Dr Lata Gautam

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Analytical Chemistry , Forensic science and crime

Research Supervision:Yes

Lata’s expertise lies in drugs and pharmaceutical analysis from different matrices using chromatography and mass spectrometry. She supervises research in forensic toxicology, environmental toxicology and drugs analysis.



Lata obtained a PhD in Forensic Science in 2007 from Anglia Ruskin University. Before taking up her current position, Lata 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.

Lata’s areas of expertise and interest lie in drug binding to hair components (melanin, keratin), drug analysis of biological samples (blood, urine) and alternative matrices (hair, nail, saliva). She is interested in research work involving chromatographic, spectrometric and spectroscopic techniques.

Spoken Languages

English, Nepali and Hindi.

Research interests

  • Drug-facilitated sexual assault - method development and public awareness
  • Detection of drugs from alternative matrices (spiked drinks, hair, water etc.)
  • Drugs synthesis and profiling
  • Drugs presumptive testing methods development

Lata is a member of our Forensic & Investigative Sciences Research Group.

Areas of research supervision

  • The detection of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in alternative non-invasive biological matrices, with emphasis on samples from endangered species
  • The analysis of surface water, waste water and sewage for illicit drugs
  • Evaluation of the presence of drugs and pharmaceuticals in drinking water and their removal by drinking water treatment plants
  • Organic chemical characterisation and inorganic impurity profiling of selected street piperazines
  • The pattern and use of herbal medicine in Nigeria: identification of chemical constituents and epidemiological study
  • What is the difference between Ecstasy and MDMA?
  • Method development and validation for the simultaneous detection of designer benzodiazepines in human hair using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry

Lata would be pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD researchers. Find out more about our Forensic & Investigative Sciences PhD including our exciting PhD project opportunities.


BSc (Hons) Forensic Science

  • Module Leader for Chemical Criminalistics
  • Module Leader for Undergraduate Major Project
  • Module Leader for Placement Module
  • Contributes to Forensic Analytical Chemistry
  • Contributes to The Analysis of Drugs and Poisons
  • Contributes to Advanced Forensic Methodologies
  • Contributes to Project Preparation

BSc (Hons) Crime and Investigative Studies

  • Module Leader for Undergraduate Major Project
  • Contributes to Project Preparation supervision

MSc Forensic Science

  • Module Leader for Mastering Forensic Analysis
  • Contributes to Research Methods and Preparation
  • Contributes to Specialised Topics in Forensic Science Contributes to MSc Research Project


  • 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 Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)
  • Member of the International Association of Forensic Toxicologists
  • Life-time member of Biotechnology Society of Nepal
  • UK representative of the UNESCO Associated Schools Cooperation Council, Nepal
  • Member, Editorial Board of Forensic, Legal and Investigative Sciences
  • International Advisory Board of the Journal of Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Research grants

Royal Society of Chemistry school engagement project 2017 (£2000) for Applying chemistry to solve crimes.

Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach Scholarship (Analytical Trust Fund) 2018 (£5000) - Capacity building on forensic toxicology and drugs chemistry in Nepal.

RFO (Research Funding Observatory, ARU) 2018 (£1000) – workshop in Nepal for public awareness about drug facilitated sexual assault.

Enterprising academics funding from RDCS, ARU (£5000) and match funding from faculty in 2014 for a pilot study in buffaloes welfare in Nepal.

Investigation into the detection and recovery of fragrances. Royal Society of Chemistry, Analytical Trust Fund for summer internship £1400, 2012.

Accredited, bite sized learning to upskill chemical industry employees, funded by National HE STEM programme, £31950 (with High skills at work, ARU).


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.

Short Course on Drugs and Toxicology to a team from Kuwait (14th-18th February 2011).


Second Best Poster Prize - Dawkins, L., Gautam, L., Bandey, H.L. and Ferguson, L., 2016. 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., 2013. Ketamine presumptive test as a new method in forensic analysis. FORREST Conference, 2013.

PVC Award - Mwenesongole, E., Gautam, L., Hall, S. and Emmett, T., 2011. 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., 2010. The extraction and identification of GHB in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages using GC-MS. FORREST Conferences, 2010, UK.

Selected recent publications

Grela, A., Gautam, L., Cole M. D., 2018. A Multifactorial Critical Appraisal of Substances Found in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault cases. Forensic Science International, 292, pp. 50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2018.08.034

Cole, M. D., Grela, A., Gautam, L., 2018. Xanax: How Does it Work and What are the Side Effects? The Conversation.

Peng, Y., Hall, S., Gautam, L., 2016. Drugs of Abuse in Drinking Water – A Review of Current Detection Methods, Occurrence, Elimination and Health Risks. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 85 (C), pp. 232-240. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2016.09.011

White, G., Hall, G., Gautam, L., 2016. The Development of a Novel Adsorbent for Collecting Ignitable Liquid Residues from a Fire Scene. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 122, pp. 304-314. An Insight into Legal Highs: Pattern of Abuse and Implications. Narcotics Control Bureau Magazine, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Turner, A., Gautam, L., Moore, C., Cole, M., 2014. Investigating the Terminology used to Describe Ecstasy. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 14, pp. 235-244, doi: 10.1108/DAT-07-2014-002

Richards, N., Hall, S., Harrison, N., Gautam, L., Scott, K., Dowling, G., Zorilla, I., Fajardo, I., 2014. Merging Wildlife Monitoring Approaches and Forensic Principles: Application of Unconventional and Non-invasive Sampling in Eco-Pharmacovigilance. Journal of Forensic Research, 5(3). doi: 10.4172/2157-7145.1000228

Gautam L., Sharratt, S. D. and Cole, M. D., 2014. Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault: Detection and Stability of Benzodiazepines in Spiked Drinks. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089031

Kuleya, C., Cole, M., Hall, S., Gautam, L., 2014. An Optimised Gas Chromatographic and Mass Spectrometric Method for the Chemical Characterisation of Benzylpiperazine and 1-Arypiperazine Based Drugs. Analytical Methods, 6, pp. 156-163. doi: 10.1039/C3AY41020J

Mwnesongole, E., Gautam, L., Hall, H., Waterhouse, J., Cole, M. D., 2013. Simultaneous Detection of Controlled Substances in Wastewater. Analytical Methods, 5, pp. 3248-3254. doi: 10.1039/C3AY40655E

Waterhouse, J. S., Cheng, S., Julka, D., Loader, N., Mccarroll, D., Switsur, V. R., Gautam, L., 2013. Position-Specific Measurement of Oxygen Isotope Ratios: Isotopic Exchange during Heterotrophic Cellulose. Synthesis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 112, pp. 178-191.

Gautam, L., Shanmuganathan, A., and Cole M. D., 2013. Forensic Analysis of Cathinones. Forensic Science Review, 25(1/2), pp. 47-64.

Gautam, L., Cole. M. D., 2013. Hair Analysis in Forensic Toxicology. Forensic Magazine, online publication, 3 September.

Gautam, L., Pathak, R., Danlami, S. H., Cole M. D., 2013. Entomotoxicolgy: Alternative Matrices for Forensic Toxicology. Forensic Magazine, online publication, 6 August.

Gautam, L., Newland, C., Cole, M. D., 2013. Drugs from Unusual Matrices: Using Bone Tissue as a Forensic Toxicology Specimen. Forensic Magazine, online publication, 3 July 2013.

Gautam, L., Cole, M. D., 2013. Drink Speaks the Truth: Forensic Investigation of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults. Forensic Magazine, online publication, 20 June.

Mwenesongole, E., Gautam, L., Hall, S., Emmett, T., 2012. Estimating Community Drug Usage Patterns by the Analysis of Waste Water. SPARC 2011 proceedings. ISBN: 978 1-4717-0493-2

Vaughan, B. R., Gautam, L., Cole, M. D., 2010. Cell Based Assays for In Vitro Drug Toxicity Screening. TIAFT Bulletin, 40(2), pp. 14-18.

Recent presentations and conferences

Gautam, L., Grela, A., and Cole, M.D., 2018. Simultaneous Detection of Drugs Associated with Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Using Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry. The International Association of Forensic Toxicologist conference, Ghent, Belgium.

Gautam, L., 2018. Raising Awareness about Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. A talk programme organised by the UNESCO Associated Schools Cooperation Council, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Gautam, L., 2018. Unique challenge: Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. 16th Bigyan Chautari organised by Annapurna Research Centre Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Marshall, S., Tomova. B, Gautam, L., 2018. Method Optimisation for the Simultaneous Detection of Extractables and Leachables by GC-MS. Emerging Analytical Professionals Conference organised Royal Society of Chemistry, Knutsford. UK.

Facey, E., Tomova. B, Gautam, L., 2018. Forceful Degradation of Polymer Additives Analysed by GC-MS and HPLC-DAD. Emerging Analytical Professionals Conference organised Royal Society of Chemistry, Knutsford, UK.

Gautam, L. and Pathak, R. 2017. Usefulness of hair analysis in Forensic Science. 20th HairS’ conference, 7th September 2017, Dresden, Germany.

Gautam, L., 2017. Importance of Alternative Sample Analysis in Forensic Investigation of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. First International Forensic Conference, Kuwait.

Peng, Y., Hall, S and Gautam, L., 2016. Detection of Drugs of Abuse and Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water. Environmental Pollution and Public Health conference, China.

Hall, S., Gautam, L., and White, G., 2015. A Novel Adsorbent for the Recovery and Positive Identification of Ignitable Liquids Using GC-MS-ATD. EuroAnalysis, Bordeaux, France.

Gautam, L., and Popilec, K., 2015. Gas Chromatographic - Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Desomorphine, Heroin, Codeine, Desocodeine and Morphine. EuroAnalysis, Bordeaux, France.

Gautam, L., Spiked Beverage Analysis in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults. UKIAFT meeting, 2015, LGC Teddington, UK.

Gautam, L. and Satyal, P., 2013. Resource Sustainability in Analytical Chemistry: The Case of Forensic Toxicology, EuroANALYSIS, 28 August 2013, Warsaw, Poland.

Mwenesongole, E., Gautam, L., Hall, S. and Waterhouse, J., 2013. The Detection of Emerging Drugs of Abuse in Wastewater using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. EuroANALYSIS, 27 August 2013. 

White, G., Hall, G. and Gautam, L., 2012. Improvements to Sampling and Instrumentation for Fire Debris Analysis Using Tenax TA® and ATD-GC-MS. European Association of Forensic Science (EAFS) Conference, The Hague, Netherlands.

Akmoutsou, P. Pathak, R. and Gautam, L., 2012. Detection of Paracetamol in the Blowfly Calliphora vomitoria and Effects on its Growth Rate. Indian Association of Medico-Legal Experts: Internal Conference on Current Trends in Forensic Sciences, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (IAMLE) Conference, Jaipur, India.

Gautam, L. and Sharratt, S., 2012. Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Benzodiazepines in Spiked Drinks under Different Storage Conditions. The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) Conference, San Francisco, USA.

Gautam, L., Vaughan, B. and Cole, M., 2011. Investigation into the Stability and Storage Conditions for Benzylpiperazine (BZP) for Chemical Impurity Profiling. American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) Conference, Chicago, USA. 

Vaughan, B., Gautam, L. and Cole, M., 2011. An Investigation into the Cellular Cytotoxicity of Benzylpiperazine (BZP) and its Derivatives. AAFS Conference, Chicago, USA.

Media experience

July 2018, several media outlets including BBC News Nepali Service and News 24 Nepal about drugs facilitated sexual assault cases in Nepal.

January 2018, several media outlets including ABC TV, Our Health Programme, Kantipur Saptahik, and Nepal Live for public awareness about drug facilitated sexual assault cases and sample types that should be analysed by forensic science laboratories.

December 2017, Understanding Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Sunday Guardian Live, India