Madeleine M. Joullié

Born: March 29, 1927 | Paris, FR

Madeleine M. Joullié begins her interview by describing her early life and education in Brazil followed by her higher education in the United States, with a bachelor's degree at Simmons College and master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was advised by Allan R. Day. Joullié discusses her career in the organic chemistry department at the University of Pennsylvania, including her thoughts on teaching, her students, and her work with Mildred Cohn to implement affirmative action guidelines that led to more hiring of women and minorities to tenure-track positions at Penn. Additionally, Joullié discusses her consulting work, her research, and chemistry textbooks, including Organic Chemistry , which Joullié co-authored with Day.

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.


Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0092
No. of pages: 72
Minutes: 240

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
23 April 1991

Abstract of Interview

The interview begins with Dr. Joullié's description of her early life and education in Brazil. Her father sent her to Simmons College in the United States, where she received her undergraduate degree before obtaining her master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Her mentor, Dr. Allan R. Day, advised her to teach at Penn, where she met and married fellow professor Richard E. Prange. Here Joullié describes Day's teaching and mentoring skills, along with her own views on educating students in the scientific fields and Penn's educational climate, mentioning Charles C. Price. In 1953, Joullié became organic chemistry instructor at Penn. Early on, she overhauled and ran the chemistry laboratories and stockroom. She conducted research on fingerprint reagents for the U. S. Secret Service and is now focusing on cyclic peptides. She reminisces about some of her former students. With Mildred Cohn, Joullié implemented affirmative action guidelines that led to more hiring of women and minorities in tenure-track positions at Penn. Also, she helped institute professional guidelines for chemists through the American Chemical Society. While on a Fulbright scholarship in Brazil, Joullié wrote a book in Portuguese on heterocyclic chemistry. Later, she acted as consultant for Western Electric and Shell. She is collaborating with Paul B. Weisz on angiogenesis research and is also working on a cholinesterase inhibitor for Alzheimer's disease. The interview concludes with a discussion of trends in chemistry textbooks, highlighting Organic Chemistry, which Joullié co-authored with Day.


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1949 Simmons College BSc Chemistry
1950 University of Pennsylvania MSc Chemistry
1953 University of Pennsylvania PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Pennsylvania

1953 to 1957
1957 to 1959
Research Associate
1959 to 1968
Assistant Professor
1968 to 1974
Associate Professor
1974 to 1994


Year(s) Award

Philadelphia Section Award, American Chemical Society


Garvan Medal, American Chemical Society


Faculty Award, American Cyanamid Company


Scroll Award, American Institute of Chemists


Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching


Class of 1970 Endowed Chair


Philadelphia Section Award, AWIS


POCC Award, Philadelphia Organic Chemists Club


Henry Hill Award, American Chemical Society

Table of Contents

Family Background and Situation

Parents' background and father's career. Early life and education in Brazil. Brazilian educational system. Brazilian culture during youth vs. today.


Decision to come to the United States to study at Simmons College. First impressions of the United States and Boston. Decision to move to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue master's and doctoral degrees. Roots of interest in science. Marriage to Richard E. Prange. Mentor relationship with Allan R. Day. Views on education, particularly in science. Influential teachers.

Early Career at Penn

Decision to teach at Penn. Overhaul of the laboratory and stockroom. Encouragement from Charles C. Price. Photochemistry of heterocyclic ketones. Ketenes. Synthesis of organic compounds using carbohydrates. Muscarine and muscarine stereoisomers. Furanomycin. Amino acids. Development of fingerprint reagents for U. S. Secret Service. Cyclic peptides. Views on research support, teaching, and contemporary students. Early students.

Committee Activities at Penn and Outside

Safety committee. Committee on Open Expression and Demonstration on Campus. Collaboration with Mildred Cohn on Committee on the Status of Women; its influence at Penn. Effects of affirmative action at Penn. Colleagues at Penn. Development of professional guidelines for the American Chemical Society. General effects of affirmative action for women and minorities in academia. Mentoring. Promotion to full professor.

Research and Publications

Fulbright scholarship and book on heterocyclic chemistry. Views on research funding. Consulting and outside work. Collaboration on angiogenesis research with Paul B. Weisz. Current research on cholinesterase inhibitor for Alzheimer's disease. Organic Chemistry. Views on current chemistry textbooks.


About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.