The Iowa Chemist Who Saved the Manhattan Project

Wilhelm’s Way

by Teresa Wilhelm Waldof

The BookThe untold story of the humble man whose scientific innovation helped end World War II

In February 1942, leaders of the Manhattan Project had a problem: to prove a controlled nuclear chain reaction was possible, they needed pure uranium—tons of it and in less than ten months. With only a few grams in existence, there was little hope anyone could achieve such a feat. Harley Wilhelm, a chemistry professor at Iowa State College, rose to the challenge.
A sharecropper’s son and former college basketball coach, Wilhelm was an unlikely character to impact the course of world history. Nevertheless, he and his small, dedicated team of scientists and technicians surpassed anyone’s wildest expectations.
Wilhelm’s Way reveals the life and times of this unsung hero who helped America win the race to build the atomic bomb and end World War II.

The Author: Teresa Wilhelm Waldof is the world’s leading expert on the Ames Project section of the Manhattan Project. An independent scholar, her in-depth research provides for trade publication the first-ever account of the life of chemist Harley Wilhelm and the critical Manhattan Project work he led on the Iowa State campus.

Teresa speaks on her grandfather’s life and scientific contributions, the Ames Project, and the founding of Ames Laboratory. Recent speaking engagements include the 75th Anniversary of Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University Lecture Series, and the American Chemical Society Annual Convention – Midwest Region.

Outside of research and writing, Teresa is a business professional with thirty years’ experience in management, specializing in process improvements and turn-arounds. Her methods VACIP© and DRIP© can be applied to improving results in business as well as achieving goals in life.

Teresa holds a BA in speech communications and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Rochester, Minnesota, with her family.

My Thoughts: This is a story important to world history, to WWII history, to Iowa history, to the history of Iowa State University. But it’s also a masterfully written family story of the humble man who indeed influenced the outcome of WWII.

Please check out Teresa Wilhelm Waldof’s website.


    • The beginning has plenty of chemistry in it, but it was worth working through to get to the compelling family story, along with the amazing historical ramifications.

  1. I believe this is what the internet was partly developed for; the exchange of ideas and the sharing of what might otherwise be lost in time.

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