After the end of the Second World War, J. Robert Oppenheimer (the man considered to be the father of the atomic bomb and a professor at the University of California) needed to find a way to maintain the momentum of the short-term atom bomb research project.
Oppenheimer ran the Manhattan Project, the effort to collect the most brilliant minds in the United States to develop an atomic bomb. The physics super-team built the two nuclear weapons dropped on Japan from scratch. They operated out of a laboratory at Los Alamos.
Once the war was over, Oppenheimer wanted to keep the effort going. In order to retain personnel, the army renovated Oxnard Field, a former airport near Albuquerque, into the nation's primary nuclear research facility.