Neil Burgher Ward was born in Purcell, Oklahoma in 1914. He was a research scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Oklahoma. He held this position from 1964, the year the laboratory was organized, until his death in 1972, and along with Roger Jensen and Dave Hoadley, was considered to be one of the founding fathers of the storm chasers.

He was a Mechanical Engineer by trade, and also worked as a meteorologist, and an aviation weather forecaster. After observing many tornadoes in his home state he developed an interest in atmospheric vortices, which lead to him inventing first 'tornado simulator' capable of producing multiple vortices.

He was also amongst the first to link the tornado season in Oklahoma with sea temperatures.