Dr Lata Gautam

Faculty Race Equality Lead and Associate Professor in Forensic Science

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Analytical Chemistry , Forensic science and crime

Research Supervision:Yes

Lata has more than 24 years of experience in forensic and analytical chemistry, particularly in teaching and research on drugs of abuse analysis from different sample types (including spiked drinks and drug facilitated sexual assault investigation). Lately, she has also been researching on equitable representation and effective participation of diverse social groups in STEM especially race and ethnic minorities in the higher education and workplace settings. She is also Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

lata.gautam@aru.ac.uk

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Background

Lata obtained a PhD in Forensic Science in 2007 from Anglia Ruskin University. Before taking up her current position, she was engaged in postdoctoral research in the Environmental Sciences Research Centre under our Millennium European Climate project. She also holds an MSc and BSc from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She has worked in the Toxicology & Chemistry Unit and the Biology & Serology Unit at the National Forensic Science Laboratory, Nepal, where she analysed forensic case samples. She has been working in collaboration with different institutes and researchers from Botswana, India, Nepal, South Africa, Syria and United Kingdom.

Spoken Languages

English, Nepali and Hindi.

Research interests

Lata’s research interests lie in the chromatographic and mass spectrometric analysis of drugs of abuse and pharmaceutical compounds from human and animal hair; water and wastewater samples. In addition to these, she is also researching on analysis of seized street drugs, spiked beverages, food supplements, green tea and herbal medicines/ products.

Lately, she has focused her research activities on drink spiking and drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) investigation and increased awareness and recognition of such cases among different stakeholders. In this topic, she and her research group have been sharing knowledge to increase public awareness in different countries, including Belgium, Botswana, Canada, India, Nepal, Portugal, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America via different forums such as webinars, conferences, and workshops/ exhibition.

With her interest on race equality matters, she is also researching on enablers and barriers for B.A.ME students in STEM subjects, investigating sense of belonging and issues of recruitment and retention.

Areas of research supervision

Current supervision

  • Second supervisor for a PhD research based in University of Cape Town, who is developing and validating multi-drug analytical method for DFSA cases in Cape Town, South Africa (since May 2022, with Bronwen Davies)
  • First supervisor for a DProf research student who is studying Critical success factors of chemical processing industry (since September 2021)
  • First supervisor for a MPhil student, who is studying impurities associated with conversion of cannabidiol products into 9-THC (since September 2020)
  • First supervisor for a PhD student who is studying designer benzodiazepines (since September 2018)
  • Second supervisor for a MSc research student based in Botswana International University of Science and Technology, who is studying Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault – survey and stability studies (since September 2020, in collaboration with Dr Ellen Mwenesongole)
  • Second supervisor for a PhD student who is studying effectiveness of finger-mark development techniques from eco-friendly plastic bags (September 2020)
  • Second supervisor for a PhD student who is studying impurity profiling of heroin and statistical methods to the profiling process (since May 2019, research in collaboration with Cambridgeshire Constabulary, UK)
  • Second supervisor for a MPhil research student on geographic variation in Addar Venom Composition (since 2018)

Recently completed research degree supervisions

  • Interdisciplinary approach to obtaining drug use data: Analysis of wastewater using GC-MS and a survey (second supervisor)
  • The pattern and use of herbal medicine in Nigeria: identification of chemical constituents and epidemiological study (first supervisor)
  • The analysis of surface water, wastewater and sewage for illicit drugs (first supervisor)
  • The development of latent fingermarks on painted walls (first supervisor)
  • The impact of artificial sweeteners on VEGF induced permeability in glomerular microvascular endothelium (third supervisor)
  • A new adsorbent mixture for the collection of common ignitable liquid residue vapour (second supervisor)
  • Evaluation of the presence of drugs and pharmaceuticals in drinking water and their removal by drinking water treatment plants (second supervisor)
  • The detection of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in alternative non-invasive biological matrices, with emphasis on samples from endangered species (second supervisor)
  • What is the difference between Ecstasy and MDMA? (second supervisor)

Teaching

Undergraduate modules:

  • Chemical Criminalistics
  • Forensic Analytical Chemistry
  • Placement module
  • Undergraduate Major Project module

Postgraduate module: Mastering Forensic Analysis

She also supervises students in these MSc modules: Specialised topics for Forensic Scientists, Research Methods and Preparation and MSc dissertation.

Qualifications

  • PhD In Vitro Investigation of Amphetamine Binding to Natural and Synthetic Melanin, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (2007)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK (2009)
  • MSc Plant Science with specialisation in Plant Physiology, Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu, Nepal (1998)
  • BSc Chemistry, Plant Science and Microbiology, Tri Chandra College, TU (1996)

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of Forensic Capability Network Retention and Recruitment Subgroup, June 2022 onwards
  • Race and Ethnic Equality Network (REEN) Co-Lead from December 2021 onwards
  • Member, SE-REC (Faculty of Science and Engineering, Race Equality Committee), April 2021 onwards
  • Member, Faculty of Science and Engineering ATHENA SWAN committee Nov 2021– till date
  • Elected SENATE member (Dec 2020 – Dec 2022)
  • Member of Forensic Capability Network Physical Science Subgroup - Drugs and Toxicology, 2021
  • Co-convenor – International Conference by the Biotechnology Society of Nepal, February 2020
  • Advisor – Impact of Biotechnology in Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, April 2019
  • Scientific Committee Member - GCC Forensics Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, Oct 2018
  • Member of Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC), 2018 onwards
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), 2015 onwards
  • Life-time member of Biotechnology Society of Nepal (BSN), 2011 onwards
  • UK representative of the UNESCO Associated Schools Cooperation Council, Nepal, 2018 onwards
  • Member, Editorial Board of Forensic, Legal and Investigative Sciences
  • International Advisory Board of the Journal of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology
  • Member of the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT), 2004 onwards

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Research grants
  • Drinkware Charity funding for evidence-based research on drink spiking, 2022 (£89,130)
  • Royal Society of Chemistry, Inclusion and Diversity Grant, October 2020 as PI with Dr Nathalie Zahra (£4985.50)
  • Fattoria La Vialla, Investigating the impact of a natural antioxidant food product on exercise-induced oxidative stress in recreationally active participants, September 2020, as Co-I with Dr Justin Roberts (PI) and Dr Havovi Chichger.
  • Masters’ project research grants from Botswana International University of Science and Technology, June 2020 (Ms Lorato Makanye, Pula 30, 000 research topic – drug facilitated sexual assault) and February 2021 (Ms Molatelo Thutwa, Pula 29,800, research topic – drugs of abuse analysis from wastewater), with Dr Ellen Mwenesongole
  • Royal Society of Chemistry school engagement project 2017 (£2000) for Applying chemistry to solve crimes (PI).
  • Royal Society of Chemistry, Scientific meeting grant 2019 (£1500) towards conference organisation (PI).
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach Scholarship (Analytical Trust Fund) 2018 (£5000) - Capacity building on forensic toxicology and drugs chemistry in Nepal (PI).
  • Investigation into the detection and recovery of fragrances. Royal Society of Chemistry, Analytical Trust Fund for summer internship £1400, 2012 (stipend).
  • Accredited, bite sized learning to upskill chemical industry employees, funded by National HE STEM programme, £31950 (with High skills at work, ARU).
  • Research students related external funding from NRF, BMSS, RSC, BIUST total of £23,000.

Various internal findings secured (e.g. Postdoctoral Researcher for 16 months 2017/18) funded by QR funding, Wellbeing and community funding for two projects (2022); QR funding 2021, APP tactical funding (2021); Research funding observatory, 2018; Enterprising academics, 2015; Graduate teaching assistant, 2012; Research enhancement bid, 2008/9. Summer internships secured in 2022, 2015, 2011 and 2010. QR funding for impact case study support was secured in 2019 and 2020. Anglia Learning and Teaching project awards were received in 2021.

Consultancy
  • Consultancy with Legal Foods Limited in 2020, £9,800 (with Dr Havovi Chichger and Dr Justin Roberts).
  • Teaching chemical criminalistics in University of Linkoping (February 2015 - £2200 and February 2016 - £2739).
  • Consultancy for PCL Ceramics, King’s Lynn. Ceramic Water Filter for performance Testing, 2011, £5500 with Dr Sarah Hall.
  • Short Course on Drugs and Toxicology to a team from Kuwait (14th-18th February 2011) with colleagues.
Prizes
  • Felicitation by UNESCO associated schools cooperation council, 2018 for my work on Drugs Facilitated Sexual Assault topic in Nepal.
  • Second Best Poster Prize - Dawkins, L., Gautam, L., Bandey, H.L., and Ferguson, L. If only the walls could talk-can fingermarks provide the answers? 2nd International Conference by the European Division of the International Association of Human Identification, Interpol HQ, Lyon, France, 2016.
  • Third Poster Prize - Mansour, Y., Guy, G., and Gautam, L., Ketamine presumptive test as a new method in forensic analysis. FORREST Conference, 2013.
  • PVC Award - Mwenesongole, E., Gautam, L., Hall, S., and Emmett, T., Estimating community drug usage patterns by the analysis of wastewater. Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference, UK, 2011.
  • First Poster Prize - De Kat, D., and Gautam, L., The extraction and identification of GHB in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages using GC-MS. FORREST Conferences, 2010, UK.

Selected recent publications

  • Gautam, L., Grela, A., and Satyal, J., 2022. Sexual Assault through a Forensic Lens: Understanding Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Issues in Nepal. Annapurna Journal of Health Sciences. 2(2):37-43. https://www.ajhs.org.np/ajhs/index.php/ajhs/article/view/85
  • Gautam, L., Bohara, A., Satyal, J., Grela, A., 2021. Alcohol: Use, abuse and associated impacts on health and crimes. Annapurna Journal of Health Sciences. 1(2): 49–55. DOI: 10.52910/ajhs.45
  • Gautam, L., Puthussery-Rajasekharan, A., and Satyal, J., 2021. Boon or a bane? Oleander (Karavir) plant as a poison and Ayurvedic medicine. Central Ayurveda Hospital’s Annual Publication, Nepal
  • Gautam, L., 2021 Drink spiking: why so little is known about this horrifying tend. 28 October 2021. https://theconversation.com/drink-spiking-why-so-little-is-still-known-about-this-horrifying-trend-170421
  • Roberts, J.D., Willmott, A.G.B., Beasley, L., Boal, M., Davies, R., Martin, L., Chichger, H., Gautam, L., and Del Coso, J., 2021. The impact of decaffeinated green tea extract on fat oxidation, body composition and cardio-metabolic health in overweight, recreationally active individuals. Nutrients.13, 764. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030764
  • Shil, A., Davies, C., Gautam, L., Roberts, J., and Chichger, H., 2021. Investigating the opposing effect of two different green tea supplements on oxidative stress, mitochondrial function, and cell viability in HepG2 cells. Journal of Dietary Supplements. https://doi.org/10.1080/19390211.2021.1894304
  • Davies, C., Gautam, L., Grela, A., and Morrissey, J., 2020. Variability associated with interpreting drugs within forensic hair analysis: A three‐stage interpretation. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 40(7):868-888. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.3959
  • Aina, O., Gautam, L., Simkhada, P., and Hall, S., 2020. A Survey of Herbal Medicine Use and Non-utilization of Conventional Health Facilities in Ekiti State, Nigeria: Prevalence and Determinant, BMJ Open,10:e040769. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-040769.
  • Dawkins, J., Gautam, L., Bandey, H., Armitage, R., and Ferguson, L., 2020. The effect of paint type on the development of latent finger-marks on walls. Forensic Science International, 309:110186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint. 2020.110186
  • Peng, Y., Gautam, L and Hall, S., 2019. The detection of drugs of abuse and pharmaceuticals in drinking water using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Chemosphere, 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.02.040

Recent presentations and conferences

  • Gautam, L., 2022. Forensic science for safer tomorrow. Certificate Course in Forensic Science organised by the Department of Chemistry, Kirori Mai College, University of Delhi and Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, AIIMS, Delhi (keynote presentation)
  • Gautam, L., 2022. Current trends in forensic science teaching and research. Annual Research Symposium, organised by Nexus Institute for Research and Innovation (invited presentation)
  • Davies, C., Grela., A., Morrissey., J., Gautam, L., 2022. Diclazepam and interpreting its metabolites. London Toxicology Group
  • Gautam, L., 2022. Drink spiking – Gaps in reporting and conviction. European Academy of Forensic Science (EAFS) Conference, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Dawkins, J., Gautam, L., Bandey, H., and Ferguson, L., 2022. EAFS Conference, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Ratshonka, S., Cole, M.D., Gautam, L., and Ferguson, L., 2022. A critical evaluation of statistical methods used in heroin comparison. EAFS Conference, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Davies, C., Grela., A., Morrissey., J., Gautam, L., 2022. Diclazepam metabolite interpretation. EAFS Conference, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Davies, C., Grela., A., Morrissey., J., Gautam, L., 2022. Quantification of diclazepam and its metabolites using GC-MS for chemometric purposes. Flow Analysis XV, Faculty of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
  • Gautam, L., 2022. Regulation of precursor chemicals in Nepal. Nepal Police Detective Training School, Nepal (invited presentation)
  • Makanye, L. Mwenesongole, M., Gautam, L., and Masamba, W., 2022 Interdisciplinary approach to analysis of drugs of abuse in wastewater using a survey and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. TIAFT Virtual Meeting
  • Thutwa, M., Mwenesongole, M., Gautam, L., and Oftentse, M., 2022. Drug facilitated sexual assault in Botswana: Review, survey and stability studies. TIAFT Virtual Meeting
  • Davies, C., Grela, A., Morrissey, J., and Gautam, L.,2021. The interpretation of hair evidence for drug facilitated sexual assault crimes. ICBSN conference, Nepal
  • Grela, A., Satyal, J., Ciobanu, S., and Gautam, L., 2021. Knowledge, perception and experience of drug facilitated sexual assault among college students – comparison of Nepal and UK data. ICBSN conference, Nepal
  • Gautam, L., 2021. Forensic analysis of street drugs. The faculty development programme organised by Amity Institute of Forensic Sciences, Amity University, India (invited presentation)
  • Satyal, P., and Gautam, L., 2021. Joint presentation on developing and running a research project: concept design to impact evaluation. Research Management Training organised by Haryana University (CCS HAU), India (invited presentation)
  • Gautam, L., Davies, C., and Grela, A., 2020. Drinks spiking, myths, truths and advances in Forensic Science. Cambridge Science Festival, Cambridge, UK (public event)
  • Gautam, L., 2020. Nature and pattern of drug facilitated sexual assault cases in Nepal, Janta multiple Campus and Jaycees
  • Gautam, L., 2020. Spiking of drinks and drug facilitated sexual assault, organised by Botswana International University of Science and Technology (invited presentation)
  • Gautam, L., 2020. Drink spiking and drug facilitated sexual assault, Amity University, India as part of one day international conference on the Role of Forensic Science and Law in Safety of Women & Children (A dialogue dedicated to the Mission Shakti: An initiative of U.P. Government, India), invited presentation
  • Gautam, L., 2020. Raising awareness about drink spiking and drug facilitated sexual assault, organised by the European Division of international association for identification (EUIAI)
  • Gautam, L., Sullivan, A.B., and Aina, J., 2020. Are herbal medicines and products safe for consumption? Organised by ARU Discover (public event)
  • Gautam, L., 2020. Exploring knowledge and perception about drug facilitated sexual assaults, Annual Forensic Science Conference, University of West London (keynote presentation)
  • Grela, A., and Gautam, L. Drugs in drugs facilitated sexual assault. Second International Caparica Translational Forensics Conference, Portugal
  • Gautam, L., 2019. Investigating knowledge, perception and experience about drug facilitated sexual assault. United Kingdom and Ireland Association of Forensic Toxicologists (UKIAFT) Meeting, ARU, Cambridge, UK
  • Gautam L., 2019. Making an impact that matters: research and public engagement on drug facilitated sexual assault investigation in Nepal. World DNA Day Conference, Biotechnology Society of Nepal
  • Gautam, L., Grela, A., Satyal, J., and Gajuryal, S., 2019. Understanding the nature of sexual assault cases with the focus on Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault in Nepal through a forensic lens. Social Science Baha international conference, Nepal

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