Most mothers want their children to become intelligent, rounded individuals. More often than not it is left up to the forces of nature and nurture to make this dream a reality. But one woman is taking no chances.

Sally Adams, 50, is appealing for an egg donor to help her conceive a child, but has asked that only women who graduated from either Oxford or Cambridge come forward.

For more than a decade, Ms Adams has tried and failed to become a mother, spending more than £15,000 on IVF treatment in the process. Despite living in Hampstead, north London, she believes there is a better chance of finding an intellectual donor from outside the capital and wants women from the country's two most elite universities to come forward and donate their eggs.

"Oxford is a very good possible catchment area," she said. "Many of my roots are there. I own a house in Oxford and I studied at Oxford University. Oxford and Cambridge are the seats of people who are both academic and intellectual and often very altruistic. An egg donor needs to be under 32 years old, and I am looking for someone who is educated, intellectual and possibly has connections with the colleges."

Ms Adams, an academic, is single and has previously been through IVF cycles with donor eggs, travelling as far as Crete to carry out the process. But problems with the donated eggs meant she never became pregnant. She said: "I love and adore children and I would always put the child first. I just know that it is right for me."

In England, it is against the law to pay for eggs or sperm. But Ms Adams said she would pay all medical and out-of-pocket expenses.

She has already acquired sperm from a donor in London, but said finding an appropriate egg donor had proved more difficult. "There might be a young woman who liked the idea of not being responsible for a child but would know their genes were being carried on in someone else," she said.

In America it is not uncommon for couples looking for donors to specify what height they want their donors to be or what colour hair or eyes they want them to have. In the late 1970s the American millionaire Robert Klark Graham set up a sperm bank in an underground bunker in California.

The Repository for Germinal Choice stored only the choicest sperm and, rather than wait for donors to come forward, Mr Klark Graham went out and looked for "genius" donors.

He reportedly convinced three Nobel Prize winners to donate their sperm. However, the only contributor to become known publicly was William Shockley, a Nobel laureate in physics.

Among the criticisms levelled at Mr Klark Graham was that he was a Nazi seeking to create a master race, but he claimed he simply wanted to take advantage of scientific possibilities.