Argonne National Laboratory

Named Fellowships Luminary - Joseph Katz

Joseph Katz was born in 1912 he was the son of Russian immigrants, Dr. Katz grew up in Detroit and spoke only Yiddish when he started school. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from what is now Wayne State University before coming to the University of Chicago to do his graduate work, earning his doctorate in organic chemistry in the early 1940s.

During World War II, he worked at the "Metallurgical Laboratory" at the U. of C. The "Met Lab" was the cover name for a facility where scientists labored for the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb. Over his career, Dr. Katz also made advances in understanding the chemistry of actinide elements, which are born through the production of nuclear energy; and the role of chlorophyll in gathering energy from sunlight.

Katz joined the staff at Argonne National Laboratory shortly after World War II and remained there until he was 80. In the late 1950s, he hit upon the idea of culturing one-celled algae organisms in heavy water, which contains a high level of the isotope deuterium and is used in nuclear experiments. His experiments produced algae with different magnetic resonance properties, which allowed highly detailed measurements of the processes plants use to harness the energy of light. He died on January 28, 2008.

About the Argonne National Laboratory Named Fellowships

Argonne offers these special postdoctoral fellowships to be awarded internationally on an annual basis to outstanding doctoral scientists and engineers who are at early points in promising careers. The fellowships are named after scientific and technical luminaries who have been associated with the laboratory, its predecessors and the University of Chicago since the 1940s. Read more about the program »