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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Floy Agnes “Aggie” (Naranjo Stroud) Lee was a biologist who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos as a technician.

Lee’s mother was German-American and her father was a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo. She grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from Albuquerque High School. In 1945, Lee graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in biology. During her college years, she also learned to fly planes, with the goal of joining the Women’s Air Force.

Her research in the biology lab at UNM led her to be recruited to work in the hematology lab at Los Alamos. She collected and examined blood samples from Manhattan Project scientists, including Louis Slotin and Alvin Graves after the criticality accident that exposed Slotin to a fatal dose of radiation. She played tennis with Enrico Fermi and interacted with other Manhattan Project scientists including Louis Hempelmann.

After the war ended, Fermi encouraged Lee to to continue her studies at the University of Chicago. She moved to Chicago, began her doctorate in biology, and worked at Argonne National Laboratory. After her husband died from cancer, Lee balanced her studies, working at the lab, and raising her young daughter. After 14 years, she received her PhD. She later worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California and returned to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory before she retired. Over the course of her long career, she conducted research on the impact of radiation on chromosomes.

Lee died in 2018 at the age of 95.

Badge photo from Los Alamos.

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