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Professor Richard Napier

Richard Napier

Contact Details

Professor Richard Napier

School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick

Research Interests

Our primary interest is in how the plant hormone auxin works because its actions are the foundations for most of the green plant world. As biochemists, we are fascinated by how specificity is conferred for auxin. Millions of similar, but different small organic molecules cause no reaction at all, whilst the natural hormone molecule (known as indole-3-acetic acid, IAA) fits into its binding pocket perfectly.

We purify members of the auxin receptor family of proteins in the lab and use these in experiments to measure binding using advanced instruments like Biacore SPR (surface plasmon resonance). We are interested in how and why different members of the receptor family show preferences for different auxin mimics and this is important in agriculture because synthetic auxins are vitally important selective herbicides.

The Napier group also has research interests in next generation plastics and agriculture. Principally, we are interested in nanoparticles and determining whether or not polymers with particular characteristics (size, charge etc) can pass into plants and how we may use this information to design nanoparticles to carry very specific payloads to benefit crop performance, or to design nanoparticles which are specifically excluded from plants.

In combination with the nanoparticle work, we are interested in developing novel biosensors for plant hormones, and we have been using enzyme electrochemistry and DNA aptamers to recognise the hormone in these sensors.

Supervision Style

In three words or phrases: Freedom to explore, collaborative

Provision of Training

I prefer to take responsibility for your technical training at first, leading to more independence later. There will be additional support from others in the group and from around the lab which is shared with 4 other groups.

Progression Monitoring and Management

We have weekly group meetings where we share successes and challenges. I am always available to help with troubleshooting, but generally you will take ownership of your progression. We will review progress formally at monthly monitoring meetings.


I am generally around the lab on a daily basis and always by email. We meet as a group weekly.

PhD Students can expect scheduled meetings with me:

In a group meeting

At least once per week

In year 1 of PhD study

At least once per month

In year 2 of PhD study

At least once per month

In year 3 of PhD study

At least once per month

These meetings will be mainly face to face, and I am usually contactable for an instant response on every working day.

Working Patterns

The timing of work in my lab is completely flexible, and (other than attending pre-arranged meetings), I expect students to manage their own time.

Notice Period for Feedback

I need at least 1 week’s notice to provide feedback on written work of up to 5000 words.