Isabella Helen Lugoski Karle
December 2, 1921 -
First Woman Awarded the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science
Isabella’s Early Life and Education
  • Born December 2, 1921 in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Daughter of Polish immigrants, a house painter and seamstress who insisted on formal education.
  • Attended Wayne State University for a semester and was then encouraged to transfer to the University of Michigan.
  • 1941 she graduated and continued on with graduate studies still at Michigan.
  • 1942 she graduated with her Master’s degree.
  • She also met a fellow graduate student there, Jerome Karle, whom she married in 1942.
  • 1944 they both finished their Ph.D.s.
University Involvement and Careers
  • After graduation they both worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago.
  • They returned to Michigan where Isabella became the first woman member of the chemistry faculty.
  • 1946 the both transferred to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C. and have been there ever since.
  • Since 1959 she has headed the X-ray Diffraction Section for the Structure of Matter at the Laboratory.
  • 1966 they published a paper on Symbolic Addition Procedure for discovering structures of molecules.
  • She was first to publish the structure of many organic and inorganic substances, including toxins, steroids, and others.
  • She and Jerome have three grown daughters: Louise, Jean, and Madeleine.
Accomplishments and Awards
  • Awarded Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences’ Aminoff Prize, he Franklin Institute’s Bower Award, and the American Chemical Society’s Garvin Medal.
  • Also received the American Institute of Chemists’ Chemical Pioneer Award, the Federal Woman’s Award, the Robert Dexter Conrad Award, and the National Medal of Science, along with many other awards.
  • President of the American Crystallographers Association in 1976, also Secretary of the "#000099" Distinguished Achievement in Science Award in 1987.
  • Received 4 honorary doctorate degrees.
  • Published over 300 scientific papers.
  • “Isabella Karle.”
  • “Isabella Lugoski Karle.” Journal of Chemical Education. eChemists/Bios/Karle
  • Owens, Janet. “Isabella L. Karle.” Notable Women in the Physical Sciences. ed. Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer. Greenwood Press: Connecticut, 1997. 217-222.