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Elspeth Garman
The Humanitarian Award - UK
  

Elspeth Garman's video above, shot and edited by Ed Prosser, is showcased on the TheWIFTS with the kind permission of The Royal Institution.

Elspeth Garman
Crystallographer – Scientist - Mentor
 
For her work as THE leading authority in the field of X-ray Crystallography, which is used to study the internal structure of chemical and biological matter important in understanding and curing diseases, Elspeth Garman is the Honoree of TheWIFTS Foundation Humanitarian Award 2014.

X-ray Crystallography is currently celebrating 100 years, and is used to study the structure of molecules such as, for example, penicillin, insulin and DNA. While other scientists are awarded for cracking biological structures, Elspeth Garman works behind the scenes improving the methods and techniques used by every scientist in this field. As an example of her work, growing a single crystal of an enzyme that gives longevity to TB took Elspeth and her team 15 years. Elspeth Garman is the go-to expert in this field.

Elspeth Garman was born in Rothbury, a small village in mid-Northumberland where her father was the curate. When her father was granted his own parish in Bellingham, she attended primary school there and went on to boarding school in Whitby, Yorkshire. During her formative years, she loved physics, and an inspirational teacher (a nun) was to fan the flames of that passion which has led to a fulfilling, lifelong and successful career.

Garman moved to Oxford to do a PhD in Experimental Nuclear Physics following a degree in Physics at Durham, and married John Barnett, who was an atmospheric physicist who designed and built experiments to go up on NASA satellites to measure atmospheric gases important for global warming. Elspeth worked as a physics researcher and tutor in the University in Oxford for 7 years after finishing her PhD research, until she was invited to move fields completely to crystallography to look after new x-ray equipment being purchased for biological crystallography – which is used to find the 3-D shapes of medically important molecules so that we can understand disease pathways and mechanisms.

Elspeth Garman says: "I was 33 and I knew no biology, but I have been able to use my physics training to develop better methods for doing crystallography. I have enjoyed supervising and mentoring many graduate students (over 90), and have taught over 70 summer schools round the world to spread the techniques widely. I give many Public Engagement talks and enjoy discussing science with anyone who wants to do so." w celebrating its 100th anniversary, is used to study the internal structure of matter. It may sound rather .Garman currently works in the Biochemistry Department in Oxford where she leads a research group (4 postgraduate and 2 undergraduate students) and lectures undergraduates in mathematics for Biochemistry and Biomedicine. Garman is also a tutor for 270 graduate students in all academic disciplines at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Most of Elspeth Garman's day sees her immersed in her much-admired work, which takes her around the world. On a personal level, a journey to Africa as volunteer as a secondary school teacher for 9 months in Manzini, Swaziland, Southern Africa was to be an important and influential passage of time in her life. In 1995, 22 years later, Elspeth Garman became the foster mother of the orphaned daughter of one of her pupils and consequently has two much loved foster grandsons aged 6 and 3, who live in South Africa.

Elspeth's marriage to John (who passed away 4 years ago) produced two daughters, both working in agriculture related jobs. Elspeth Garman says: "My two daughters are a joy. Despite the loss in my family, I feel very fortunate and happy to be alive and to be able to work in a job I love and to live in this beautiful city which has an international feel due to the many students from all over the world. My parents were amazing people, and taught me to make the most of every minute of my life."




 
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