Marjory Stephenson (1885-1948)

Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry - Ref: Marelene and Geoffrey Rayner-Canham, Chemistry in Britain, 35, 1, p.48

Marjory Stephenson

Of all of 'Hoppy's' (Frederick Gowland Hopkins) ladies, Marjory Stephenson is most deserving of recognition. The biochemical historian, Robert Kohler, showed that the field of bacterial biochemistry was, in large part, defined by Stephenson's work. (R. E. Kohler, Isis 1985, 76, 162). She was born on 24 January 1885 at Burwell, a village near Cambridge, and it was at Cambridge that she was to spend most of her life.

Stephenson attended Newnham from 1903 until 1906. After leaving Newnham she would have liked to have studied medicine, but lacking the financial resources, took teaching positions in domestic and household science for the next five years. Her first saviour was R. A. Plimmer at University College, London, who invited her in 1911 to teach advanced classes in the biochemistry of nutrition and to join his research group. As a result of her research on fat metabolism and on diabetes, Stephenson was awarded a Beit memorial fellowship in 1913. However, she relinquished the fellowship on the outbreak of war, running soup kitchens in France and then supervising a nurses' convalescent home in Salonika. She was awarded an MBE for her war work. In 1919, she took up her Beit fellowship again, moving to Cambridge to work with the greatest influence on her career, Hopkins. After the expiry of the fellowship, she worked on annual grants from the Medical Research Council until 1929 when she received a permanent post.

It was Hopkins who encouraged Stephenson to develop her own interests and she chose chemical microbiology. Stephenson was the first to separate a pure cell-free enzyme from bacteria - lactic dehydrogenase from E. coli. Next, with Leonard Stickland, she characterised the enzyme hydrogenase from bacteria, showing that bacteria used hydrogenase to produce methane and hydrogen sulphide. Next, she studied adaptive enzymes - enzymes that are not needed under normal conditions, but synthesised by bacteria in response to some external influence, such as a change in the growth medium. Her research work culminated in her book Bacterial metabolism, first published in 1929. The book was highly regarded, with a second edition published in 1938 and a third in 1949, with a paperback reprint appearing in 1966. Among the many honours for her role as a founder of bacterial chemistry was election in 1945 as one of the first two woman fellows of the Royal Society. She remained single, dying on 12 December 1948.

Obituary Notice in PDF

Wikipedia

© Copyright The Royal Society of Chemistry, 1999. All rights reserved.

Events
Tai Chi Classes Poster - Click for larger image
Click for Larger Image
Action
Proposal for battery energy storage facility
Pivot Power Logo
Invite to Consultation
(PDF File)
• Aura Power, a renewable energy developer, is looking to develop a battery-based energy storage system (BESS) on land at Weirs Drove, Burwell

View PDF File
Proposed Battery Storage Facility - Parish Council Questions and Answers
More information on RADE Web Site
Area Photos
FynNet
Burwell Lode Bridge
Burwell - St Mary's Church
Burwell Windmill
Burwell Lode
Village News
Recreation ground developments almost complete with upgrade to Pavillion and Skatepark, Trim Track construction and new Tennis Courts
Proposed Solar Farm
UK's biggest solar farm planned for east of England (Click on image for larger version)
See Sunnica Web Site for more information
BBC News - Cambridgeshire
Peterborough teen knifepoint rapist detained indefinitely
A boy pulled a knife from his trousers on a cycle path and dragged his victim into bushes.
Cambridge research into driverless cars finds improved traffic flow
Researchers programmed 16 robotic model cars to talk to each other when confronted with a hold up.
Cambridgeshire policeman who drove into suspect 'hit wrong pedal'
PC Lee Rumsey told a colleague he had had "a senior moment", his trial hears.
Tommy Whitmore jailed over fatal Peterborough crash
Siblings Tomas Kocko and Jana Kockova and her fiancé Marko Makula were all killed in the collision.
Cambridge student wins Victoria and Albert Museum prize for 'tender illustrations'
A student is the fourth in a row from her university to win a V&A Award.
Cambridgeshire guided busway fire: Car and bus collide in Longstanton
A bus driver is believed to be injured following a crash on a guided busway.
Sir Rod Stewart donates to Market Deeping Model Railway Club
A model railway club lost years of work when vandals destroyed their exhibition on Saturday.
Royal Mail to launch parcel postboxes
Customers will be able to post parcels in the same way as letters, as long as postage is pre-paid.
Commuters braced as railway timetables change
Rail firms and regulators say there will be no repeat of the chaos which hit the network in 2018.
'Incredibly rare' Roman coin found during A14 roadworks
The 3rd Century coin was minted by an ill-fated Roman emperor who reigned for just two months.
Peterborough by-election contenders
Fifteen candidates will fight for the seat whose previous MP was removed following a recall petition.

To Top Of Page