Marianne McDonald trained in classics and music. As Professor of Classics and Theatre at the University of California, San Diego, she earned a reputation for her work on ancient Greek drama, mythology, and modern versions of ancient classics in film, plays, and opera.
Her own widely published poems, plays, and translations also gained recognition. McDonald founded the renowned McDonald Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, whose success rate in treating drug and alcohol abuse is among the highest in the nation. The Scripps McDonald Center helps restore quality of life and integrates patient and family support to rebuild lives. Among her many awards, Marianne received the Order of the Phoenix from the Prime Minister of Greece, the UCI Medal, Civis Universitatis award from UCSD, and gold medals from the mayors of Athens and Piraeus. She raised six children, earned a black belt in karate, and plays classical piano and harp. A 1999 Fulbright professor, adjunct professor at Trinity College Dublin, and a fellow at the National University of Ireland, McDonald is also one of the few women elected to the Royal Irish Academy.