Fred Begay

Fred Begay

Fred Begay
(July 2, 1932 - April 30, 2013)
-Also known as Fred Young or Clever Fox.
-Native American nuclear physicist.
-3/4 Navajo & 1/4 Ute.
-First Navajo to receive a Ph.D. in physics.
-Born in Towaoc, Colorado on the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation.
-His parents started teaching him Navajo medicine as a child.
-Trained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a youth to become a farmer & never graduated from high school.
-Joined the Army in 1951.
-Served in the Korean War in the US military.
-Earned a bachelor's degree in math & science in 1961 at UNM.
-Earned a master's in physics in 1963 at UNM.
-Earned his Ph.D in physics in 1971 at UNM.
-Joined the physics staff of Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1971.
-Was profiled in the 1979 NOVA documentary, The Long Walk of Fred Young.



Returning home, he married and started running a farm. However, the Navajo Nation was recruiting war veterans to attend college. Begay was accepted at the University of New Mexico. Under this program Begay received in bachelors degree in math and science in 1961, his master’s in physics in 1963 and his Ph.D in physics in 1971.

Begay joined the physics staff of Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1971. His work is in the alternative use of laser, electron and ion beams to heat thermonuclear plasmas (alternative energy sources). He has volunteered his time to advise the Navajo Nation on science and technology matters. He also takes time to mentor middle school Navajo children. He received the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Ely Parker Award in 1992, the National Science Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancemnt of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science in 1999. Begay also heads the Seaborg Hall of Science, an organization that provides science and technology related services to the Navajo community.