Emmy Noether


Thanks to Darryl Yong, who shared this article about Emmy Noether by Lee Phillips.

Please also see this updated GGSTEM article by Else Hoyrup.

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Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

CeceliaPhoto from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Acc. 90-105 – Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Image # SIA2009-1326

Thanks to @STEMWomen, who noted on twitter that “Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin discovered that the sun is mainly composed of hydrogen,”  citing this Facebook page from Astronomy/Astrophysics History and News.

The American Museum of Natural History has an online excerpt about Cecilia Payne from COSMIC HORIZONS: ASTRONOMY AT THE CUTTING EDGE, edited by Steven Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson, a publication of the New Press. © 2000 American Museum of Natural History.

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Ingeborg Rapoport


Thank you to Amanda Ruiz, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at University of San Diego, who suggested this Wall Street Journal Article about Ingeborg Rapoport for GGSTEM.

Ingeborg Rapoport to Become Oldest Recipient of Doctorate After Nazi Injustice is Righted:  102-year-old retired neonatologist submitted her doctoral thesis in 1938.


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Isabella Karle

1 Isabella KarleIsabella Karle in 2005 in Washington, DC

Isabella Karle (1921- ) is a world-famous structural chemist, who has received almost all awards and distinctions except for the Nobel Prize. In fact, there are many who thought she should have shared the one in 1985, which her husband, Jerome Karle received jointly with Herbert A. Hauptman in Chemistry.

Isabella Karle is one of the 65 women scientists, who are presented in the book by Magdolna Hargittai, Women Scientists: Reflections, Challenges, and Breaking Boundaries, published recently by Oxford University Press. Most of these women qualify to be included among the STEM Grandmas. We have singled out Isabella for her professional and human qualities.

2 Book coverThe cover of the book shows Isabella Karle
at the University of Michigan in 1948,
working with an electron diffraction apparatus.

Isabella and her husband were among the pioneers of the research field, in which gas-phase electron diffraction was used to determine the structure of molecules. They made major improvements in this technique thus making it much more accurate in determining molecular structures than it had been before. Isabella and Jerome Karle worked in the same scientific field all their lives, although, as Isabella put it, “they worked together separately.”

Both received their PhD degrees at the University of Michigan under the mentorship of Professor Lawrence O. Brockway. In 1946 they moved to the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC. This move made it possible for them to work together, because NRL did not have the same strict anti-nepotism rules that most US universities used to have during the middle of the 20st century.

Originally, they were both interested in experiments but gradually, Jerome moved toward theoretical work and Isabella stayed with experiments. This increased their potentials because their work complemented and thus strengthened each other.

In the early 1950s, Jerome and the mathematician Herbert Hauptman together developed a particular method that vastly expanded the possibilities of a very important physical technique for structure determination. This technique is X-ray crystallography and the new approach was called the direct methods. Jerome Karle and Hauptman’s work was theoretical and they needed experimental evidence showing that it really worked. Unfortunately, for many long years, crystallographers were reluctant to accept, let alone apply, Karle and Hauptman’s suggestions. This caused a great deal of frustration.

Isabella believed in the feasibility of the new method and at one point, she decided that she will take upon herself to prove its validity. She built up an X-ray diffraction laboratory, worked out the connection between the mathematical description of the new method and her experimental data, and brilliantly demonstrated the validity of the new technique. Thus, she had a decisive role in making the direct methods into a successful tool in X-ray crystallography. We might speculate that had she not done this, the method might have gone into oblivion. In any case, the Nobel Prize went to Jerome Karle and Herbert Hauptman – although there was still an empty slot, considering that according to the rules of the Nobel Prize, in every category at most three persons may share the prize. It is also true that by the time of the 1985 Nobel award, there were a number of excellent contributors to the applications and dissemination of the direct methods. Thus a number of scientists might have been considered for filling the third slot of the Nobel Prize. The Nobel decision makers chose the safe solution and awarded the prize to the two whose merits were unquestionable and without competition.

3 Isabella and Jerome KarleJerome and Isabella Karle at the Naval Research Laboratory
with models of molecules, around 1970

Nonetheless, Jerome was very sad about Isabella’s omission. As to her, she feels that although it would have been wonderful to receive the prize together with Jerome – many other prestigious awards have consoled her. One of Isabella’s most prestigious awards was the Aminoff Prize (1988) from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, established specifically for pioneers in crystallography. She has received numerous other awards and distinctions; much too many to list them all. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1978), she was the first woman receiving the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science from the Franklin Institute in 1993, “for her pioneering contributions in determining the three-dimensional structure of molecules,” and she received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton in 1995.

4 Nat Medal of ScienceVice President Al Gore, Isabella Karle, and President Bill Clinton
in 1995 in the White House on the occasion of Isabella’s receiving
the National Medal of Science

After proving how useful the new scheme for structure determination was, Isabella’s attention turned increasingly toward the structure determination of large, biologically important molecules. She uncovered details about the structures of peptides, steroids, and alkaloids, and her results have advanced chemical and biochemical research all over the world.

Isabella and Jerome have three daughters and four grandchildren, so she eminently qualifies for a STEM grandma. Of course, bringing up three children and doing top science required a great deal of organization and time. She considers herself lucky in that crystallography is a scientific field in which you can do both your science and bringing up children.

Isabella and Jerome retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 2009 – after more than 60 years of service. Jerome passed away on June 6, 2013. Isabella is a fantastic example of a STEM grandma just as Isabella and Jerome’s duo was a wonderful example of a scientific couple.

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Frances Hugle


Thanks to the family of Frances Hugle for the following information.

Frances Hugle was born Frances Betty Sarnat 13 August, 1927 in New York to Nathan and Lilyan (Steinfeld) Sarnatzky, both immigrants. She lived in Chicago until starting her first business with her husband, William Bell Hugle, in 1948.

Fran attended Hyde Park High School (where she and Bill met), being the first girl to win the Wilson Jr. College Math Tournament at age 16 in 1944.

Fran Math Article 1944She graduated that year and entered the University of Chicago, where she earned her Ph. B. in two years. She then entered the UC Medical School but left medical school in 1947. In 1948, they founded their first company together, Hyco-Ames, and the couple set it up at her parents’ apartment. Hyco-Ames focused on developing gem-quality star sapphires and rubies. Though Hyco-Ames never produced the gems (they were focused on securing funding and developing the equipment they needed), Fran designed and built a completely automatic Verneuil furnace, six cubic feet large, that could reach the necessary temperature of 3600 degrees.

Later in 1948, they secured financial support from New York attorney John G. Broady and Hyco-Ames became Stuart Laboratories. The company first operated out of Broady’s high-rise office building in lower Manhattan but later moved to North Bergen, New Jersey into a proper factory space. During the early years, Fran continued to design and build the crystallography equipment she needed but did not pursue patents on any of it. She was 21 years old and apparently still rather naive about such things. The company did succeed in creating the first gem-quality (translucent) star sapphires/rubies in November of 1949 and began selling the stones. However, in March of 1950, Linde (Union Carbide) filed a patent infringement suit against Stuart Laboratories and Bill Hugle and succeeded in shutting down production.  The company folded in 1951 after the courts ruled for Linde.

Linde went into production of its own star sapphires and rubies shortly thereafter, but all of their stones were opaque, having never achieved the translucence of Fran’s stones.

Fran Picture 1940s

From 1951 until 1953, the Hugles founded additional companies with contracts to grow crystals for the nascent electronics industry. Then in 1953, they were both hired by Baldwin Piano Company of Cincinnati. Baldwin at that time was expanding into the electronics business, initially to develop an electronic musical instrument, but later for broader purposes. Fran was Advanced Research Engineer at Baldwin and Bill her supervisor. While at Baldwin, she wanted to learn the business thoroughly and insisted upon building a piano herself from the bottom up. That piano was in our home and all four of her children learned to play on it.

At Baldwin, Fran and Bill became prolific inventors, filing numerous patent applications, some of which Baldwin formally filed and others that languished in Baldwin’s engineering division. Among those were patents filed in 1956 and 1957 for methods of producing semi-conductive films and printed circuits.

(See list below of patent applications.)

The Hugles remained a team throughout Fran’s life, always working together at their various endeavors, though they encountered numerous barriers in their early career to finding companies willing to hire a husband-wife team. Bill was both an inventor and an entrepreneur, while Fran preferred the engineering milieu to the business one. Still, she was not welcomed by many male engineers who resented having a woman supervisor or sometimes even a woman for a peer. Fran often said, “I am a woman and an engineer; I am not a woman engineer.” She rebelled against the idea that gender described the type of engineer she was.

The Hugles worked for other electronics companies after Baldwin, including establishing Westinghouse’s digital circuit plant in Pennsylvania in 1958, but moved to Santa Clara, California in 1961. There they founded numerous innovative electronics companies, all based on equipment and manufacturing processes they developed. One of the first (and the only one that survives under the same name today) was Siliconix. The other significant and highly successful company was Hugle Industries, which manufactured epitaxial reactors and wire bonders, for the industry in the 1960s. Bill was the President and Fran the research director. Though Hugle Industries was later bought out and absorbed by a larger company, one of its spinoffs, Hugle Electronics of Tokyo, is still in business.

The Hugles are considered important pioneers in the development of Silicon Valley. Considered by some her most significant patent, Fran’s 1966 process for Automated Packaging of Semiconductors (granted after her death in 1969) developed TAB (tape-automated bonding) for the first time, allowing the miniaturization we enjoy today in thousands of products from hearing aids to personal computers.

In addition to her technical work, Fran was politically and socially active. She helped found the first Headstart program in the Santa Clara Valley and protested against the Vietnam War, though never crossing the line to civil disobedience as she was a firm believer in the rule of law. She was active in the Unitarian Church and an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Santa Clara.

Fran loved the outdoors, hiking and camping in Yosemite, and surfing in Santa Cruz. She had a sharp wit and could hold her own in any conversation. She also enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen — which she regarded as her home laboratory — much to the chagrin of the children who had to eat her creations.

Fran Obit

Fran succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 40 and died at her home. Her husband Bill went on to found many more electronics and holography businesses both in the US and around the world. He died in 2003.

IEEE has set up a STEM scholarship in her name, the Frances B. Hugle Memorial Scholarship. Any donations can be made through the IEEE website. There is a drop-down menu to select the appropriate scholarship.

Known Patents (and Patent Filings) of Frances Hugle

Note:  earliest patents assigned to Baldwin Piano and not clear if Frances alone or joint with William Hugle; some of later patents assigned to Westinghouse or Stewart-Warner.

Date of Application Date of Patent Patent Number Title
1 1955 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Mounting Means for Small Crystals
2 1956 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Crystal-Growing Process (Salt Melt)
3 1956 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Photoelectric Musical Instrument (Multiple Cells Responsive to Different Ranges)
4 29 March, 1956 01 Aug, 1961 2,994,621 Semi-Conductive Films and Methods of Producing Them (w/Wm. Hugle)
5 29 March, 1956 28 Dec, 1965 3,226,271 Semi-Conductive Films and Methods of Producing Them (w/Wm. Hugle)
6 05 April, 1957 19 Dec, 1961 3,013,956 Methods of Etching Metals in the Platinum Group and Producing Printed Circuits Therefrom (w/ Wm. Hugle)
7 1957 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Chemical Deposition Process (Cadmium Selenide)
8 1957 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Process for Producing Front-Surface Rhodium Mirrors
9 1958 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Method of Cutting Single-Crystal Phosphors (alkali Halides)
10 1958 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Method of Improving Time-Constant of Photocells
11 1958 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Electropiano (Tone Action Activation by Slow Photocells)
12 1958 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Temperature Control for Encoder (Cooling)
13 1958 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Photocell Assembly (Silicon, Photovoltaic)
14 05 Feb, 1959 08 June, 1965 3,187,414 Method of Producing a Photocell Assembly (w/Wm. Hugle)
15 Before 1959 Appl. 633,150 Formation of Semi-Conductive Crystals and Films — have undated application copy
16 Before 1959 Appl. 656,915 Capacitors, including Photo-Capacitors, Employing Semi-Conductors
17 Before 1959 Appl. 791,400 Photocells and Method of Manufacturing Photocells
18 1959 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Photocapacitor Employing Semi-Conductor
19 1959 As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract Wave Form Reproducer (Mirrors Scan)
20 25 July, 1961 A Cheap Planar CBTL Block for Low Frequency (<100 KC) Operation
21 21 Jan, 1963 12 Jan, 1965 3,165,430 Method of Ultra-fine Semiconductor Manufacture
22 08 April, 1963 28 June, 1966 3,258,359 Semiconductor Etch and Oxidation Process
23 22 April, 1963 27 June, 1967 3,328,214 Process for Manufacturing Horizontal Transistor Structure
24 22 April, 1963 12 April, 1966 3,246,214 Horizontally Aligned Junction Transistor Structure
25 30 Sept, 1963 Appl. 312,385 Planar Double-Diffused Transistor Process
26 21 Sept, 1964 Have longhand version, letters to/from patent office Aluminum Ball Bonding
27 14 April, 1965 Have application, no filing number Ultra High Speed Logic Gates in Integrated Form Using Metal-Semiconductor Diodes (w/Jack Bamberg)
28 14 April, 1965 Have application, no filing number Method of Providing Dielectric Insulation for Integrated Circuits (w/Jack Bamberg)
29 14 April, 1965 Have application, no filing number Low Voltage Zener Diodes
30 14 April, 1965 Have application, no filing number A Radiation Resistant Field Effect Transistor
31 07 July, 1965 Have application, no filing number Semiconductor Photo-Latch
32 Oct, 1967 3,344,555
33 20 June, 1966 02 Sept, 1969 3,465,213 Self-Compensating Structure for Limiting Base Drive Current in Transistors
34 22 June, 1966 22 April, 1969 3,440,027 Automated Packaging of Semiconductors (first TAB process)
35 10 Oct, 1966 02 Dec, 1969 3,481,801 Isolation Technique for Integrated Circuits
36 12 June, 1967 09 Sept, 1969 3,465,874 Carrier for Semiconductor Devices (w/Wm. Perrine)
37 15 June, 1967 02 Sept, 1969 3,465,150 Method of Aligning Semiconductors
38 19 July, 1967 06 April, 1971 3,574,007 Method of Manufacturing Improved MIS Transistor Arrays
39 24 July, 1967 06 April, 1971 3,574,014 Masking Technique for Selective Etching
40 13 May, 1968 22 Dec, 1970 3,549,232 Microscopic Alignment Mechanism (filed 11 days before she died)
41 04 Sept, 1968 16 Dec, 1969 3,484,621 Sequencing Mechanism Electronic Logic
42 c. 1965 Paddle Glove (for surfing)   — have undated application copies
43 Undated Integrated Schotky Diode Digital Circuits — have patent disclosure only
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Millie Dresselhaus

The National Science Foundation @NSF has been tweeting about Impressive #WomenInSTEM for #Women’s History Month.  Here is Professor Dresselhaus’  page at the MIT Physics Department Website, citations of her work in Google Scholar, and her bio on the American Institute of Physics Website.

Thanks to librarian Sam Kome for sharing the NSF tweets!


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Irena Dumler

 Thank you to Alwyn Eades for this GGSTEM submission.

Irena Dumler

Irena Dumler (my wife) has been an important figure in the world of electron microscopy. She was born in Czechoslovakia, soon after she was born the family left to escape fascism. They lived briefly in Greece and then Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and finally Chile. Irena completed high school in Chile and, in 1953, applied to attend the Universidad Técnica del Estado (The State Technical University, which has since changed its name to the University of Santiago). She applied to study industrial chemistry. She was told that this was not a career for women. She persisted and they agreed to admit her. But the director of the program said that, of course, she would not do the heavy laboratories that were part of the course. She decided otherwise and did the same full program as the men. She was the first woman in the program and the only woman in her class.

At that time, Chilean universities made it very easy to gain admission. The quality of high schools was very varied. Admitting many students gave even those students from the poorer high schools a chance to get a university education. However the result was that most students failed. The drop out was especially high at the end of the first year. Irena was one of only 12 students to graduate from an entry of about 50 students.

After graduation, Irena worked briefly in industry but then took a job in the University of Chile. She learned electron microscopy and took charge of the electron microscope in IDIEM (Instituto de Investigaciones y Ensayes de Materiales – The Institute for Research and Testing of Materials). It is perhaps worth mentioning here that electron microscopy divides into two rather separate camps: those who study things biomedical and those who study things in the realm of physics and engineering. Fairly early in the history of electron microscopy, it was not so unusual to find women operating microscopes in the biomedical area, but it was very unusual to find a woman operating one in the world of engineering – and still more unusual that a woman be in charge. She was responsible for bringing the first scanning electron microscope to Chile and was successful in opening up a whole field of applications new to Chile.

Throughout this period, Irena was taking care of her two children (by an earlier marriage).

Irena’s standing was such that she was elected Secretary/Treasurer of SLAME: the Latin American Society for Electron Microscopy. SLAME was the professional society that brought together microscopists from across all the Americas. In 1976, the biennial Congress of the Society was held in Santiago and Irena was the principal organizer. She also played a major role two years later when the next Congress was held in Mendoza, Argentina (Mendoza is closer to Chile than it is to Buenos Aires).

Sadly for Chile, Irena left Chile shortly thereafter, to join me in England. She worked at the University of Liverpool (UK) and then for fifteen years until she retired at the University of Illinois (USA). There she did extensive research for industry and was a highly regarded instructor training students in the arts of electron microscopy – many of whom have gone on to make their own successful careers in the field.

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