Maria Lipp

Maria Lipp (1892-1966): Chemical pioneer in Aachen

Maria Lipp was the first woman to acquire a doctorate from the Technical University of Aachen. She remained loyal to her home university for life. She completed her habilitation in organic chemistry in Aachen and was finally appointed the first full professor at RWTH Aachen University.

Maria Lipp (née Savelsberg) was born on April 6, 1892 as the daughter of an old-established family in Stolberg, Rhineland. Her father, a graduate engineer and senior building officer, got her excited about the natural sciences at an early age. After graduating from high school, the highly intelligent engineering daughter enrolled at the Technical University (TH) in nearby Aachen, today's Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen. She was only the eighth student there and soon became the favorite student of the organic chemist and privy councilor Julius Bredt (1855-1937). The bachelor adopted the ambitious student, although her parents were still alive.

In 1917 she, now called Bredt-Savelsberg, passed her diploma examination with distinction. Just one year later, she was the first woman to receive a doctorate in engineering at the TH Aachen, also with distinction. Under the direction of her adoptive father, she had dealt with the organic compounds ?-methylcamphor and 2-methylcamphoric acid in her doctoral thesis. She broadened the subject in her habilitation thesis, which she completed in 1923. The font was entitled "Chemistry of Hydroaromatic Compounds, Chemistry of Camphor and Terpenes".

The young chemist met her future husband Peter Lipp (1885-1947), Professor of Organic Chemistry in Aachen, in Bredt's institute. After the wedding in 1925, she took his name. She initially stayed as an assistant at the Aachen Institute, but then received teaching assignments for dye chemistry, including at the dyeing school of the University of Upper Alsace in Mulhouse. After stays in Graz and Zurich, she returned to Aachen in 1938, where she was initially appointed as an extraordinary and later as a full professor of organic chemistry. This made her the first female professor at RWTH Aachen University.

After the Second World War, the professor couple Lipp rebuilt the chemical institute of the TH Aachen. Even after the death of her husband in 1947, Lipp remained loyal to ?her? university. On May 2, 1949, she was confirmed as a full professor at the TH Aachen. From 1954 to 1956 she was dean of her faculty.

Maria Lipp died on December 12, 1966 in Aachen. She was buried next to her husband in the old cemetery in Bad Honnef.


  • U. Kalkmann: The Technical University of Aachen in the Third Reich (1933-1945), Verlag Mainz, 2003
  • R. Rappmann: The first doctorate of a woman, in: Exhibition of the university library on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Technical University of Aachen, Documentation Aachen, 1996, pp. 40, 59

The texts published in this series do not claim to be scientific publication. Authors and other persons involved are not experts in the history of science. The purpose of the series is to introduce the mostly unknown chemists and to remind them of the well-known chemists. We encourage readers who want to know more to study scientific sources on the women presented. In some cases there are detailed chemical-historical studies.

Prof. Dr. Eberhard Ehlers
Prof. Dr. Heribert Offermanns

Editorial editing
Dr. Uta Neubauer

Project management
Dr. Karin J. Schmitz (GDCh Public Relations)

The authors are responsible for the content of the biographies.
The content presented on these pages has been carefully compiled. However, the authors, editors and publishers assume no responsibility or liability for the completeness and correctness of the content or for typing errors.

Photo: RWTH Aachen University Archive, Sig .: Photo collection 3.2.9_f (detail from photo)

back to publications

back to overview biographies of women chemists

last modified: 05.07.2021 11:18 H from K.J.Schmitz