Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Julie Langham Grilly

Laboratory TechnicianLos Alamos, NM

Project Worker/StaffSpouse to Manhattan Project Worker
Los Alamos, NM

Julie Langham Grilly was a laboratory technician at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. She was married to Dr. Wright Langham, a Group Leader in the Biomedical Research Division. 

She was born in Des Moines, Iowa on February 6, 1925 and spent most of her childhood in Minnesota. In 1946, she received her Bachelors of Science in Bacteriology, a discipline which is now known as Microbiology, from the University of Minnesota. 

Shortly after completing her degree, Grilly came to Los Alamos to work as a laboratory technician in the H-4 Division, the radiobiology and biomedical research lab. She came because she had friends who had also been hired by the Lab. The Biomedical Research Lab was known as the “rat lab” because they often used rats in radiation experiments. Grilly worked under the supervision of Louis Hempelmann, the Medical Director of Los Alamos. 

Grilly herself was the subject in a tritium ingestion experiment. The experiment involved first measuring the body fat of subjects by dunking them in water. After, they were required to drink tritium water. Their urine and feces were collected and measured in the aftermath. 

In 1972, Grilly’s firts husband Wright Langham was killed in a plane crash. She retired from the Lab in 1980. 

You can read a transcript of her oral history with the Department of Energy here. She recounts her husband’s role as a chemist in the human plutonium experiments and describes her experience at the Lab in the post-war years. 

Julie Langham Grilly's Timeline
1925 Feb 2nd Born in Des Moines, Iowa.
1946 Received B.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Minnesota.
1947 Aug 5th Joined the Los Alamos Laboratory as a technician in the H-4, biomedical research lab.
1980 Retired from Los Alamos Laboratory after 33 years.
2005 Nov 29th Died in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Related Profiles

Robert Scott

Chicago, IL

Robert Scott was an American chemist. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Miami-Ohio.

A. E. Case

Y-12 Plant

A. E. Case worked for the Tennessee Eastman Corporation at the Y-12 Plant.

Carl Switzer

Tinian Island

Carl Switzer served in the First Ordnance Squadron.

M. O. Swanson

Oak Ridge, TN

M. O. Swanson worked for the United States Engineer District Office.