The Science of Goo
Speaker: Professor Dame Athene Donald
We all recognize goo when we see it. It turns up in many places and guises from food to playthings, from frogspawn to medical ointments. But what makes a good ‘goo’ and can we control the ‘gooiness’? There are many words to describe the consistency of these materials ranging from runny to viscous, sticky and spreadable. I will describe the kinds of molecules that can be used to make these materials, why they have the effect they have, and how understanding them can be powerful for creating new medical treatments, help to understand why shampoos don’t simply roll off our hair and down the drain and control the way we appreciate food as we eat it. And all this lies in the domain of the physicist!
Athene Donald did her first and second degrees at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, before spending 4 years at Cornell University in the USA. She returned to Cambridge in 1981 and after 2 years in the Materials Science Department she returned to the Cavendish Laboratory, where she set up a group in experimental soft matter and over the years this has moved ever closer to biological physics. She became a Professor in 1998 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999. In 2009 she won the L’Oreal/UNESCo For Women in Science Laureate for Europe and she has also won prizes from the IOP (CV Boys, Mott Prizes and the Faraday Medal) and the Royal Society. She was appointed DBE in 2010. Since 2014 she has been Master of Churchill College.