I am Master of Churchill College, Cambridge and a professor emeritus of physics in the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge; my research was on soft matter and biological physics. I have a keen interest in education at all levels and wider policy for science, including around funding. I also have an active interest in issues around women in science, both within the university where I was their first Gender Equality Champion (2010-14) and also more generally (e.g. I recently served on the Athena Swan Review group).   I hold a variety of positions on a range of committees, 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 currently serve on their Council, as I did previously in 2004-6 and 2012-15 and I chaired their Education Committee from 2010-14).  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.

As a long-time champion of interdisciplinary research, I chaired the Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel for REF2021. I am serving on a variety of Royal Society committees, including leading their Community of Interest in Research and Innovation. I have previously been a Member of the University of Cambridge’s Council (2009-14); Trustee of the Science Museum Group (2011-16); a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (2013-18) and I chaired the Scientific Advisory Council of the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (2015.-17).

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

One Response to About

  1. Simona Valleggi says:

    Dear Prof Donald
    I was at the post-doc away day yesterday and I’d just like to thank you for your talk.
    My story is quite complicated and I won’t bother you with that 🙂 !
    I try to be strong and to face life, but sometimes it’s not easy …

    Anyway, I’m quite sure that I’ll think again about your “life example” in my life…
    Thanks for sharing it with me (us)



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