Donald Ames joined the Manhattan Project as a G.I. at the University of Chicago in 1943. Ames worked under Nobel Prize chemist Glenn Seaborg at the Metallurgical Laboratory, where he helped determine the chemical properties of plutonium and developed a rapid method for measuring the radium concentration in solutions.
After the war, Ames directed the McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories in St. Louis, Missouri. There, Ames worked on the Gemini Project and helped design the space capsule for the spacecraft.