Prof. Dame Carol Robinson, DBE FRS, is a chemist renowned for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool in chemical biology research, and for her groundbreaking research in structural biology.
She was born in Kent, Britain. At age 16, she left her high school studies to become a lab technician at Pfizer, where she was first exposed to mass spectrometry, then a novel, innovative method. This experience caused her to return to school while she continued working at Pfizer. She completed a BSc in Chemistry and an MSc at Swansea University, and obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge. She conducted postdoctoral training at Oxford, where she
became a faculty member for six years before being appointed as a Professor at Cambridge in
2001. In 2009, Prof. Robinson returned to Oxford, where she is the Dr Lee's Professor of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, a Professorial Fellow at Exeter College, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Designing her own instrumentation, Prof. Robinson recorded the first mass spectra of macromolecules, including dynamic molecular chaperones, viruses, and intact ribosomes, and thus laid the foundations of mass spectrometry in structural biology. Her research has opened a new scientific field (gas-phase structural biology) and provided structural insight into a range of otherwise intractable biological assemblies.
The first female Professor of Chemistry at both the University of Cambridge and the University
of Oxford, Carol serves as a role model for young scientists and an outspoken advocate for women in science. She has personally mentored dozens of students and postdoctoral fellows, the majority of whom are women. She also conducts mentorship programs, endorses awards for young female scholars, and leads work-life balance seminars.
Prof. Robinson’s research achievements have garnered significant international recognition, including the Rosalind Franklin Award (2004), the Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society (2008), and FEBS/EMBO Woman of the Year award (2011). In 2013, she was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Science and Industry. Further accolades followed, with the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science International
Award (2015), Foreign Membership of the US National Academy of Sciences (2017), the Moore Award of the Protein Society (2019), the Novozymes Prize from the Novo Nordisk Foundation (2019), a Royal Medal from the Royal Society (2019), and the Othmer Gold Medal (2020). She has just completed her two year term as President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, London.