Maria Elisabeth Michel Beyerle

Maria-Elisabeth Michel-Beyerle (1935): Electrochemist with a soft spot for biology

As a professor of physical chemistry at the Technical University of Munich, Maria-Elisabeth Michel-Beyerle was particularly interested in biological processes of charge transfer. She contributed to the structural elucidation of the photosynthetic reaction center.

Maria-Elisabeth Michel-Beyerle was born on August 20, 1935 in Kiel. Her father Konrad Beyerle (1900-1979) was an engineer and is known for developing a gas centrifuge for isotope separation. After graduating from high school, Michel-Beyerle studied chemistry at the Georg-August University in Göttingen from 1955 to 1957. She interrupted her studies for a research stay at Columbia University in New York (USA) as a scholarship holder of the Atomic Energy Commission and then continued her chemistry studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich.
From 1960 to 1962, while writing her diploma thesis, she conducted research at the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen. There she received her doctorate in 1964 with her doctoral thesis "On the electrochemistry of indium".

From 1965 to 1974, Michel-Beyerle worked as a scientific assistant at the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in the working group group of Heinz Gerischer (1919-1994), a proven expert in electrochemistry and doctoral supervisor of the Nobel Prize winner Gerhard Ertl (born 1936) . In 1974, Michel-Beyerle habilitated at the TUM for chemistry and in 1980 she was appointed associate professor for physical chemistry.

Michel-Beyerle was fascinated by charge transfer in biological systems, particularly in plant chloroplasts. In 1981 she initiated a special research area at the TUM that dealt with the elementary processes of photosynthesis. Michel-Beyerle made an important contribution to the isolation and X-ray structure analysis of the photosynthetic reaction center, for which Johann Deisenhofer (b. 1943), Robert Huber (b. 1937) and Hartmut Michel (b. 1948) received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988.

Even after her retirement in 2000, Michel-Beyerle remained active in science. From 2003 to 2007 she coordinated the EU research program "Control of assembly and charge transport dynamics of immobilized DNA". In 2008 she accepted a visiting professorship at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

170 publications bearing her name bear witness to Michel-Beyerle's successful life as a researcher. In addition, she has received many awards. In 2000 she received the Federal Cross of Merit, in 2006 the Bavarian Maximilian Order, the highest award of the Free State of Bavaria for exceptional achievements in science and art, in 2009 the Bavarian Constitutional Medal in silver (2009) and in 2013 the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Medal.

Maria-Elisabeth Michel-Beyerle is still active in science. At the time of writing this biography, she started an extended research stay in the USA.


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last modified: 17.10.2022 13:29 H from Translator