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Isabella Karle
Isabella Karle.jpg
Born Isabella Helen Lugoski
(1921-12-02) December 2, 1921 (age 94)
Detroit, Michigan
Nationality United States
Fields Crystallography
Alma mater University of Michigan
Notable awards Garvan–Olin Medal (1978)
Gregori Aminoff Prize (1988)
Bower Award (1993)
National Medal of Science (1995)
Spouse Jerome Karle (m. 1942; 3 children)

Dr. Isabella Karle (born Isabella Helen Lugoski on December 2, 1921) is an American scientist who was instrumental in developing techniques to extract plutonium chloride from a mixture containing plutonium oxide. For her scientific work, Karle has received the Garvan–Olin Medal, Gregori Aminoff Prize, Bower Award, National Medal of Science, and the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award (which is the Navy's highest form of recognition to civilian employees).

Early life[edit]

Isabella (seated center) and Jerome Karle (left foreground) at their 2009 retirement ceremony

Isabella Helen Lugoski was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA, on December 2, 1921, the daughter of immigrants from Poland, she attended the local public schools. While at school, a female chemistry teacher led her to her pursuit of the field as a career.[1] She attended the University of Michigan on full scholarship, where she majored in physical chemistry and received a Bachelor of Science at age 19, followed by Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in the field.


Karle worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II, where she developed techniques to extract plutonium chloride from a mixture containing plutonium oxide.[2]

She joined the United States Naval Research Laboratory after the end of the war. Karle advanced the practical uses of the work her husband, Nobel Prize winner Jerome Karle, did on using X-ray scattering techniques to directly determine the structure of crystals, a technique that is used to study the biological, chemical, metallurgical and physical characteristics, allowing processes to be designed to duplicate the molecules being studied. This technique has played a major role in the development of new pharmaceutical products and other synthesized materials.[2] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993.[3]

On July 31, 2009, she and her husband retired from the Naval Research Laboratory, after a combined 127 years of service to the United States Government, with Karle joining the NRL in 1946, two years after her husband.[2] Retirement ceremonies for the Karles were attended by United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who presented the couple with the Department of the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Navy's highest form of recognition to civilian employees.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Karle was married to Jerome Karle with whom she had three daughters, all of whom work in scientific fields:[4]

  • Louise Karle (born 1946) is a theoretical chemist
  • Jean Karle (1950) is an organic chemist
  • Madeleine Karle (1955) is a museum specialist with expertise in the field of geology.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff. " profile", Journal of Chemical Education. Accessed September 22, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d McKinney, Donna. "Jerome and Isabella Karle Retire from NRL Following Six Decades of Scientific Exploration", United States Naval Research Laboratory press release dated July 21, 2009. Accessed September 22, 2009.
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter K" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Jerome Karle: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1985, Nobel Prize. Accessed September 22, 2009.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_Karle — Please support Wikipedia.
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92 news items

ScienceBlogs (blog)

ScienceBlogs (blog)
Tue, 01 Dec 2015 13:33:23 -0800

A few months ago, I decided it would be interesting to celebrate various scientific contributions by making images of chemical / molecular structures in the Molecule World iPad app and posting them on Twitter (@MoleculeWorld). Whenever I can, I like to ...

The Week Magazine

The Week Magazine
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 10:56:15 -0800

What Isabella Karle's fellow shoppers don't know as they wait beside her in the checkout line is that she revolutionized the method of discovering the medicines that many of them regularly purchase over at the pharmacy counter. In the narrowly focused ...

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (press release)

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (press release)
Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:37:30 -0700

Dr. Karle shared both his work and his life with his wife Dr. Isabella Karle, who worked alongside him at the Naval Research Laboratory. At NRL, Dr. Karle held the Chair of Science as Chief Scientist of the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. Dr ...

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 14 Jun 2013 20:10:29 -0700

Isabella Karle, who was also a chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory, joined her husband in the work, employing X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of previously intractable molecules. “After I found some structures that no one could ...

ScienceBlogs (blog)

ScienceBlogs (blog)
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 23:01:32 -0800

I've always liked Siamese cats. Students do, too. “Why Siamese cats wear masks” is always a favorite story in genetics class. So, when I opened my January copy of The Science Teacher, I was thrilled to see an article on Siamese cat colors and proteins ...


Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:58:31 -0700

Two weeks ago, Nobel-prize winning cell biologist Tim Hunt created a storm of controversy when he made a comment about how he can't work with women because he always falls in love with them, or they with him. But why does he think love in the lab is ...

Oak Ridger

Oak Ridger
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 08:55:41 -0700

Rosemary Lane and Isabella Karle spoke of the role of women in the Manhattan Project and reflected on the meaning their experiences have had on their lives. As Denise Kiernan in her New York Times bestselling book, “The Girls of Atomic City,” points ...


Mon, 17 Jun 2013 14:40:12 -0700

Jerome (left) and Isabella Karle cut their respective cakes as they retire from the Naval Research Laboratory after a combined 127 years of government service. WIKIMEDIA, US NAVY, JOHN F. WILLIAMSChemist Jerome Karle, who shared the 1985 Nobel ...

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