The Queen has approved the appointment of Professor Dame Athene Donald DBE FRS to the Mastership of Churchill College, Cambridge in succession to Professor Sir David Wallace CBE, FRS.

Dame Athene completed both her BA in Natural Sciences and her PhD in Physics at Girton College, Cambridge. After postdoctoral work at Cornell University, she returned to Cambridge and joined the Cavendish Laboratory in 1983, becoming Professor of Experimental Physics in 1998. Her research focuses on soft matter physics, studying a wide range of systems of both synthetic and biological origin, including the use of various microscopy techniques.

In addition to holding her position in the Cavendish Laboratory, Dame Athene is Director of WiSETI (the University’s Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Initiative) and is also the University’s first gender equality champion. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, sits on their Council and Equality and Diversity Network and currently chairs their Education Committee. She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, was appointed a trustee of the Science Museum Group in 2011 and was appointed to the European Research Council’s Scientific Council earlier this year. She will relinquish her Fellowship of Robinson College to take up her position at Churchill.

Dame Athene was one of five recipients of the 2009 L’Oreal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science. She has also won the UKRC’s Women of Outstanding Achievement’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and various prizes from the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society.

She is married to the mathematician Dr Matthew J Donald and the couple have two grown-up children. She will take up her appointment as the seventh Master of Churchill College in October 2014, on the retirement of the current Master, Sir David Wallace.

Sir David says: ‘I am delighted that Athene will be the next Master of Churchill College, and offer her my warmest congratulations and very best wishes.’

Dame Athene says: ‘I’m honoured and excited to have been elected the next Master of Churchill College. The College occupies a unique place in Collegiate Cambridge, with an incredibly strong academic reputation, a vibrant community and oversight of a remarkable Archives collection. It will be my challenge and privilege to help to ensure the College’s continuing success on all fronts and to develop its many strengths in the face of the rapidly changing climate of the UK’s Higher Education sector.’

For further information, please contact the Bursar of Churchill College, Mrs Jennifer Brook on E: or T: 01223 336112