Chemistry professor Eleanor Dodson is the first woman from the University of York to be made a Fellow of the Royal Society.

The award, which was also given to her husband, Professor Guy Dobson, in 1994, is recognised around the world as a sign of the highest distinction in science.

Professor Eleanor Dodson said the honour, which is awarded after the candidate is proposed by at least six existing fellows, was "most unexpected".

She said: "I have been lucky to have had a long career working with a wonderful group of researchers in a rapidly advancing field of structural biology, where we have been able to develop new techniques to meet ever more complicated challenges."

Professor Robin Perutz, head of the department of chemistry, said Professor Dodson had played an "extraordinarily important role" in the development of structural biology.

The Australia-born academic joined the university in 1976 after working as a research assistant at Oxford University for 15 years.

Her research has focused on the development of crystallographic methods of analysing large biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA.

Updated: 09:31 Wednesday, May 21, 2003