Alice Ball was an American chemist who invented a chemical extraction process called the Ball Method. She was born in Seattle Washington and is the granddaughter of a slavery abolitionist, J.P. Ball. Alice graduated from the University of Washington in 1912 with a pharmaceutical chemistry degree and a bachelor’s degree in 1914. She went on to complete a master’s degree, during which she researched how to extract active ingredients from the root of the Kava plant, now used for its sedative and tranquilizing qualities.

After hearing about her skills as a chemist, Alice was asked by a U.S. public health officer to use her technique with chaulmoogra oil, oil that had been associated with the treatment of leprosy for years. Alice succeeded in isolating certain active agents from the oil that later were injected to treat leprosy (also known as Hansen’s Disease). This method was used until the 1940s when sulfones came into use for the treatment of leprosy.

Alice was the first woman to graduate from the college of Hawaii with a master’s degree in chemistry. After her death at the young age of twenty-four, the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii awarded her their highest honor, the Regents Medal of Distinction.

Alice Augusta Ball is one of the biographies in the STEM Women Study Guide. The Guide is a classroom tool that encourages & educates women in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM)
The Spiral Notebook, including discussion questions, was created in coordination with
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