Dr Lisa Smith


Tel: +44 (0)114 222 4702

Email: lisa.m.smith@sheffield.ac.uk

Room C34a, Alfred Denny Building

Lab website: https://sites.google.com/sheffield.ac.uk/smith-lab


Lecturer, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK (2013-present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany (2007-2013)

PhD Student, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK (2002-2006)

BSc (Hons), The University of Queensland, Australia (1998-2001)

Key Research Interests

The lab is primarily focused on plant development. We are particularly interested in the contribution of a group of receptor-like kinases to plant development and their regulation by environmental signals. The malectin domain receptor-like kinases detect signals coming either from other plant cells or from the surrounding environment. Their functions help the cell and plant develop appropriately according to the wider environment. This research is now focussed on the function of malectin domain receptor-like kinases in fertilisation. 

Another line of research in the Smith lab examines the developmental roles of malectin domain kinesins. Kinesins are motor proteins that can move around the cell using the cytoskeleton. The kinesins are particularly important in plant cell division where they can restructure the cytoskeleton and shift organelles.  

We aim to understand the function of malectin domain kinesins in plant development and cell division. This work is funded by The Leverhulme Trust. We also collaborate with Andrew Fleming’s group on rice leaf development and potato sprout inhibitors, and with Julie Gray’s group on stomatal function.

I remain interested in diverse areas of plant molecular biology such as natural variation, epigenetics and transposable elements. Together with Jurriaan Ton’s lab and external collaborators, I am studying the long-term effects of biotic stress on heritable variations. A further collaboration with independent research fellow Stuart Campbell is focused on the effect of transitions from outcrossing to selfing in plants.

Research Group

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Vanessa de Sousa Vieira: A plant-specific motor during cell division and seed development (funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant with Dr Christian Voigt as CoPI)

PhD Students

Naomi Cox: Engineering the rice leaf for improved photosynthesis (White Rose BBSRC iCASE studentship with IRRI: co-supervised by Prof. Andrew Fleming in APS and Prof. Paul Quick at IRRI)

Thomas Grand: The mechanism of cell cycle repression by sprouting inhibitors (White Rose BBSRC iCASE studentship with AHDB: co-supervised with Prof. Andrew Fleming)

Emily Harrison: Combatting climate change by engineering crop water loss (White Rose BBSRC iCASE studentship with Biogemma: primary supervisor Prof. Julie Gray in MBB)

Research Technician

Dr Pedro Carteado Ferreira Da Rocha: Development of a novel plant breeding technology (University of Sheffield IIKE funding with Prof. Jurriaan Ton and Dr Stephen Rolfe)


I currently teach on the following modules:

APS137 Plant Physiology, Reproduction and Development

APS138 Molecular and Cellular Biology

APS216 Plant, Cell and Environment

APS31005 Applied Molecular Biology

APS355 Future Plants

I coordinate our Masters of Research courses together with Dr Steve Rolfe, and am admissions tutor for selected PGT programmes.