Lori-An Etherington

Helping a PhD student with her experiment

Favourite Thing: My favourite thing to do in science is presenting my work at meetings or conferences



Ullswater Community College, Cumbria (1993-95); Lancaster Girls Grammar School (1995-97)


Degree in Pharmacology (1997-2001) and then a PhD in Pharmacology and Neuroscience (2001-2005), both from the University of Dundee

Work History:

Various student summer jobs including working in a shoe shop, a pub and McDonalds. I worked as a Research Assistant whilst writing up my PhD.


Centre for Neuroscience, University of Dundee

Current Job:

Post-doctoral research assistant

Me and my work

I test chemicals for a drug company which might be used as new medicines in the future

I work for the University of Dundee on a grant funded by a drug company based in Paris. New chemical structures are made at a site in Budapest and sent to me for initial testing. Many of the chemicals are thought to have memory enhancing properties and therefore I look at the effect of the chemicals in a laboratory model of learning and memory. If the chemical is successful in the model it then goes on to being examined in behavioural tests. Chemicals which promote learning and memory may be used in the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimers disease, which affects more than 400,000 people in the UK.

My Typical Day

Experiment preparation in the morning and experimenting in the afternoon, some journal reading and analysing results

I usually arrive in work between 9 – 9:30am and spend the first hour and a half preparing solutions and other material which I will need for my experiments. I have a coffee break around 11am and then read a couple of journals or do some analysis of my results from the previous day. About 12pm I start my experiment, each one takes an hour and a half to two hours so I do either 2 or 3 experiments a day. I have lunch about 12:30pm and another coffee break in the afternoon. On Thursday afternoons there is often a seminar at 4pm which is given by a visiting scientist which I attend if it is relevant to my work – or just sounds interesting to me. There are 5 other people who work in the same laboratory as myself – all working on different projects – so there is a lot of chatting (most of it not on science). Most days are quite similar but I enjoy being at work and it is really exciting when a new chemical works in the model of learning and memory.

What I'd do with the money

I would use the money towards creating hands on science projects which I could use in schools to help encourage children to enjoy and understand science

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Happy, honest, friendly

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Anything I can dance to

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I went on holiday to Disney World with my family. Our daughter was only 4 years old at the time and she believed all the characters and princesses were real which made it really fun

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

1. To have unlimited wishes, 2. For my family to be happy and healthy, 3. Win the Euromillions lottery

What did you want to be after you left school?

An archaeologist, beautician or doctor

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Present my research to members of parliament in the House of Commons

Tell us a joke.

Why are there no aspirins in the jungle? Because the Parrots-ate-em-all