THATCHER PROFESSORIAL CHAIR

The Margaret Thatcher Professorial Chair of Chemistry was endowed in 1985 by the Weizmann Institute Foundation of the United Kingdom, and named in honor of then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (A few chairs endowed by national Weizmann committees were named after incumbent heads of government, e.g., the Lester B. Pearson Chair of Protein Research by the Canadian Society for WIS.)

Mrs. Thatcher, later ennobled as the 1st Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, not only is thus far the only British PM to have a degree in the sciences, but hers actually was in chemistry. During her 4th year of studies, she carried out some crystallographic research under the guidance of Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin before joining the staff of J. Lyons as a food chemist by day, while at night studying law and preparing for the British equivalent of bar exams. 

In fact, there are only two degrees of separation between the Iron Lady and the Weizmann Institute: Prof. Hodgkin was also the Ph.D. supervisor of Gerhard Schmidt, the founder of the crystallography lab at Weizmann and future first Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry. 

Fittingly, the longtime first incumbent of the Thatcher Chair was Schmidt's former student, the supramolecular chemist Meir Lahav. When Prof. Lahav retired, the chair devolved on the closest thing to a recently tenured crystallographer they could find, namely yours truly :-)

© 2016-7 by Gershom Martin, adapted from
Scientist Personal theme.
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