German Society for Crystallography celebrates Lieselotte Templeton with inauguration of student prize

March 2, 2023

Crystallographer Liselotte Templeton in front of her hometown Breslau

Early photograph of Lieselotte Templeton in front of her hometown Breslau. Photo edited by Constantin Buyer.

The German Society for Crystallography (DGK) announced last year the inauguration of the Lieselotte Templeton Prize for StudentsThe prize is intended to contribute to increasing the attractiveness of crystallography, especially among students, and to promote young scientists in the field of crystallography. In accordance with its purpose, the DGK awards the prize in memory of preeminent crystallographer Lieselotte Templeton (B. Sc. 1946, Ph.D. '50, Chem).

The prize will be awarded annually to a maximum of three student winners. The first award was made in 2022 to Alexander Feige for his outstanding bachelor thesis with the topic Synthesis, crystal structure analysis, and measurement of physical properties of the binary beryllium pnictides BePn2 (Pn = PAsSb) under application of X-ray and electron microscopic techniques

The prize consists of a certificate, a three-year membership in the German Society for Crystallography and the financing of the participation in the next annual meeting by the DGK. The winners are free to give a lecture on their final topic at the conference in the context of the contributions of the AK Young Crystallographers. Prizes will be awarded to Bachelor’s, Master’s and Diploma theses and comparable final papers in which methods and approaches of crystallography have been successfully applied.

Life and Work of Lieselotte Templeton

Lieselotte Templeton (née Kamm) was born in 1918 in Breslau, Silesia, which was part of Germany at the time. Today it is in Poland. She was the child of a modern, secular, Jewish family. Certainly, her well-educated relatives had a strong influence on her. (Her father was a lawyer. Her uncle Otto Stern was a physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993. Her uncle Kurt Stern was a botanist.) In 1933, the family left Germany, foreseeing the upcoming events in Europe and the rise of the Nazis. During the next three years Lieselotte finished high school in Versailles. Afterwards, the family emigrated to the United States

Lieselotte studied at UC Berkeley and finished her B. Sc. 1946 and her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1950. During her doctorate she worked on the plutonium project of the Manhattan District. This was also the time when she met her to-be-husband David Templeton while they attended the same class. After she graduated, because of anti-nepotism rules in practice at the time, it was difficult for her to start working. Eventually she found work on special projects and when the rules were relaxed, she and David did their most active research together.

Lieselotte became interested in computer science and  programmed the analytical absorption program AGNOST/ABSOR, which helped her to solve the crystal structures of several compounds with heavy elements. Additionally, it was also particularly important while “studying anomalous dispersion at absorption edges with synchrotron radiation. Our measurements with compounds of cesium and several rare earth elements demonstrated the exceptionally large effects which occur at L absorption edges.” These investigations lead to the development of a technique using anomalous scattering of multiple wavelengths, which is a standard method for protein structure analysis, today. Additionally, Lieselotte and David used the polarized nature of synchrotron radiation to show X-ray dichroism in ansitropic molecules [d, e]. Thus, they were able to demonstrate polarized, anomalous scattering in experimentally. For their joint work, the Templetons received the Patterson Award in 1987 for the use, measurement, and analysis of anomalous X-ray scattering.

Lieselotte Templeton passed away in 2009 in Berkeley, California (USA), one year before her husband David Templeton.