Michael Kennerly Wilkinson, 92, a scientist internationally known for his pioneering neutron scattering investigations of materials and for his leadership in solid state science at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, died at his home in Oak Ridge on May 22.
He was a former director of the ORNL Solid State Division and helped to build that division into an outstanding research organization.
The son of Ridley and Lucille Wilkinson, Mike was born in Palatka, Fla., on Feb. 9, 1921, and attended public schools in that city. He was always interested in sports and participated in high school baseball, basketball, and golf. He was also an excellent student and graduated as valedictorian of his senior class in 1938. He attended college at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., where he received a B.S. degree in physics in 1942. He was president of his senior class and was the first honor graduate (valedictorian) of that class.
As was true for nearly all members of the graduating class of 1942 at The Citadel, Mike became an officer in the U. S. Army immediately after graduation. Because of his science background, he was sent to special training courses in radar at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. After receiving this training, he spent most of his career in the Army as radar officer and intelligence officer for the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles. [Read more…]