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Professor Dame Athene Donald, DBE

Master of Churchill College, Cambridge

Professor Athene Donald

Professor Donald has been at the Cavendish since 1983, and became a professor in 1998. Her activity sits within the sector of Biological and Soft Systems, and focusses on using the ideas of soft matter physics to study a wide range of systems of both synthetic and biological origin. There is an emphasis on using different types of microscopy, but these have not been the only approaches used. Other techniques used include passive microrheological techniques for the study of a range of complex fluids, including the inside of cells; we have been exploring cell adhesion, mitosis and spreading using optical approaches (including the effect of external physical cues such as topographical patterns); and explored protein aggregation at intermediate lengthscales, predominantly using model protein systems including beta lactoglobulin and insulin but extending to A beta.

The unifying theme throughout Athene’s career has been understanding structure-function-processing relationships.

Since October 2014 she has been Master of Churchill College. From 2010-14 she was the University of Cambridge's Gender Equality Champion. Athene had been a member of Royal Society Council and served on numerous of their committees. She was the founding chair of the Institute of Physics Biological Physics Group (2006-10) and was Project Director of the IOP's Teaching Biological Physics project. She was a Trustee of the Science Museum Group and remains a member of the Science Museum Advisory Board; since 2013 she has been a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council; and chairs the Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel for REF2021. Athene occasionally writes for the Guardian Science Blogs at Occam's Typewriter.