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Professor Dame Athene Donald 

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Professor Dame Athene Donald was awarded both her BA (Natural Sciences, Theoretical Physics) and PhD (in Physics) by the University of Cambridge, studying at Girton College. She then spent 4 years as a postdoctoral research associate in the USA at Cornell University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, before returning to Cambridge where she has been ever since.

Initially holding an SRC fellowship in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, she returned to the Cavendish Laboratory as one of the first generation of Royal Society University Research Fellows. Thereafter she was appointed a Lecturer in 1985, a Reader in 1995 and a Professor in 1998. A year later she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Her research field can best be described as soft matter and biological physics, including polymers, biopolymers and, most recently, cellular biophysics. From 1983-2014 she was a fellow of Robinson College.

Within the University she has served on Council from 2009-14 and several of its dependent committees, and was the Gender Equality Champion from 2010-14. She has served on a variety of committees at the Royal Society, chaired its Education Committee from 2010-14 and currently serves on its Council (as she has before) and is a member of the Science Policy Committee. She served on the Scientific Council of the European Research Council from 2013-18 and was a Trustee of the Science Museum from 2011-16.

She has been awarded prizes by the Institute of Physics (CV Boys Prize, Mott Medal and Faraday Medal) and was the Bakerian Lecturer of the Royal Society in 2006.

In 2009 she was awarded the L’Oreal/UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for Europe. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire for Services to Physics in 2010. She holds a number of Honorary Doctorates. She is a regular blogger, particularly about gender issues is also a regular tweeter.

At The Times Higher Education Awards 2019, Athene received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her ‘indefatigable and pioneering’ efforts to push gender equality to the top of the science policy agenda. She has also given evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, for its ongoing inquiry into people and skills in UK Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Commons Science and Technology Committee on diversity in STEM.

Athene is married to Matthew Donald, a mathematician; they have two adult children, James and Margaret and two grandchildren.

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01 October 2014 – Present

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01223 337382