Eva Karger: Master's degree in chemistry '61
Eva Karger, CLAS ’61, has loved science for as long as she can remember. As the daughter of a physician, Karger loved to examine objects through the microscope in her father’s office. By the age of ten, she had decided to study chemistry. Karger remembers that her father strongly encouraged both she and her sister to pursue careers in science. Her father, whom Karger describes as a perfectionist, also taught her to strive for continuous improvement and learning throughout life.
Before pursuing a master’s degree at Wayne State, Karger received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City. She describes her experience in the Wayne State Department of Chemistry as being much different than that of her undergraduate studies. While Karger recalls many women studying chemistry in Mexico, at Wayne State she found herself to be one of only three women in the chemistry department.
Despite the differences between the two universities, Karger excelled in the program. She greatly enjoyed her time living in Detroit and fondly remembers the many friends she gained. One, in particular, was a fellow lover of the arts like Karger, and the pair was able to break away from their studies on occasion to see many great concerts and operas in the city.
After graduating from Wayne State, Karger began working for pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis in Ann Arbor. Later, with the encouragement from her mentor, Dr. Norman LeBel, she began looking for employment in Boston. She accepted a position with Polaroid, the company from which she would ultimately retire 33 years later. At Polaroid, she worked as a chemist and later became the Corporate Manager of Toxicology and Health Information, as well as Co-Director of Product Safety. Even after retirement, Karger continued in a consulting role at Polaroid for eight years.
Today, Karger notices more women choosing careers in science, while it still doesn’t seem to be the top choice; something that she would like to see change. Karger is a strong supporter of Wayne State because she believes that the university contributed to her success and she wants to help others achieve their goals. Karger views scholarships as a way to increase opportunities for young women. When the financial barrier is lessened, women may be willing to explore opportunities in science and other less traditional fields.
Karger advises current Wayne State students to “try to expand your vision and never stop being interested in learning new things.” She concludes by saying “if you don’t have success in one area, keep trying new things; don’t let setbacks stop you from moving forward.”