Ames Laboratory earns Historic Chemical Landmark designation

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2022 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) will honor the production of pure uranium metal at Ames Laboratory by designating the lab an ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark. The landmark status is in honor of the heroic effort by a dedicated group of scientists and technicians at a college in the middle of Iowa. Their little-known story is an integral and essential part of the Manhattan Project, which was a decisive factor in ending World War II.

The Landmark designation ceremony will take place at Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, on May 17 at 11:45 a.m. CT. The ceremony will be part of the lab’s 75th anniversary celebration.

“With this landmark designation, we pay tribute to the vision, determination and sheer endurance of the scientists and other staff members who developed techniques to produce huge quantities of ultrapure uranium for the Manhattan Project,” says Lisa Balbes, Ph.D., member of the ACS Board of Directors. “This intensive mission advanced national security and contributed to the development of nuclear power.”

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to society. Past landmarks include the discovery and production of penicillin, the invention of synthetic plastics and the works of such notable scientific figures as educator George Washington Carver and environmentalist Rachel Carson. For more information, visit

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Black and white photo of scientist holding purified uranium metal
Ames Laboratory produced purified uranium metal for the Manhattan Project in the 1940s.
Credit: Ames Laboratory