Celebrating International Women’s Day: Dr Margaret Hope Alston-Garnjost

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Dr Margaret Hope Alston-Garnjost
Dr Margaret Hope Alston-Garnjost (23 January 1929 – 7 February 2019)

On International Women’s Day, we applaud women across the globe and celebrate their accomplishments, strength, and empowerment. Today, the University of Liverpool is incredibly proud to share the story of valued alumna, Dr Margaret Hope Alston-Garnjost.

Born in 1929 in London, England to Pauline and Norman Alston – some may have perceived Margaret to be ahead of her time. Through her hard work and dedication, Margaret became a talented physicist and her extensive research on the liquid hydrogen bubble chamber is still significant today.

In 1955, Margaret earned her Doctorate in Physics at Liverpool, where she was also encouraged to further her knowledge in the United States. With recommendations from the University of Liverpool, Margaret secured a position at the Lawrence Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley. It was here where she embarked upon her remarkable career and met her future husband Bertram whom she married in 1966.

Margaret co-authored several articles with her manager Dr. Luis Alvarez, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1968. It is believed that Dr. Alvarez’s achievements would not have been realised without the contributions made by Margaret and his team.

Margaret passed away in February 2019, having lived a full life, and was described by her family as “always cheerful and kind”.  Her kindness has had a lasting impact through her Liverpool legacy.  Margaret’s generosity gave a lifeline to many students during the Covid-19 Pandemic, by contributing £100,000 towards the Student Crisis Fund Campaign.

Did you know that Margaret funded 20% of the £3 million target which was needed to build the prestigious Yoko Ono Lennon Centre?  Next time you visit the Centre look for the seminar room named in her honour.

Margaret also helped part-fund a PhD Physics Student, allowing them to follow in her footsteps and visit the Lawrence Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley: 

"When I was accepted onto a PhD at Liverpool, I knew I had just been given an amazing opportunity, but the legacy gift was brilliant news I couldn't have hoped for. The extended funding gives me more security, and the chance to spend time exploring more projects in my field. The funding for training is definitely something I will be taking advantage of, and the chance to visit Berkeley is something I never expected to be able to do." – C. Swain (PhD Physics Student)

The University is most privileged to have been remembered in such an extraordinary way by Margaret and Bertram Alston-Garnjost. Together they have made great things happen for students at Liverpool. 

If you are inspired to consider continuing your story at Liverpool through a lasting legacy please contact Carolyn Jones: carolyn.jones@liverpool.ac.uk