Draft:Clarice E. Phelps

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Clarice E. Phelps
A photograph of Clarice Phelps at Oak Ridge in 2018
At Oak Ridge in 2018
Clarice Evone Salone
EducationTennessee State University (BS, 2003)
Scientific career
Fieldstransuranic elements
nuclear chemistry
nuclear engineering
nuclear power
nuclear reactors
InstitutionsOak Ridge National Laboratory
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service2004–2008
UnitUSS Ronald Reagan
Navy Nuclear Power Program

Clarice Evone Phelps (née Salone),[1] is a nuclear chemist who was part of a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that prepared a precursor used in its discovery of tennessine (element 117). Formerly in the US Navy Nuclear Power Program, now at ORNL, Phelps works as a project manager for industrial use isotopes and as a researcher investigating the processing of radioactive transuranic elements such as plutonium-238 used to fuel NASA's deep space exploration missions, and californium-252 used to treat certain cancers. She is the recipient of the 2017 YWCA Knoxville Tribute to Women Technology, Research, and Innovation Award, recognizing “local women who lead their fields in technology and excel in community service”.[2][3] She was featured on the Oak Ridge Associated Universities STEM stories program, partnering with nearby schools in Tennessee.[4][2][5]

Early history[edit]


Phelps‘s interest in chemistry began during her childhood when she was given a microscope and encyclopedia-based science kit by her mother, which interest nd was nurtured by her secondary school science teachers.[6] Also an alumna of the Tennessee Aquatic Project and Development Group, a nonprofit organization for at-risk youth,[7] at Tennessee State University Phelps earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 2003.[4]

US Navy career[edit]

Phelps served in the United States Navy Nuclear Power Program,[2] which operates and maintains the nuclear reactors that power the Navy's submarines and aircraft carriers. She spent four and a half years aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.[8] While in the Navy, Phelps studied nuclear power, reactor theory, and thermodynamics.[4]

Laboratory career[edit]

Phelps in the Oak Ridge Lab in 2018

In 2009, Phelps joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she works in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate as the project manager for the nickel-63 and selenium-75 industrial isotope programs. In addition to being a project manager, she is a member of the research and development staff in Oak Ridge's Nuclear Materials Processing Group, where she works with "super heavy" transuranic isotopes that are produced mainly by nuclear transmutation. She is also a member of the Medical, Industrial and Research Isotopes Group, where she researches elements such as actinium, lanthanum, europium, and samarium.[4][9]

Phelps was involved in the discovery of the second-heaviest known element, tennessine (Element 117).[5] Phelps was part of a three-month process to purify 22 mg of berkelium-249, which was shipped to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and combined with calcium-48 in a fusion reaction to create tennessine.[4][10][11] Chemistry journalist Kit Chapman wrote that Phelps was "the first African American woman" to be part of a team that discovered a new element.[12]

Phelps continues to contribute to other important research efforts,[4] including spectroscopic analysis and spectrophotometric valence state studies of plutonium-238 and neptunium-237 and 238 for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA).[13] Phelps has also studied electrodeposition with californium-252 for the Californium Rare Isotope Breeder Upgrade project.[4]

On June 3, 2019, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) nominated Phelps for the IUPAC Periodic Table of Younger Chemists "for her outstanding commitment to research and public engagement, as well as being an important advocate for diversity".[14] Serving on ORNL's Educational Outreach Committee as its diversity chair for Knox County Schools and as vice president of the board of Youth Outreach in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (YO-STEM).[8] Phelps is a member of the American Chemical Society[4] and the American Nuclear Society.[9]

Wikipedia controversy[edit]

Phelps' contribution to the discovery of Element 117 was the subject of controversy after her article was twice deleted from Wikipedia after discussion.[10][15][16] This was described in Chemistry World in 2019 as putting "Wikipedia’s gender gap in the spotlight." in reference to the apparent Wikipedian discrimination against articles about women in science.[17]


  • Matoš, Milan; Boll, Rose A.; Phelps, Clarice E.; Torrico, Matthew N.; van Cleve, Shelley M.; Lewis, Benjamin E. (October 1, 2013). Electrodeposition of Californium Using Isobutanol and Aqueous Ammonium Acetate. APS Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting Abstracts. APS Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting Abstracts. 2013. pp. –009. Bibcode:2013APS..DNP.CJ009M.
  • Van Cleve, S.M.; Boll, R.A.; Phelps, C.E.; Ezold, J.G. (May 2012). Recovery and Purification of Berkelium-249 for SHE Research. Poster Presentation for 36th Actinide Separations Conference, Chattanooga, TN.
  • Torrico, M.N.; Boll, R.A.; Matos, M.; Phelps, C.E. (June 2013). Electrodeposition of Actinide Compounds from Aqueous Ammonium Acetate Matrix. Presentation for the 245th American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  • Warburton, Jamie L.; Phelps, Clarice E.; Benker, Dennis; Patton, Bradley D.; Wham, Robert M. (January 1, 2013). UV-Visible Spectroscopic Process Monitor for Hot Cell Mixer-settler Separations at ORNL's Radiochemical Engineering Development Center. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). OSTI 1095723.[18]
  • McFarlane, Joanna; Delmau, Laetitia Helene; DePaoli, David W.; Mattus, Catherine H.; Phelps, Clarice E.; Roach, Benjamin D. (July 1, 2015). Hydroxylamine Nitrate Decomposition under Non-radiological Conditions. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). OSTI 1195814.
  • Patton, Bradley D.; Robinson, Sharon M.; Benker, Dennis; Phelps, Clarice E. (January 1, 2016). Lessons Learned from Processing Mark-18A Targets at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). OSTI 1279410.
  • Phelps, C.; Delmau, L.; Boll, R.; Hindman, C. (August 2016). Investigations Using LN, LN2 and LN3 resins for Separation of Actinium from Lanthanuum. Presentation for the 252nd American Chemical Society National Meeting, Philadelphis, PA.


  1. ^ "New staff members". Oak Ridge National Laboratory Reporter. June 2009. Archived from the original on May 14, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2019. Clarice Evone Salone, Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities
  2. ^ a b c "YWCA Tribute to Women Finalists and Special Award Winners". Knoxville News Sentinel. July 30, 2017. Archived from the original on September 8, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Phelps Wins YWCA Tribute to Women". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on September 1, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Simoneau, Sean M. (December 17, 2018). "Clarice Phelps: Dedicated Service to Science and Community". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on February 5, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Zaringhalam, Maryam; Wade, Jess (April 12, 2019). "It matters who we champion in science". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 19, 2019. Phelps purified the berkelium-249 that was used in the discovery and identification of Tennessine (element 117), named after the location of the lab where she works.
  6. ^ Simoneau, Sean (December 17, 2018). "Clarice Phelps: Dedicated service to science and community". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on February 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "Tennessee Aquatic Project and Development Group" (PDF). Tennessee Aquatic Project. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Board of Directors". YO-STEM. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Clarice E Phelps". Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on September 1, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Jarvis, Claire (April 25, 2019). "A Deleted Wikipedia Page Speaks Volumes about Its Biggest Problem". Fast Company. Archived from the original on April 29, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  11. ^ REDC final approval. ORNL Creative Media. March 13, 2018. Event occurs at 2:55. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Chapman, Kit [@ChemistryKit] (May 1, 2019). "Btw: to those who have said that no expert has said Clarice Phelps is the first African American woman to discover an element... Hi. I literally *wrote the book* on the history of transuranium element discovery. I've met all the teams. She is the first African American woman" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ DePaoli, David W.; Benker, Dennis; Delmau, Laetitia Helene; Sherman, Steven R.; Collins, Emory D.; Wham, Robert M. (October 6, 2017). Status Summary of Chemical Processing Development in Plutonium-238 Supply Program (Report). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. p. xi. OSTI 1430620.
  14. ^ "10 more younger chemists added on the IUPAC100 Periodic Table". IUPAC. June 3, 2019. Archived from the original on June 4, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  15. ^ Sadeque, Samira (April 29, 2019). "Wikipedia Just Won't Let This Black Female Scientist's Page Stay". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on April 30, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Campos Seijo, Bibiana (May 5, 2019). "Honoring the periodic table with pub trivia and Peeps". Chemical & Engineering News. 97 (18). Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  17. ^ Krämer, Katrina (July 3, 2019). "Female scientists' pages keep disappearing from Wikipedia – what's going on?". Chemistry World. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  18. ^ 54th Annual meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM 2013): Atlanta [i.e. Palm Desert], Georgia [i.e. California], USA, 20 - 24 [i.e. 14 - 18] July 2013. INMM, Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, 54. Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (ed.). Red Hook, NY: Curran. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62993-580-5. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]

Category:African-American women engineers Category:African-American women Category:American chemists Category:21st-century American chemists Category:Tennessee State University alumni