Sian Lawson

Favourite Thing: Sor far there’s been a lot to like: Polar bear filming, working on Hollywood films, assessing the British rowing team – in lycra! – conferences on five continents, watching my own PhD students gain the title Dr for themselves….. Right now, it’s leading a team. I’m so very proud of every member and the atmosphere that we’ve created.



Awali primary, Hordle House, Wentworth Milton Mount


UCL Maths (1995), University of Bristol BSc Anatomical Science (’96-’99), University of Oxford PhD Orthopaedic Engineering (’99-’02)

Work History:

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, St George’s Hospital Medical School, Visual Effects Consultancy, Ecole Nationale Veterinaire d’Alfort Paris


Newcastle University

Current Job:

William Leech Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering

Me and my work

Studying the musculo-skeletal system (muscle, bones, tendons and ligaments) by examining how people and animals move: Biomechanics.

I lead a research group which examines how our movement affects our bone and tissue structure, and how this then affects our movement. Our research applies to sports but also helps us to understand ageing, injury and pathology and is used in a range of things including performance optimisation, clinical assessment and visual effects.

My Typical Day

I’m based in a University but I also consult in the film industry and forensics.

Most often I walk into work or catch a lift and once there I’ll normally stop into the lab to chat to the post-grads (doctoral students) in my group and catch up with what they’re doing before settling into my own office for emailing, and computer based work. I may be lecturing for an hour or meeting with students during the day, and generally there’s a lot of meetings and travelling. If we’re filming off-site then it can also be all hands on deck to move kit!

What I'd do with the money

Take a group of school students on a tour of a special effects studio and our own labs; to learn about what engineering can involve.

I’d really like to take some current school students that may not have realised the sorts of options that could be open to them, and show them the aspects of science and engineering that they may not have thought of, and how our research applies even in this industry.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Really, really short …although my Facebook friends settled on “Magic Horse Scientist”!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I get teased a lot for liking American rock (Pink, Nirvana, Blondie), but equally embarrassing is my taste in pop (Lady Gaga, Lily Allen).

What is the most fun thing you've done?

That’s hard. Living in Paris, with my young family, was pretty cool.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

An Oscar, an Olympic Gold Medal and a Nobel prize. Who wouldn’t want an Olympic gold? – That never goes away.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Rich and thin.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

All the time!

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Genuinely, so far I’ve had a blast. I couldn’t confidently pick one thing but possibly filming Troy, becasue it was my first big budget film and such a great bunch of people pulling together.

Tell us a joke.

How many mules does it take to change a lightbulb? One to hold the bulb, and 305 to rotate the house.