Professor Lorna Dougan


Lorna is a physicist by training, MPhys and PhD at University of Edinburgh. In 2020 she was awarded the Water Woman award for Research Excellence. In 2018 she was awarded the British Biophysical Society Young Investigator Medal for her research on the physics of living systems, including single molecule manipulation, life in extreme environments and the physics of cryopreservation. She was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry MacroGroup UK Young Researchers Medal in 2013 and the Medical Research Council and Royal Society Suffrage Science Award in 2015.

Lorna currently leads an Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship to explore Multiscale biomechanics, and previously led a European Research Council Fellowship in Extreme Biophysics. Lorna’s current research interests span hierarchical biomechanics, extreme biophysics, liquid structure, life in extreme environments and (bottom-up) synthetic biology. She is passionate about science communication and active in arts-science collaborative opportunities, and currently leads a EPSRC public engagement champion grant.


  • Director of Research and Innovation
  • Executive Committee Astbury Centre Structural Molecular Biology
  • Bragg Centre Creative Labs Academic Lead

Research interests

We are a multidisciplinary research group based in the School of Physics and Astronomy and motivated to understand the physics of life. We are developing tools to explore multiscale scale mechanics, single molecule manipulation techniques and neutron scattering to explore the physics of living systems. These powerful techniques are used to study hierarchical biomechanics, self-assembly and the structure and dynamics of molecules in aqueous solutions, in both simple and complex systems. We are members of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and the Bragg Centre for Materials Research. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the EPSRCBBSRC and ERC.


I currently lead an EPSRC public engagement champion grant which aims to explore creativity in STEM. You can read about one of our projects here:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Institute of Physics

Research groups and institutes

  • Molecular and Nanoscale Physics

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//">Painting living matrices: developing tools for spatio-temporal patterning of biomaterials</a></li>