering work on the determination of rare earth elements.

Stephen H. Shepherd enrolled at Oregon State in January 1975 as a graduate student in nuclear engineering working with Bernard I. Spinrad. Shepherd completed his MS in Nuclear Engineering in 1976 and worked in the nuclear power industry until his retirement from Southern California Edison.

Thomas L. Van Witbeck attended Oregon State University from 1966 to 1970 after serving 7 years in the U.S. Navy. Van Witbeck earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering in 1970 and worked in the nuclear industry and as a consultant after graduation. He was a lead investigator of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

Ray D. Walton earned his BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from Oregon State in 1943 and 1948. Walton worked for General Electric, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Argonne National Laboratory during his extensive career.

C.H. Wang was the first director of the Radiation Center.

David L. Willis was chair of the OSU department of General Science from 1969-1985.


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