Dr Lata Gautam

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

Department:School of Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

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.

Research interests

  • Detection of drugs in alternative matrices (hair, nails and feathers)
  • Drugs synthesis and profiling (eg piperazines and cathinones)
  • Drug-facilitated sexual assault-related research (GHB, ketamine, flunitrazepam, diazepam, etc in spiked beverages)
  • Shoe polish, lip stick and perfume analysis
  • Detection of drugs in wastewater and surface water
  • Analysis of street drugs
  • Presumptive testing methods for drugs of abuse
  • Resource efficiency and sustainability in analytical and forensic science

Areas of research supervision

  • Director of Studies: Jo Dawkins, research project: The development of latent and patent fingerprints on walls at major crime scenes
  • Director of Studies: Ebiye Adipere, The analysis of ketamine and its metabolites using sustainable approach
  • Director of Studies: Ellen Mwenesongole, research project: The analysis of surface water, waste water and sewage for illicit drugs. Recipient of National Research Foundation (NRF) scholarships 2012 and 2013
  • Supervisor: Garry White, research project: The forensic application of adsorbents for fire investigation work
  • Supervisor: Alexandra Turner, research project: Irresistible 'E'
  • Supervisor: Alix Greeves (GTA), research project: The detection of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in alternative non-invasive biological matrices, with emphasis on samples from endangered species
  • Supervisor: Peng Yang, research project: Detection of chemicals, drugs and pharmaceutical in waste water


BSc (Hons) Forensic Science
BSc (Hons) Crime and Investigative Studies
MSc Forensic Science


  • PhD In Vitro Investigation of Amphetamine Binding to Natural and Synthetic Melanin, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  • MSc Plant Science with specialisation in Plant Physiology, Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  • BSc Chemistry, Plant Science and Microbiology, Tri Chandra College, TU
  • ISc Chemistry, Physics, Botany, Zoology, Mathematics, Padma Kanya College, TU, Nepal

Memberships, editorial boards

  • The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT)
  • Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT), 2003–2009
  • Society of Hair Testing (SoHT)
  • Hair Research Society of India, Chennai, India
  • National Forensic Society, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy 

Selected recent publications

Turner, A., Gautam, L., Moore, C. and Cole, M., 2014. Investigating the Terminology used to Describe Ecstasy. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 14, pp.235-244, http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/DAT-07-2014-0029.

Richards, N., Hall, S., Harrison, N., Gautam, L., Scott, K., Dowling, G., Zorilla, I. and 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). http://dx.doi.org/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. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089031.

Kuleya, C., Cole, M., Hall, S. and 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.

Mewnesongole, E., Gautam, L.,Hall, H., Waterhouse, J. and 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. and 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. and Cole. M.D., 2013. Hair Analysis in Forensic Toxicology. Forensic Magazine, online publication: http://www.forensicmag.com/articles/2013/09/hair-analysis-forensic-toxicology, 3 September 2013.

Gautam, L., Pathak, R., Danlami, S. H. and Cole M.D., 2013. Entomotoxicolgy: Alternative Matrices for Forensic Toxicology. Forensic Magazine, online publication: http://www.forensicmag.com/articles/2013/08/entomotoxicology-alternative-matrices-forensic-toxicology, 6 August 2013. 

Gautam, L., Newland, C. and 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. and Cole, M.D., 2013. Drink Speaks the Truth: Forensic Investigation of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults. Forensic Magazine, online publication: http://www.forensicmag.com/articles/2013/06/drink-speaks-truth-forensic-investigation-drug-facilitated-sexual-assaults, 20 June 2013. 

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

Vaughan, B.R., Gautam, L. and 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. 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, Forenisc 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.