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Nancy F. Wood

Junior PhysicistChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranScientistWoman Scientist
Nancy F. Wood

Nancy Farley Wood (1903-2003) was an American physicist, teacher, businesswoman, and activist.

Born on a farm in Missouri on July 12, 1903, Wood graduated from Warrensburg Teachers College and taught mathematics and physics. In 1927, she earned an M.A. in Education from the University of Chicago. Before and during World War II, Wood taught calculus to Navy sailors in Chicago.

Recruited to join the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago Met Lab, Wood worked with John A. Simpson in the instrumentation division on designing and building radiation detectors and particle detectors.

Wood was so successful at building detectors that after the war, she started her own business, N. Wood Counter Laboratory (called “N. Wood” to avoid revealing that a woman ran the business). For decades, N. Wood provided radiation detectors to scientists around the world. The detectors were used in the International Geophysical Year, an important demonstration of international scientific collaboration during the Cold War, as well as in numerous NASA satellite programs. Wood ran the business for more than 40 years.

Wood was a prominent feminist and served as general secretary of the National Organization for Women. She died on March 19, 2003.

Nancy F. Wood's Timeline
1903 Jul 12th Born in Green Ridge, Missouri.
1927 Received a master's degree in education from the University of Chicago.
19421946 Worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory. She was responsible for designing and building radiation detectors.
1949 Established the N. Wood Counter Laboratory, which supplied scientists around the world with radiation detectors.
1957 Manufactured neutron detectors used to collect data during the International Geophysical Year.
1977 Named Woman of the Year by the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women.
2003 Mar 19th Died in Baroda, Michigan.

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