Robert Wilson (1914-2000)
Born in Wyoming on March 4, 1914, he was the youngest group leader at Los Alamos. Wilson had been a graduate student at the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, which was headed by Ernest Lawrence. After obtaining his Ph.D., Wilson briefly taught at Princeton. Recruited by Oppenheimer to be the Cyclotron Group leader, he helped secure the use of Harvard’s cyclotron for use on the Manhattan Project.
After the war, he refused any work that required him to have a security clearance. He helped organize the Association of Los Alamos Scientists and the Federation of Atomic Scientists (now known as the Federation of American Scientists). He also served as chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Board of Sponsors from 1982 - 1993.
In 1947, Wilson became the director of Cornell’s Laboratory of Nuclear Studies. Later he served as the director and builder of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (better known as Fermilab) from 1969 to 1978. Wilson retired as professor emeritus at Cornell University.
Robert Wilson died on January 16, 2000.