Liz Coates

L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre Technical Coordinator

  • Sean Thurston and Liz Coates

    Sean Thurston and Liz Coates

    Credit: Royal Institution

Role

The Technical Coordinator is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of the L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre laboratory. These days I spend most of my time leading workshops, but the role is many and varied and includes the development of new workshops, liaising with schools and together with the other team members the general day to day running of the laboratory.

About

Following a Degree in Biochemistry and a year in industry working at GlaxoSmithKline, I did a PhD in Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry. I came to Ri in 2009 so was fortunate enough to be here right from the start of the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre, in fact my first job was to equip the lab (at that point a room with not even a proper floor!) – A slightly daunting task!

Scientific inspiration

As a child I was always exploring. Recently I found a notebook I had written in when I was 7, in it was an entry; “ Today I found a box in the electric fence with a blue flame coming out, it burns grass but it don’t burn dandelions….I think this is strange, do YOU????”

Obviously I missed my calling as some kind of scientific detective but I continued to ask questions (probably a bit too much if you ask my teachers!). 

I won’t say I always thought I’d be a scientist at school; in fact I fell into it quite by chance having biochemistry suggested to me as a last minute choice for a work experience placement by a more learned friend. I had never heard of it but it sounded like a cross between biology and chemistry so I scribbled it down as the teacher collected the forms.

That spontaneous decision landed me in lab for a week and I discovered how fun it was actually doing science. That’s why I love the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre; I know the difference that even just one experience can make. Attitudes can change in the course of a day and that’s really rewarding.

Favourite experiment

Although I love all the whizz bang demos that go on at the Ri, my favourite experiment actually has to be our ‘A question of taste’ workshop. It’s great to get really in depth and especially to see the reaction when the bands light up at the end and the students can analyse their own DNA.

Best thing about the Ri

For me the best thing about the Ri is the people. Everyone here really believes in the Ri and what we do. I love the spontaneous science discussions that go on in the office, or an impromptu experiment. It’s a really dynamic place to work and it’s great to be able to pass on a bit of that passion and excitement for science to those that come to visit us.

About the L'Oréal Young Scientist Centre