Dame Athene Donald
Athene Margaret Griffith
15 May 1953
|Residence||Cambridge, England, UK|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge (BA, PhD)|
|Spouse(s)||Matthew J. Donald|
|Thesis||Electron microscopy of grain boundary embrittled systems (1977)|
|Doctoral students||Aline Miller|
Dame Athene Margaret Donald DBE FRS (née Griffith; born 15 May 1953) is a British physicist. She is Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College, Cambridge.
Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.
A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.
Experimental physics is the category of disciplines and sub-disciplines in the field of physics that are concerned with the observation of physical phenomena and experiments. Methods vary from discipline to discipline, from simple experiments and observations, such as the Cavendish experiment, to more complicated ones, such as the Large Hadron Collider.
Donald was born Athene Margaret Griffith in London to Walter Griffith and Annette Marian Tylor.She was educated at Camden School for Girls and Girton College, Cambridge. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Science (Theoretical Physics) followed by a PhD in 1977 for research on electron microscopy of grain boundary embrittled systems.
The Camden School for Girls (CSG) is a comprehensive secondary school for girls, with a co-educational sixth form, in the London Borough of Camden in north London. It has about one thousand students of ages eleven to eighteen, and specialist-school status as a Music College. The school has long been associated with the advancement of women's education.
Girton College is one of the 31 constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge. The college was established in 1869 by Emily Davies, Barbara Bodichon and Lady Stanley of Alderley as the first women's college in Cambridge. In 1948, it was granted full college status by the university, marking the official admittance of women to the university. In 1976, it was the first Cambridge women's college to become coeducational.
The Natural Sciences Tripos (NST) is the framework within which most of the science at the University of Cambridge is taught. The tripos includes a wide range of Natural Sciences from physical sciences to biology which are taught alongside the history and philosophy of science. The tripos covers several courses which form the University of Cambridge system of Tripos. It is known for its broad range of study in the first year, in which students cannot study just one discipline, but instead must choose three courses in different areas of the natural sciences and one in mathematics. As is traditional at Cambridge, the degree awarded after Part II is a Bachelor of Arts (BA). A Master of Science degree (MSci) is available to those who take the optional Part III. It was started in the 19th Century.
She worked at Cornell University as a postdoctoral associate, where she switched working on metals to polymers, before returning to Cambridge (Department of Materials Science) in 1981 and to the Cavendish Laboratory in 1983. She became Professor of Experimental Physics in 1998. Her major domain of study is soft matter physics, particularly its applications to living organisms and the relationship between structure and other properties.
Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."
The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the School of Physical Sciences. The laboratory was opened in 1874 on the New Museums Site as a laboratory for experimental physics and is named after the British chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish. The laboratory has had a huge influence on research in the disciplines of physics and biology.
Her research has applied microscopy, and in particular Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy to the study of both synthetic and biological systems, notably protein aggregation.
The environmental scanning electron microscope or ESEM is a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that allows for the option of collecting electron micrographs of specimens that are "wet," uncoated, or both by allowing for a gaseous environment in the specimen chamber.
Further details of her research can be found in the citation for the Faraday Medal she was awarded by the Institute of Physics in 2010:
Professor Donald's deeply innovative and productive research is in experimental soft condensed matter physics, incorporating polymer and colloidal physics, and more recently biological physics. Her early Cornell work on glassy polymer crazing remains very influential and was followed by insightful studies of shear deformation in liquid crystal polymers (LCPs).
Here she was able to demonstrate the ubiquity of the so-called banded texture after shear of LCP's and study the underlying packing of the molecules by electron microscopy showing how they followed a serpentine trajectory in several thermotropics. She also carried out important work on lyotropic systems, including a synthetic polypeptide, studying its gelation and phase diagram.
Donald's mid-career launch into biological physics followed naturally from this polymer work leading to the physics of food and thence to starch. The starch granule structure and its changes during different processing histories were brilliantly analysed using a novel X-ray scattering technique. Structural changes during cooking, with the amylopectin molecule imaginatively treated as a side chain liquid crystalline polymer, brought understanding to different processing treatments. The misfolding of proteins forming amyloid fibrils is well recognized in the aetiology of many diseases, particularly those of old age. Donald's recent work has demonstrated that this important and challenging problem can be powerfully addressed by the approaches of polymer science and furthermore suggests an intriguing connection between the structures observed in both fields.
Donald's impressive achievements in biological physics are strongly based on the imaginative use environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), neutron and X-ray scattering, optical microscopy and infrared spectroscopy. With ESEM in particular her success is supported by her many earlier pioneering investigations of its basic physics. To maintain this vital interchange between soft matter physics and biology, Donald has founded a well resourced Biology and Soft Systems (BSS) Group at the Cavendish.
Donald was a Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge from 1981 to 2014, when she became Master of Churchill College. She was also a member of the ESPCI ParisTech Scientific Committee during that same time period.
Robinson College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. Founded in 1977, Robinson is one of the newest Oxbridge colleges and is unique in having been intended, from its inception, for both undergraduate and graduate students of both sexes.
From 2009 to 2014, she served as a member of the Council of Cambridge University. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the Campaign for Science and Engineering,and was appointed a Trustee of the Science Museum Group from 2011-16. She has been a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council since 2013. She chaired the Scientific Advisory Council of the Department of Culture, Media and Sports 2015-17.
Donald was the first chair of the Institute of Physics Biological Physics group from 2006 to 2010 and coordinated the writing of lecture notes in Biological Physics.From 2006 to 2008 and 2012–15 she served on the Council of the Royal Society and from 2010 to 2014 she chaired their Education Committee. For 2015–16 she was President of the British Science Association.
Donald has been an outspoken champion of women in science. From 2006 to 2014 she was Director of WiSETI, Cambridge University's Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Initiative, and she was the University's first Gender Equality Champion from 2010 to 2014. Outside the University, she chaired the Athena Forum from 2009 to 2013, an organisation which aims to provide a strategic oversight of developments that seek to, or have proven to, advance the career progression and representation of women in science, technology, mathematics, and medicine (STEM) in UK higher education. She sat on the BIS (later BEIS) Diversity group, and serves the Equality and Diversity Board of Sheffield University and the Gender Balance Working Group of the ERC; she is a Patron of the Daphne Jackson Trust. She regularly writes on the topic of women in science in both mainstream mediaand on her personal blog. She also gives many talks on the issue.
She was awarded the UKRC's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011,a Suffrage Science award by the MRC in 2013 and her portrait by Tess Barnes hangs in the Cavendish Laboratory. Donald talks about some of the issues for women in science in this video.
In 1999 Donald was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Her nomination reads:
Athene Donald is distinguished for her work relating mechanical properties to the structure of polymers. She showed that polymer crazing could not be understood without reference to the entanglement network, and showed that two processes are involved, chain scission and chain disentanglement, depending differently on temperature and molecular weight. This work underpins the understanding of brittleness and ductility in solid polymers. She pioneered studies of thermotropic liquid crystalline polymers via transmission electron microscopy, revealing the ubiquity of banded textures after shear flow in these materials. More recently, she has developed X-ray methods for characterising starch, thereby opening up the field to novel physical methods which enhance those of the plant biologists and food scientists.
Donald has also been awarded the following:
Donald is married to mathematician Matthew J. Donald in 1976;the couple have two children; one son and one daughter.
Ahmed Hassan Zewail was an Egyptian-American scientist, known as the "father of femtochemistry". He was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry and became the first Egyptian to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field. He was the Linus Pauling Chair Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Physics, and the director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at the California Institute of Technology.
The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a scientific charity that works to advance physics education, research and application. It was founded in 1874 and has a worldwide membership of over 50,000. The IOP supports physics in education, research and industry. In addition to this, the IOP provides services to its members including careers advice and professional development and grants the professional qualification of Chartered Physicist (CPhys), as well as Chartered Engineer (CEng) as a nominated body of the Engineering Council. The IOP's publishing company, IOP Publishing, publishes more than 70 academic journals and magazines.
Sumio Iijima is a Japanese physicist, often cited as the inventor of carbon nanotubes. Although carbon nanotubes had been observed prior to his "invention", Iijima's 1991 paper generated unprecedented interest in the carbon nanostructures and has since fueled intense research in the area of nanotechnology.
Sir Aaron Klug was a Lithuanian-born, South African-educated, British biophysicist, and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biologically important nucleic acid-protein complexes.
Sir Samuel Frederick Edwards FLSW FRS, "universally known as 'Sam'," was a Welsh physicist.
Dame Julia Stretton Higgins is a polymer scientist. Since 1976 she has been based at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, where she is Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Investigator.
Sir Charles William Oatley OBE, FRS FREng was Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Cambridge, 1960–1971, and developer of one of the first commercial scanning electron microscopes. He was also a founder member of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Richard Henderson, CH, FRS, FMedSci, HonFRSC is a Scottish molecular biologist and biophysicist and pioneer in the field of electron microscopy of biological molecules. Henderson shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 with Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank.
Arthur Bruce McDonald, P.Eng, is a Canadian astrophysicist. McDonald is the director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration and held the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario from 2006 to 2013. He was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Japanese physicist Takaaki Kajita.
Dame Linda Partridge is a British geneticist, who studies the biology and genetics of ageing (biogerontology) and age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Patridge is currently the Weldon Professor of Biometry at the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment of University College London, director of UCL's Institute of Healthy Ageing and founding director of the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing.
Guo Kexin, also known as Ke-Xin Guo or K. H. Kuo, was a Chinese physicist, metallurgist and crystallographer. He was an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and is considered the main pioneer of electron microscopy in China.
Michael John Whelan HonFRMS FRS FInstP is a British scientist.
Ondrej L. Krivanek FRS is a Czech/British physicist resident in the United States, and a leading developer of electron-optical instrumentation.
Maximilian Haider is an Austrian physicist.
Dame Pratibha Laxman Gai, Mrs Gai-Boyes is a British microscopist and Professor and Chair of Electron Microscopy and Director at The York JEOL Nanocentre, Departments of Chemistry and Physics, University of York. She created the atomic-resolution environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM) and is an outspoken advocate for women with careers in science.
Joachim Frank is a German-born American biophysicist at Columbia University and a Nobel laureate. He is regarded as the founder of single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson. He also made significant contributions to structure and function of the ribosome from bacteria and eukaryotes.
Peter Duncumb is a British physicist specialising in X-ray microscopy and microanalysis. He is best known for his contribution to the development of the first electron microprobe.
Jacques Dubochet is a retired Swiss biophysicist. He is a former researcher at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, and an honorary professor of biophysics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.
Gail McConnell is a Scottish physicist who is Professor of Physics and director of the centre for Biophotonics at the University of Strathclyde. She is interested in optical microscopy and novel imaging techniques, and leads the Mesolens microscope facility where her research investigates linear and non-linear optics.
Aline Fiona Miller is a Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Manchester. She specialises in the characterisation of polymer, biopolymer and peptides, using neutron and x-ray scattering, as well as the development of functionalised nanostructures for regenerative medicine and toxicology testing.
Sir David Wallace
| Master of Churchill College |