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John Munro

Graduation Year: 1962
Major(s): Physics, Mathematics
Current position: Employed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory since June 1972

Please describe your life journey since you graduated from Wheaton College.

I graduated with a BS in physics and mathematics in 1962. I have been employed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory since June 1972. I have worked on a wide variety of projects from environmental modeling (transport of toxic heavy metals in the environment, global carbon cycling), plasma physics (transport phenomena in Tokomak plasmas, simulation modeling of a heavy ion beam transport diagnostic instrument, simulation modeling of neutral beam injection, plasma equilibrium and stability calculations), software engineering (verification and validation of control system software for commercial nuclear power plants), and currently working on control system software for the Spallation Neutron Source.

Along the way I have written proposals to get funding to develop RF identification technology and wireless monitoring systems for residents in nursing homes, environmental monitoring of hazardous vapors and gases from transportation accidents. I have been involved with use of supercomputers and was probably the first person in the southeast to set up a web site with the new world wide web application developed by a researcher at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee. l have written proposals to apply nanotechnology to gene therapy in cells and to physical methods for rapid identification of cells. I tried to get the laboratory in the late 1980's to acquire a Connection Machine for doing text and natural language processing.

So you see the broad range of interests represented in my efforts over the years. That kind of inquisitiveness got a lot of stimulation during my student years at Wheaton, both from faculty and from my fellow physics majors. All the faculty in the physics department left an indelible mark on me in some way.

I am at the age when I could retire if I wanted, but am still having fun with my training in physics. I plan to continue on for a while.

This past summer I learned that I had developed Type I diabetes, so a new interest now is simulating the glucose-insulin relationship in the body. This is an nteresting problem involving physics, chemistry, and biology. I found a simulation program (AIDA) on the Internet which I am investigating for a start, but am convinced I can do much better using my simulation modeling experience to develop my own program. Students at Wheaton might find the AIDA simulation software something interesting to investigate. There is extensive documentation (e.g., the equations used in the model) to go with it accessible on the Internet.

So this is my introduction. I am very glad to read that the physics course sequence and content are being revised. That is a big job, but should be rewarding. I can remember reading the Feynman Lectures in Physics when those volumes first appeared. I could not put them down I was so fascinated by the ay Feynman approached each topic. Yet he felt that he did not achieve for the Caltech undergraduates what he had set out to do. But graduate students everywhere found digesting them to be immensely profitable.

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