Isabella and Jerome Karle met while both were pursuing doctorates in physical chemistry under Professor Lawrence Brockway at the University of Michigan. After earning their degrees (and marrying), they worked on the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory. After a brief return to the University of Michigan, the Karle’s moved to the United States Naval Research Laboratory, where they focused on the development of X-ray crystallography. They worked together to develop a direct method for determining crystal structures, work for which Jerome Karle, with their colleague Herbert Hauptman, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1985. Over the course of three interview sessions, the Karles discuss their childhoods, early education, undergraduate and graduate work, careers and collaborations.
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.
David van Keuren earned a PhD in history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, following a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1975) and a bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire (1972). His graduate studies were concentrated on scientific thought in Europe and America from the Middle Ages to the present. In 1986, he joined the staff of the Naval Research Laboratory as its historian, documenting the agency’s significant research and development achievements past and present, and contributing to national awareness of the broad impact of military scientific research on civil society. He died in a hit-and-run bicycle accident on 26 March 2004, in southwest Washington.
Jerome Karle and Isabella Karle, interviewed by James J. Bohning and David Van Keuren in Naval Research Laboratory (U.S.) on September 9, 1987. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0066. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/wp988m037.
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