The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will co-host an October symposium in Oxford to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry won by Somerville alumna and Fellow, Professor Dorothy Hodgkin O.M.

UNESCO and Somerville will also be joined as hosts by the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr), which together with UNESCO is running an International Year of Crystallography: a world-wide programme of events and celebrations this year to celebrate the centenary of the birth of X-ray Crystallography, Dorothy Hodgkin’s own field of research.

Dorothy Hodgkin read Chemistry at Somerville as an undergraduate and returned to the College as a Fellow after completing her PhD at Cambridge. She stayed at Somerville and in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford for the remainder of her career, teaching and conducting groundbreaking research in Biochemistry and solving the structures of penicillin, vitamin B12 and ultimately insulin. Following her retirement, the College appointed her to an Honorary Fellowship. Somerville opened a Dorothy Hodgkin building in 1991, and now also hosts a Dorothy Hodgkin Memorial Lecture in March every year, held every in conjunction with the Association for Women in Science and Engineering. (Professor Hodgkin strongly believed in encouraging women scientists.)

The Dorothy Hodgkin Commemoration Symposium will take place on October 29 in Oxford and will feature a number of distinguished speakers, among them Professor (Sir) Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009. The Symposium will celebrate Dorothy Hodgkin’s achievements by focusing on, and raising the profile of, X-ray crystallography, the development of the field over the past century to its modern form, and how it is addressing pressing global issues today.

The 2014 edition of the Somerville Magazine also celebrated this important anniversary, and included a commemorative booklet. The College is now in the early stages of planning a campaign to endow a permanent Fellowship in Dorothy Hodgkin’s name as a lasting legacy. Further details about the project will be circulated in due course. In the meantime, please note that the Symposium will take place on 29 October.

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