Dr Lisa Smith

School of Biosciences


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+44 114 222 4702

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Dr Lisa Smith
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN
  • Lecturer, School of Biosciences, 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)
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.


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Conference proceedings papers

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

  • 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)
Teaching activities

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
  • APS6617 Scientific Skills and Project Management

I coordinate our Masters of Research courses together with Dr Steve Rolfe, and I am admissions tutor for selected PGT programmes. I am also the Placements Coordinator for APS students.