Posted on July 30, 2014
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As we crank up the What I See Campaign before our big bash at the Science Museum next Tuesday, we’re introducing you to another of our 18 ambassadors: inspirational women who are great role models and voices for the project.
Today is the turn of Dame Athene Donald – Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge and graduate of Natural Science from Girton College, Cambridge, where she earned her PhD in 1977.
After beginning her career at Cornell University as a postdoctoral associate, she returned to Cambridge to focus on biological and soft systems – particularly the use of the ideas of soft matter physics to study synthetic and biological systems (phew).
We could hardly ask for a better ambassador – Professor Dame Athene is Cambridge’s Gender Equality Champion and received a L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science in 2009, as well as a 2011 UKRC’s Women of Outstanding Achievements Lifetime Achievement Award.
But that’s not it. She is a fellow of Cambridge’s Robinson College, as well as director of Cambridge’s Women in Science, Engineering and Technology initiative. She chairs the Athena Forum, encouraging women to succeed in science, technology, maths and medicine, and is a Trustee of the Science Museum Group and member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council.
In her video, Professor Dame Athene talks about the challenges of being one of the few women in Physics academia: “I was seen as perhaps a threat, but certainly as alien, I was different from other people.” But she refused to walk away from Cambridge, and “in due course things got better again.”