Fiona Kerr

Lecturer in Molecular Pharmacology
Edinburgh Napier University

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m a Mum of two walking the work-life tight-rope. I spend lots of my spare time drawing, baking and reading stories!

Tell us about your career journey so far, from school to now.

At school my favourite subjects were art & languages, but I was curious to ask questions and enjoyed the challenge of science subjects like physics & chemistry. At the University of Glasgow I studied Pharmacology, how drugs work in the body, and learned that scientists need to be creative, as well as robust, in designing research questions, deciding which methods to use and communicating their work. During my degree I was fascinated by neuroscience and how we make memories. But I also wanted to make a difference and play a part in developing drugs to benefit human health. So I did a PhD in Neuroscience at Kings College London which introduced me to Alzheimer’s disease, the main form of dementia and the field in which I have continued to do research as a post-doctoral researcher and now as a lecturer.

What is your job and what is your favourite thing about it?

As a lecturer, I teach molecular biology and pharmacology at university but I also still do research into dementia. This means my job is very varied from designing slides, teaching students, reading about new research, doing experiments in the lab, analysing data, writing papers for publication and developing activities for public engagement! I really enjoy being able to have an idea then designing an experiment to test it out in the lab– it’s amazing to see a new result for the first time and, for a short while, you’re the only person in the world who knows about it.

 Are there any women who especially inspired you to go into your career?

My Mum studied maths at university and was a computer programmer for Rolls Royce in the 1970’s. She died when I was 6 from melanoma, so didn’t get the chance to fulfill her career in STEM. I always thought she must have been amazing to pave the way as one of few women in her workplace. My passion for science, motivation to find cures for diseases and determination to balance my time between my job and the family I love is inspired by her.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

If you would like to learn more about the ways in which researchers study dementia, including some of the models that I use in my work like nerve cells in a dish and fruit flies, check out this beautiful colouring booklet by artist Hana Ayoob as part of the Visualising Dementia Research Project.

Visualising Dementia Research

This page is part of our#BreakTheBias blog series for International Women’s Day 2022. We’re sharing the career stories of some of our incredible women YAS members. We hope this will give a snapshot of the wide variety of jobs that women work in today, and inspire girls & young women into careers that they may not yet have considered. To illustrate part of their job, each member has also suggested a fun activity for you to try at home!

To see more snapshots of YAS members, please return to our main International Women’s Day Gallery.
Return to gallery