Athene Donald's Blog

Reflections on working at the physics/biology interface, being a senior woman scientist, and anything else I feel strongly about


I am a professor of physics in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge working on soft matter and biological physics. I have an active interest in issues around women in science within the university (WiSETI ) and outside (Athena Forum) and equality and diversity more generally; and a growing interest in education and science policy.  I hold a variety of positions on committees etc, but this blog is written in a purely personal capacity.

My first degree and my PhD are both in Physics from Cambridge University. After I spent 4 years at Cornell University in the USA I returned to Cambridge where I have been ever since. I became a professor in 1998 and was elected to the Royal Society in 1999 (I served on their Council 2004-6).  I was the 2009 Laureate for Europe of the L’Oreal/UNESCO For Women in Science Awards, and won the Faraday Medal of the Institute of Physics in 2010. I was appointed a DBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

I am currently the University of Cambridge’s Gender Equality Champion, and from 2011 will chair the Royal Society’s Education Committee. I also chair Committee C of the BBSRC. I was the founding chair of the Institute of Physics Biological Physics Group (2006-10) and first Director of Cambridge University’s Physics of Medicine Initiative (2007-9).

I am married to Matthew, a mathematician, and have two adult children.


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