Reynaldo (Rey) Morales was born on July 1, 1937 in San Antonio, Texas, was the oldest son of Reynaldo Ignacio Morales and Eva Hurtado Morales. His siblings are Beatrice, Robert and Albert. His father was a machinist and his mother was a devoted wife, mother and homemaker who raised four children.
Some of Rey’s ancestors include German immigrants who settled in central Texas during the mid-1850’s after Texas gained its independence from Mexico. But for a quirk of fate, Rey could have become Reynaldo Marquardt or Reynaldo Hohlmann.
His great grandfather was Meliton Morales, who was kidnapped when he was 7 years old from the Texas-Mexico border in 1845 by Apache Indians. The Apaches made yearly raids on the border to capture slaves. When he was about fifteen, Meliton managed to escape and returned to south Texas. He was unable to find his family, so in 1860, he traveled to New Orleans and enlisted in the Union Army as an Indian scout. After the Civil War he went to west Texas and became a rancher.
Rey attended Central Catholic High School where he played the trumpet in the high school band. He graduated as salutatorian and earned a four-year scholarship to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He served as the president of the German Club in undergraduate school. He graduated with a BS degree in physics, magna cum laude in 1959.Upon graduating from high school, Rey enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard at the age of seventeen. He was then sent for a ten-week basic training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls Texas. He was an aircraft radio repairman in the Air National Guard. This involved checking the radios in the jets to ensure that they were operational before the pilots flew the airplanes.
He returned to Texas in 1960 and enrolled in the Physics Department at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his MA and PhD degrees in 1962 and 1967 respectively. His theses were completed under Professor Walter E. Millett. His MA work was on the angular correlation of positron annihilation in water and heavy water. His PhD work was on “Positron Lifetimes in Lithium-Ammonia Solutions and Methods of Data Analysis.”
Prof. Millett was an outstanding physicist who did pioneering work in several areas including positron annihilation and neutron time of flight experiments. He was a perfectionist which sometimes worked to his detriment. He was often the first researcher to do work in a new area, but he sometimes would delay publishing his work because his perfectionism influenced him to do more work before he published. As a result, other researchers often beat Millett to publication.
While analyzing positron lifetime data, Rey noticed that the traditional method of determining lifetimes was good, but it was only a good approximation. He pointed this out to Millett who encouraged him to pursue an improvement and obtain a better approximation. This resulted in the publication of his new approach to lifetime analysis.
He published an article ("Correction of Moment Method for Finite Range of Integration and Its Application to Lifetime Analysis, " Nuclear Instruments and Methods, 64, p. 13-20, 1968.)
Rey used Professor James Thompson’s laboratory to obtain the lithium needed to produce the different concentrations of lithium in liquid ammonia. He developed a close working relationship with Thompson’s students. He appreciated Thompson’s infectious enthusiasm for physics and his incredible support for graduate students working for him. The other graduate students in the department were secretly jealous that Thompson’s students received such treatment. Thompson also organized occasional parties for his students to which Millett’s students were also invited.
Even after completing the required physics classes, Rey continued taking mathematics classes which became his second love after physics.
William Holt was a fellow graduate student in the early- and mid-1960’s who also worked under Prof. Millett. Holt gave Rey the nickname, “Gamma Rey” and together they named the research lab in Room 10 in the old physics department as “The Pit”. They also referred to Prof. Millett as “The Boss.”
Rey worked his way through graduate school as a graduate assistant supervising physics laboratories. Later, he enjoyed his experience teaching freshman physics classes for several semesters. He also worked part-time for Richard Helmer who built electronics for the Van de Graf accelerator that was built for Prof. Bernard B. Kinsey, a renowned nuclear physicist. During the summer of 1964, Rey taught freshman physics at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas.
Rey knew that Millett got his doctorate at Harvard, so one day Rey asked him how the education in the physics department at UT compared to that at Harvard. Without hesitating, Millett said that the education at UT was as good as Rey could have gotten at Harvard.
During his time as a graduate student, Rey had a large array of friends from Latin America and India. They sought him out for different activities. He was well known with many students from all over the world. He greatly enjoyed these international interactions which broadened his outlook on how other countries viewed U.S. policies. This also influenced his later interest in travel to foreign countries.
One year in the early 1960’s, Nobelist, P. A. M. Dirac, visited the UT Physics Deptment. Dirac's work had been concerned with the mathematical and theoretical aspects of quantum mechanics. Some of his work required the existence of a positive particle having the same mass and charge as the known (negative) electron. This, the positron, was discovered experimentally later (1932) by C. D. Anderson.
There was great excitement when it was announced that he would give a lecture at a certain hall and at a certain time. Students and physics faculty arrived to find out that Dirac had delayed his lecture because the room temperature did not suit him. Somehow, Millett arranged to have some private time with Dirac.
Some of Millett’s former students often returned to Austin to visit him. Two of them were Rodolfo Castillo-Bahena and Felix Castillo-Jimenez. They were either brothers or cousins. They both got their doctorates under the guidance of Millett. They built the collimators used in Room 10 of the old Physics building (now Painter Hall). The collimators were used to measure the angular momentum of electrons using positron annihilation. They both became physics professors at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) (in English: Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education) also simply known as Monterrey Tech.
The Institute was founded on September 6, 1943 by a group of local businessmen led by Eugenio Garza Sada, a moneyed heir of a brewing conglomerate who was interested in creating an institution that could provide highly skilled personnel — both university graduates and technicians— to the booming Monterrey corporations of the 1940s. The businessmen tried to model it after MIT. Monterrey Tech is one of the better universities in Mexico and has many campuses throughout the country.
Rey had definite memories of Prof. Darrell Hughes, an excellent physics instructor. Students were in awe of him and were intimidated by Prof. Hughes. He had an imposing presence and projected a gruff personality although many said that he was a friendly person with a good sense of humor. When students took classes taught by him, they lived in constant fear of his famous “pop” quizzes which could come at any time during the semester, even the first day of his class.
He was also famous for smoking during his lectures. One day he was smoking while lecturing and he threw his cigarette into a trash can filled with papers. It took about a minute for that to start a fire with the paper. He calmly walked over to the trash can and turned it upside down which put out the fire. And he then continued with his lecture where he had left off.
Professor Darrell Hughes did research on high-pressure physics at UT which led him to become a consultant at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Because of this connection, LANL sent recruiters to the UT Physics Department. As a result, Rey and several other physics PhD graduates were recruited and hired by LANL. This includes Rey, John Hopson, Gerry Morgan and Harold Rogers.
They were among many UT graduates who joined the staff at LANL. This included William Deal, Mac Walsh, Mike Henderson, and John Richter. Richter did his work under Prof. Eugene Ivash. Richter became one of the most creative designers of nuclear weapons in the country.
Many years later, Rey was sent to the UT to recruit potential employees.
In October 1966, Rey was hired at LANL to work in the GMX-11 group that ran PHERMEX, Pulsed High‐Energy Radiographic Machine Emitting X Rays. PHERMEX was designed and built by members of the LANL staff and was a high‐current, standing‐wave, linear accelerator which generated intense bursts of x-rays for flash radiographic studies of explosive‐driven metal systems. Knowledge of the behavior of materials is vital to the nuclear weapon designers.
At GMX-11, Rey developed a technique to measure equation-of-state parameters in the 10 Mb range.
His research resulted in several publications:
He developed an experimental technique to record and extract equation-of-state data in the l0 Mb region. He also used computer code to model PHERMEX and to design an electron prebuncher to enhance performance of the PHERMEX facility.
He also designed a prebuncher technique for PHERMEX:
In 1973, Rey was a founding member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
In June of 1969, Rey married Lidia Garza in Bexar, Texas. Rey and Lidia had two daughters, Gina and Monica. Rey later married Emily Beatrice McGay in 1983 in Vienna, VA. Emily was born in New York
In 1979, Rey got a phone call from the LANL Director Harold Agnew. Agnew told Rey that LANL had no visiting scientists from Mexico at LANL. His instructions to Rey were to go to Mexico and bring visiting Mexican scientists to LANL.
Rey managed to contact Dr. Emmanuel Mendez Palma, a brilliant astrophysicist, who was the first Mexican student to get a PhD from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech). At Cal Tech, Mendez Palma took classes with famed Physicist Richard Feynman, known as the Odd Genius. In 1965, Feynman, Julian Schwinger and Tomonaga Shin’ichirō of Japan were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Feynman offered to get Emmanuel Mendez Palma a teaching position at an U.S. university, but he decided to return to Mexico. Dr. Palma was brilliant, but also very friendly and down-to-earth and he quickly became a good friend. He introduced Rey to many of the leading scientists in Mexico. Rey contacted the director of the Mexican National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ) where he proposed a collaboration between LANL and ININ on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two institutions that was signed in 1981.
Working with ININ, Rey coordinated various collaborations in nuclear physics and nuclear engineering projects. He also provided equipment and technical books and journals to support the projects.
Later, he negotiated an MOU agreement with the Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP) in the field of energy research and development. He coordinated projects using artificial intelligence for selecting, designing, and operating enhanced oil recovery processes. He managed these agreements on a part-time basis.
As a result of his success with Mexico, he was contacted by the U.S. State Department several years later to develop agreements with Peruvian Nuclear Institute (IPEN) and the Egyptian Atomic Energy Agency.
In 1972, Rey sought a change from doing basic research to find work related to how science and technology were put to practical use. This led to him joining a group known as "weapon liaison" which was a real “eye opener” for him. The Department of Defense determines the requirements for nuclear weapons introduced to the nuclear stockpile, but LANL designs the nuclear weapons. This liaison group interacted with the military services who planned what weapons were needed. The work involved interacting with the Air Force and Navy planners.
He was Program manager for: (1) Supplemental Phase 2 Study of Cruise‑Missile (SLCM, ALCM and SRAM) Warheads, (2) Phase 2 Study of a Nuclear Capability for the Harpoon Missile, (3) Harpoon Phase 2A Study to define the tradeoff between warhead options, and (4) Navy Anti‑Submarine Warfare Phase l Study.
SLCM, ALCM and SRAM were the submarine launched cruise missile, air-launched cruise missile and the short-range attack missile respectively. The successful design for the dual use warhead for SLCM and ALCM saved the country hundreds of millions of dollars.
This involved working with nuclear weapon designers and the engineers who provided the specific engineering design aspects.
Rey also worked on a study on "The Nuclear Capability for the Harpoon Missile" to use a warhead that had a conventional explosion as well as a low-yield nuclear capability. The Navy was interested in that capability because their conventional missiles were not capable of destroying large Russian ships like aircraft carriers.
From 1982 to 1984, Rey was on assignment from LANL as Special Scientific Advisor, Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy (ATSD(AE), The Pentagon. There he was the Principal ATSD(AE) staff person on Arms Control. He drafted the “Net Assessment of the Effects of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) on the U.S.‑USSR Military Balance” and developed Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) positions for “Options Paper on Nuclear Testing and for TTBT Compliance Paper”. Managed studies: (1) “Factors Affecting Strategic Force Effectiveness”; and (2) “The Interrelationship of Nuclear Test Ban and Strategic Arms Limitations”.
He was the OSD representative for special activities: (1) cost of special features on nuclear weapons, (2) weapon classification guide (CGW‑5), (3) W84 Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) Warhead Program Officers Meeting, (4) W84 Stockpile Confidence Test, and (5) Nuclear Weapons Production and Planning Analysis NWPPA). He also led ATSD(AE) activities: (1) long‑range planning for nuclear weapons, and (2) review of nuclear weapon inputs to DoD planning, programming, and budgeting system.
During this assignment he had a conversation with a person on the so-called Joint Chief of Staff, the office in the Pentagon which determines where the U.S. nuclear weapons are targeted. The person explained that if there were to be a nuclear exchange, three U.S. nuclear weapons would be sent to the target because the probability of one weapon arriving on the target was only 98%. Rey was alarmed to see what he considered as “overkill”.
The reality of the mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine was made real to him. Yet, the policy of mutually assured destruction was the doctrine that was the official US planning strategy. This completely changed his attitude toward nuclear weapons. Before that, he believed that nuclear weapons were absolutely necessary. But this MAD doctrine seemed excessive to him and it became a career changer. To try to get a better understanding of the history of the US thinking about nuclear weapons, he started auditing nuclear arms-control classes at Georgetown University. He was relieved to learn that many serious people also had concerns about the dangers of nuclear weapons and that there were people who were trying to do something about it. But he felt powerless to influence the growing increase in the number of nuclear weapons by both the US and the Soviet Union. At this time in the early 1980’s, the US and the Soviets each had about 25,000 nukes in their weapons stockpile.
He returned to LANL, 1984-1985, where he reviewed arms control and policy issues related to Strategic Defense Initiative and co-authored a report titled "Los Alamos Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) R&D and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty." He also prepared guidelines for the study on the future of nuclear weapons.
In March 1985, he took a leave of absence from LANL and joined the US State Department Foreign Service. He was appointed Science Counselor, in the US embassy, Mexico City where he managed the largest Science Office of any US embassy in the world. His duties included reporting to the Ambassador on Scientific and Technological (S&T) Affairs. He was Deputy Mission Disaster Relief Director and received the Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding performance following Mexico City earthquakes of September 1985.
He advised the ambassador on all science and technology matters, including nuclear energy, nonconventional energies, environment, border pollution problems, space and satellite communication, health and medical research, marine research, fisheries affairs, and research vessel clearances. He was also liaison between US Government (including State Department, EPA, DOE, NRC, NSF, Congressional, state and city) officials and their Mexican counterparts. He promoted U.S. participation in Mexico's high technology and nuclear power programs.
In 1987, Rey returned to LANL as Executive Staff Advisor in LANL Director's Office. As a key member of Executive Staff Director (ESD) office he participated in recommending, planning, and implementing policies and programs. In addition, he prepared the LANL Institutional Plan, and pursued his interest in nuclear arms control, conducting arms-control studies.
As part of a LANL team, he traveled to Texas to recruit new staff members at the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Rice University. His interest to encourage more minorities to consider careers in science and engineering led him to develop the Hispanic Educational Initiative. These efforts involved visiting local high schools and selecting and placing Hispanic and female undergraduate students in rewarding summer technical positions. During this period, he joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
In 1990, he received a Department of Energy (DOE) Certificate of Appreciation for his dedication and effort in the development and coordination of LANL/ININ cooperative programs.
On an assignment from LANL, in 1995, he was appointed as a Foreign Affairs Specialist, in the Multilateral Affairs Bureau of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). Splitting his time between Washington, DC and Geneva he traveled to the United Nations Disarmament Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community,
Rey was a key member of the U.S. delegation to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations in Geneva. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test–Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments. It was finally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 10, 1996, but has not entered into force, because eight specific nations have not ratified the treaty.
At the CD CTBT negotiations, he worked on issues involving the scope of the treaty and related questions of activities not prohibited. This included verification issues as well as economic and technical matters of designing and implementing the international monitoring system and its international data center. In addition, there were political issues requiring sensitive involvement with several dozens of national delegations. He maintained key liaisons with Latin America states and developed excellent working relations with delegations from Europe as well as the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. An important activity was his participation in meetings of the Group of Scientific Experts drawing on his technical and diplomatic skills to complete assessment of the global monitoring network.
He also drafted technical and policy papers on CTBT negotiations for the ACDA Director and Deputy Director initiated analytical studies and policy recommendations on nuclear testing issues and other technical issues related to CTBT. He also formulated cost study options to fund the monitoring technologies required to verify the CTBT.
For his efforts at the CD on the CTBT, he received a “Certificate of Appreciation from the Director of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In part it reads “Dr. Morales made valuable contributions to the development of the US position for the negotiations, in particular related to the technical and economic aspects of the verification regime. He was instrumental in assessing technical issues related to scope, leading the president to propose a true zero-yield treaty, and to activities not prohibited by the treaty.”
The US delegation spent long hours at the Conference on Disarmament. Rey enjoyed the interactions with the international delegations as well as with the translators at the conference. There are six official languages of the United Nations. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The correct interpretation and translation of these six languages, in both spoken and written form, is very important to the work of the Organization, because this enables clear and concise communication on issues of global importance.
He was fascinated with the translators who specialized in spontaneous translations of speakers and those who focused on written translations. Spontaneous translators usually worked about 20 minutes because their work required detailed focus and close attention which was exhausting. They usually worked only in 20-30 minutes spans.
He developed a greater appreciation of languages. He loved to hear the French ambassador and the Spanish speaking ambassadors. Although he grew up speaking Spanish, he promised himself that he would work on improving his fluency in Spanish. The four national languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. Geneva is in the French speaking region. Rey wanted to take French lessons in Geneva, but his work schedule did not allow time to do it.
On weekends, he and his ACDA colleagues would hike in the Swiss Alps, a major natural feature of the country and is, along the Swiss Plateau and the Swiss portion of the Jura Mountains.
Rey hiking in the Swiss Alps.
In 1995, after his assignment in ACDA, Rey was appointed as Program Director for Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Research and Development (R&D) Programs in the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Programs [ATSD (NCB)]/Nuclear Treaty Programs.
He provided technical advice and coordinated Department of Defense (DoD) R&D with external organizations by ensuring that DoD requirements were addressed and satisfied. In addition, he supported the development of programs within DoD/Nuclear Treaty Programs and directed and completed required assessments and analyses.
A major part of his work was to provide oversight and direction to activities related to the Program Research and Development Announcement that awarded funds for R&D through the Defense Special Weapons Agency. The R&D awards were for basic and applied R&D in the areas of seismic, hydro-acoustic, infrasound, radionuclide, satellite, and multi-technique data exploitation, with the goal of enhancing US capability to monitor nuclear testing, and to support implementation of and compliance with nuclear testing treaties. Activities included the establishment of procedures and responsibilities for the formal review of proposals submitted by prospective contractors.
In 1997, he returned to LANL as a staff member in the LANL Planning Team. There, he integrated initiatives into a system that moved the lab towards world‑class management. This work increased the value and satisfaction of lab‑wide planning programs to customers. It also increased value and satisfaction of lab measures to customers and improved the planning process. He assisted with University of California (UC) contract management issues by providing review, comments, and support.
From 1999 to 2004, Rey was a Member of the Army Science Board advising the US Department of the Army on scientific and technical issues. He was an active participant in studies including the following:
From 2002 to 2005, Rey was a Member of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) on CODATA (the Committee on Data for Science and Technology of the International Council for Science). He was a member of the Planning Committee of the CODATA Inter-American Workshop on Access to Environmental Data. Co-chairman of the workshop held in Brazil in March 2004.
In 2004, he transitioned to the University Relations Office as a staff member. He enhanced research and education collaborations with universities and colleges, with emphasis on University of California (UC) and New Mexico campuses. He managed research collaborations with several of these universities. In addition, he supported the UC-DOE contract assessment by coordinating external science and technology reviews and facilitating interactions with the UC President's Council and associated panels.
Rey retired from LANL in 2007, but he remains very active. He has taken many classes at the local community college. In 1997, he started dance classes there. He mastered all the Latin dances including salsa, rumba, cha cha cha and merengue, as well as the American ballroom dances; foxtrot, Viennese waltz and East Coast swing – he even helped teach these classes. However, the Argentine tango remains a challenge for him. He has pursued his love of languages and studied Portuguese and French and he is proficient in them. He also took advanced classes in Spanish to improve his grammar and composition skills.
He continues his interest in nuclear issues. He considers the danger of nuclear weapons to be an existential threat to the planet. He also works with various groups which are concerned with the level of world-wide nuclear stockpiles. This includes the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Norway and the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi, India.
In 2019, he published an article "Proliferation-Resistant Nuclear Systems", it was published by KW Publishers in a book titled India in Global Nuclear Governance.
He is a member of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security (LACACIS) which addresses arms control threats by researching them and developing policy recommendations for arms control regimes, nonproliferation initiatives, and other solutions that address today's realities.
He is a member of the Nuclear Security Assurance Group (NSAG) which aims to increase the oversight and transparency of nuclear activities of the Los Alamos National Laboratory as well as the regulations on the transport of nuclear material in New Mexico.
He has a passionate interest in foreign travel and has been fortunate, as part of his professional and personal travel, to visit over 30 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa as well as India.
He volunteers at the local community college as an unofficial science and math tutor. He encourages students to consider careers in science, math and engineering.
His daughters, Gina and Monica and his three grandchildren, are the love and pride of his life. To varying degrees, he has been able to influence them with the passions of his life: lifelong learning, sports, music, foreign languages and international travel.
"I am grateful to my parents who emphasized the importance of education and who always supported my pursuit of learning. I am also deeply appreciative of my wonderful teachers and professors who not only educated me, but inspired me with their guidance and encouragement ".
"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."
Reynaldo Morales Photo Album