Jerome Karle Shared the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry With Fellow CCNY Classmate, Herbert Hauptman
Jerome Karle is an American Jewish physical chemist who shared the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with a fellow CCNY classmate, Herbert Hauptman, "for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures."
Dr. Jerome Karle was born in New York City in 1918 into a family with a penchant for artistic creativity and endeavor. Despite his mother’s hopes that he would become a professional pianist, Jerome Karle exhibited an early attraction to science. A graduate of the New York City public school system, he entered the City College of New York in 1933 where he earned the top academic prize from the natural science department.
“I entered the City College of New York in 1933 and, at first, found it to be a bit of a struggle. Their academic standards were very high and they had a concentration of the best students in New York City. In addition, I spent three hours a day traveling on the subway system to and from home. City College had no tuition fee. The only financial requirement was one dollar per year for a library card. At the College, there were broad course requirements for all students that ranged through mathematics, the physical sciences, the social sciences, and literature… even two years of compulsory public speaking courses. I studied, in addition to the requirements, some additional mathematics, some physics, and much chemistry and biology.”
Dr. Karle studied biology at Harvard University where he received a master's degree, in 1938. He earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1944.
Dr. Karle and his City College classmate Herbert Hauptman began collaborating in 1947 on the development of interpreting three-dimensional molecular structure by X-ray crystallography. A major barrier to the application of this research was that most chemists did not understand the mathematics involved and did not utilize the direct-method system.
He worked on the Manhattan Project with his wife Dr. Isabella Karle, who was one of the youngest and few women scientists on the project, at the University of Chicago.
As of July 2006, Dr. Karle and his wife continue to work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.
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