Dr Elizabeth (Betty) Percival was born on 3 January 1906 in Coventry, as the only surviving child of Frank George Kempson, an engineer, and his wife Emily. The latter encouraged Betty to have a career, and after schooling in Coventry, and at Wolverhampton Girls High School, she entered the University of Birmingham. In 1927, she graduated BSc in Chemistry and Botany, and in 1928, BSc with honours in Chemistry. With hindsight, this proved to be an ideal training for her later research career on algal polysaccharides.
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