North Central College - Naperville, IL

Carl Gamertsfelder

Class Year: 
1935

Physics major

How many of the scientists who have shaped our world can you identify? Here’s a few — all Nobel laureates: Harold Varmus. John Mather. Peter Agre. And their schools? Small liberal arts colleges.

Carl Gamertsfelder may not be a household name, like other nuclear age pioneers such as Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, but he was present along with Fermi in Chicago when the world’s first nuclear reactor went critical. And he was there at the launch of three of the world’s first four nuclear reactors.

This graduate of North Central College, a liberal arts school in Naperville, Illinois, whose degree was in physics and mathematics, went on to serve as manager of nuclear safety and technologies in General Electric’s Missile and Space Division and became one of the world’s first “health physicists” studying the effects of radiation on humans.