Shigeko Uppuluri was born in Kyoto, Japan and lived in Shanghai, China during World War II. She came to the United States for graduate school at Indiana University, where she met her husband, mathematician Ram Uppuluri. The couple moved to Oak Ridge, TN in 1963, after Ram was hired at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In the mid-1970s, Shigeko was asked to join the newly formed Information Division of ORNL, where she translated academic journals from Japanese to English in the X-10 library.
Shigeko has been involved in various efforts to ameliorate relations between the United States and Japan, such as serving on the team that established a cultural exchange program between Oak Ridge and Naka, Japan in 1990. Shigeko and her husband were also the driving force behind the effort to build the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell. The Bell was constructed to mark the 50th anniversary of Oak Ridge’s founding and has served as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Japan and the United States since its installation at Oak Ridge’s Bissell Park in 1996.
Shigeko continues to be active with Sister Cities Support Organization to promote cultural exchanges, and building relationships between Oak Ridge and Japan. She was an active part of the committee to construct the Peace Pavilion, and is currently working with local organizations about ways to interpret the Bell.