Emet Prize Laureates

Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz

2018 Laureates of Emet Prize

In Category: Exact Sciences
In Field: Chemistry

Leslie Leiserowitz

Jury Statement

“The Emet Prize is awarded to Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz for his pioneering research in crystallography and crystal engineering of organic materials, which has had a significant impact on science worldwide, and for his discoveries that touch upon fundamental questions in all scientific fields – such as the origin of life, the formation of asymmetry in ordered chemical systems, the influence of crystals on malaria, development of drugs, increased rainfall, and more.”



Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz was born in 1934 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He received his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town. In 1959 he immigrated to Israel and joined the department headed by Gerhard Schmidt at the Weizmann Institute of Science as a doctoral student in the field of solid-state chemistry. In 1968, upon completion of post-doctoral studies at Heidelberg University, he returned to the Weizmann Institute as an investigative scientist  in the department of crystallography. In 1983 he was appointed Professor, and held the Patricia Elman Bildner Chair of Solid State Chemistry until 2003. Over the years he held numerous positions at the Institute and at international associations within the crystallography and synchrotron x-ray chemistry communities.

His research throughout his career dealt with central questions in solid-state chemistry. His early work studied the link between molecular structure and organization in different crystals. He and Prof. Meir Lahav conducted a series of studies of photo-chemical reactions in solids, which led to innovative approaches in the study of granulation, growth and dissolution of crystals. These have important theoretical and practical implications, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, for the fundamental understanding of the source of asymmetry in nature and for identifying the link between the macroscopic structure of crystals and molecular chirality. Their work in the field of thin molecular layers in the interface between air and water explains the early stages of molecular crystallization. His research  led to an understanding of the formation of cholesterol crystals; crystals that characterize malaria; increased rainfall through condensation on crystals, and more.

His work has earned him various awards and prizes, including the Israel Prize for Chemistry and Physics, the Prelog Gold Medal, the Aminoff Prize from the Swedish Academy of Science, the Bergman Prize, and the Gold Medal from the Israel Chemical Society, among others. In 1987 he was elected member of the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Germany.