Portrait of  Dr Lorraine H C Fisher

Dr Lorraine H C Fisher

Industry Research Fellow in Agri-Biotechnology
Expertise: Sustainable packaging, abiotic stresses and postharvest response


Dr Lorraine Fisher (Lori) obtained her BSc in Biological Sciences from the University West of England (2008-2011) culminating in a final year project on the effects of salt stress on heat resistance in the algae Chlorella vulgaris. In 2011 she undertook an industry-sponsored PhD at the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in the Energy Crop Biology research group with Dr Maurice Bosch and Professor Luis Mur. Here she exploited the model grass, Brachypodium distachyon, to investigate drought resistance mechanisms through a combination of phenotyping and RNA sequencing investigations, with supplementary studies into the cell wall, utilising high performance liquid chromatography and FTIR spectrometry. During this time, Dr Fisher also carried out various drought screens on the grass Lolium perenne with the international grass seed company DLF Trifolium, based in Denmark.

In February 2016, Dr Fisher joined the Natural Resources Institute at University of Greenwich, where she worked directly with Southern Salads under the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership initiative. Here she was responsible for disseminating knowledge to and from commerce and academia, providing scientific support on both strategic and operational levels. She also developed practical quality assays and methods for the detection of physiological characteristics relating to a specific stress response in salad leaves. She went on to take up an Enterprise Development Fellow role at the University of Greenwich, where she expanded her research profile into postharvest treatments and responses for a range of fruits and vegetables.

In 2021, Lori joined the University of Kent School of Biosciences as an Industry Research Fellow in Agri-biotechnology, where she continues to apply research into postharvest plant physiology. This is a dual role, where she actively engages with stakeholders from the food and drink sector across the Kent to support the Strength in Places initiative ‘Growing Kent and Medway’, as well as UK’s wider AgriTech sector. She aims to build successful collaborations which will support the fresh produce sector as they aim to meet Courtauld commitments, and to promote sustainable food production and security.

Dr Fisher also has provided training and support to BSc and MSc students, presented at international conferences and been involved in a number of public engagement events. She is also the Sustainable Primary Production Champion for the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Food Network.

Areas of Expertise:

Abiotic Stress

  • Elucidating on physiological characteristics in crops which show avoidance, resistance or tolerance to heat and drought stress.
  • Carrying out large scale screening to enable the selection of varieties and ecotypes for commercial breeding programmes.

Postharvest Quality

  • Analysing the effects of pre-harvest stresses on the postharvest quality of fresh produce.
  • Investigating the causes, and profiling the onset, of postharvest quality disorders in fruits and vegetables.
  • Examining physiological and molecular changes within crops during the storage and shelf-life period.

Sustainable Packaging

  • Investigations into the effects of using new and alternate to package fresh produce.
  • Optimising internal packaging environments to extend shelf life e.g., modified atmosphere.

Research interests

Dr Fisher’s initial interests centred around abiotic stresses. Research from her PhD thesis into drought response mechanisms in grasses provides an insight into the behaviour of a wide range of crops during postharvest storage. This cross-over communication between subject disciplines has proven to be extremely useful when searching for innovative solutions to address challenges in applied crop science. To date, Lorraine enjoys offering independent research into crop quality relating to abiotic stress, by way of both scientific study and commercial engagement and experience.
Most recently Lori has focused on improving shelf life, storage and packaging of fresh produce; investigating the impact of edible films and coatings, alternatives to traditional plastics, investigating carrying the effects of modified atmosphere packaging on produce, and the impact of disruptions in the supply chain that affect the responses to these conditions.

Last updated 17 May 2022