Paul R. O'Connor was a junior chemist at the University of Chicago Met Lab during the Manhattan Project. He worked on isolating plutonium isotopes. In 1945, he signed the Szilard petition.
After World War II, O'Connor earned his Ph.D. and was Professor of Chemistry for many years at the University of Minnesota. He helped revamp chemistry curricula in the 1960s as part of a national effort to promote national math and science education.