Alison Dunne

Scientist and Engineer

A colour photograph of a woman wearing a navy zip-up fleece and an orange hard-hat, standing in front of the Large Hadron Collider. She is leaning against the fence of a high walkway, which consists of a metal frame and is painted bright green. Behind her, the collider is mostly silver metal, full of complex wiring and panels. There is a big circular panel on the wall, attached to the start of a large, horizontal, cyndrical object, also silver.

Photo of Alison taken at the CMS experiment at CERN in Geneva (All images kindly provided by Alison Dunne).

  • BORN 1968, Glasgow, Scotland
  • WORKED National Semiconductor Ltd, Greenock; James Watt College, Greenock; West College Scotland Greenock
  • HONOURS Honours Degree in Chemistry from University of Glasgow; Teaching Qualification in Further Education from University of Aberdeen
  • MINERVA SCIENTIFICA PROJECT Echoes from Inverclyde

Artistic Connections

I became involved when Frances approached the Head of the Science department to see if we were interested in supporting the project. While I am interested in arts and crafts I am certainly not musical so this was an unusual opportunity to connect with local schools on a very different way than ever before.


Scientists: LOUISE LARKIN, Alison Dunne, Sandra Spence
Composed by: Frances M Lynch & All Saints Primary 6A&B
Written in: Jan – March 2019
For: A cappella voices
Performed by: All Saints Primary P6
First Performed: Beacon Arts Centre, March 8th, 2019 as part of Echoes from Inverclyde by electric voice theatre

I liked best writing  “I want to be an engineer” and performing it to the school

Lyrics by Frances M Lynch:

I want to be an engineer
I’ll have a fabulous career
Building bridges, ships and aeroplanes,
Toasters, bikes and video games
Explosives, drains, bionic limbs,
Controlling pollution, recycling inventions
Lipsticks in outer space!


I attended Greenwood Academy secondary school in Irvine, and my interest in Science was sparked by my Chemistry teacher. This led to me studying this science up to Honours Degree level at University, with no real idea of what I could do at the end of it!  I just knew I really liked the subject area.

After working in industry, I moved into lecturing at college where I also completed my teaching qualification.

Important Visitors – Alison Dunne, Sandra Spence and Louise Larkin visit All Saints Primary School, Greenock (Photo by Frances M Lynch)


Shop worker
I had various Saturday jobs from age 15 until I achieved full time employment. We all need money for the extras in life.

Process Engineer
My first job on leaving university. I worked in an electronics factory where I was responsible for ensuring electronic chips were produced to customer requirements. This progressed to involve project management for new equipment, expansions and new customers and resulted in a managerial role. Although in an engineering role, it did involve using my Science and problem-solving knowledge as chemicals are a large part of the manufacturing process. I was also the trainer for new Engineers and frequently did talks on Women Into Engineering at local and national level. This job also gave me opportunities to work abroad at sister plants on two occasions – San Francisco and in Malaysia

College Lecturer
Having realised that training others was something I liked to do I eventually moved into teaching at James Watt College, working for both the Science and Engineering Departments. I currently teach Chemistry, Maths and some Engineering subjects and I have no intention of leaving this great job! I have regular opportunities to meet with employers and young people to help them identify the pathway for them to achieve their goals, and to encourage young people into studying for STEM subjects and explain some of the possibilities they may not have realised were available.

Scientific Achievements

  • While working in the college I was given an amazing opportunity to attend a Physics training course at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva. This is the ultimate collaboration of Engineering and Science and I have been inside it and the anti-matter factory. Few people ever get to see this so it was a huge privilege to be allowed. 8000 people work there and the streets are named after all the famous scientists! CERN are a non profit organisation who freely distribute their Science findings for the good of planet. They are the original inventors of the World Wide Web, touch screens and proton beam therapy to name but a few.
  • I have also been a judge at Young Engineer of the Year in Scotland and a judge at a competition to create an experiment to be trialled on the International Space Station (ISS) where I met a real astronaut who had lived there, twice. The imagination of young people never fails to astound me with its creation.
  • I have a daily opportunity to show what is possible to the next generations and feel that if I can enthuse young people into pursuing a career in a STEM subject then it is time well spent.
Did You Know?

I broke my arm age 39 taking ice-skating lessons and doing my Torvill and Dean impersonation. I get reminded of this at every available opportunity!

An Inspiring Woman

My Chemistry teacher in secondary school, Ursula Hallam, is entirely responsible for me being where and what I am now. I wasn’t special, but I had an enthusiastic teacher who encouraged me to study what I was interested in – something I still do today and try to pass on to my students and apprentices.