Isabella Karle, a chemist who specialized in X-ray crystallography, has died, the New York Times reports. She was 95.
Karle and her husband Jerome joined the Naval Research Laboratory in the 1940s and worked alongside mathematician Herbert Hauptman, the Times says. They focused on X-ray crystallography, which was at that time unwieldy. Jerome Karle and Hauptman developed a mathematical approach to enable a more direct analysis, the Washington Post adds. Isabella Karle then showed that the method worked.
"I do the physical applications, he works with the theoretical," she told the Post in 1985. "It makes a good team. Science requires both types."
For their work, Jerome Karle and Hauptman won the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Times notes that Jerome was upset that his wife wasn't also honored and considered declining the award. "He wanted to not accept it," their daughter Louise Karle Hanson tells the Times, "and she told him, 'Go ahead, that's silly, you should accept it.'"
Isabella Karle's work allowed for the structures of numerous molecules to be uncovered, the Post adds. "Isabella Karle took the task of deciphering the theory to provide not only a solution but also to show that it could be used to solve very complex molecules, such as proteins," Bhakta Rath, a former associate director of the naval laboratory, tells the Times.