Luise Holzapfel

Luise Holzapfel (1900-1963): pioneer of silicate research

Her scientific Career began at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Silicate Research and ended with early retirement. Luise Holzapfel researched organic silicic acid compounds as well as the dust lung disease silicosis.

Luise Holzapfel was born on March 14, 1900 in Höxter an der Weser and grew up in a middle-class family of lawyers. Her father Wilhelm Holzapfel was a member of the government, her mother Elsa had no job. Holzapfel did not pass the Abitur, which was unusual for young women at the time, at an evening grammar school in Berlin at the age of 29. From 1929 to 1934 she studied chemistry, Physics, technology and economics at the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin. In October 1936 she was the first woman to receive her doctorate from the new mathematics and natural science faculty. Her doctoral thesis was entitled "On the photochemical combustion of carbon oxide".

In 1939 Holzapfel got a job as a research assistant at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Silicate Research in Berlin-Dahlem. There she completed her habilitation in 1943 with a thesis on the subject of "Organic Silica Compounds". In the following year she was appointed lecturer and from 1945 she headed a department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Silicate Research, where she continued to work on organic silica compounds. With the transition of the West German institutes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society to the Max Planck Society, Holzapfel's department was incorporated into the Würzburg Max Planck Institute for Silicate Research as a branch in 1952, but had to close ten years later for cost reasons. Holzapfel was given early retirement in 1963.

In addition to her fundamental contributions to organic silicon compounds, Holzapfel made a name for herself as a researcher into silicosis, the quartz dust lung, which is now recognized as an occupational disease. The association ?Natur und Technik?, based in her hometown of Höxter, chose the silicate researcher as the namesake for its MINT competition (MINT stands for mathematics, Computer Science, natural sciences and technology), in which children and young people can win the Luise Holzapfel Prize.

Luise Holzapfel died after a serious illness on September 21, 1963 in Berlin.


  • A. Vogt, Berlinische Monatsschrift 9, 2000, 3, p. 80

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last modified: 10.05.2021 16:19 H from N/A