Associate Professor Lee Hickey

Principal Research Fellow

Centre for Crop Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
+61 7 336 54805


Associate Professor Lee Hickey is a plant breeder and crop geneticist within the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at The University of Queensland, Australia. He leads a diverse research team that specialises in plant breeding innovation to support development of more productive food crops like wheat, barley, mungbean and chickpea. This includes understanding the genetics of key traits like drought adaptation and disease resistance, plus the development of novel technologies to assist plant breeders. He has a strong interest in the integration of breeding technologies, such as the rapid generation advance technology ‘speed breeding’ with genomic selection and genome editing. His advice for speed breeding crops is sought internationally and the technology is now adopted by plant breeding programs worldwide, which is fast-tracking development of improved crop varieties for farmers. His research outcomes have featured in 63 refereed publications, including articles in high profile journals Nature Plants, Nature Protocols and Nature Biotechnology. Lee is a prolific science communicator and his research outcomes have appeared in mainstream media such as BBC World News, National Geographic, and the New York Times. He is passionate about training the next generation of plant breeders and currently mentors 11 PhD students, while 12 of his previous graduates now work for leading plant breeding companies and high-profile research institutes around the globe.

Check out the Hickey Lab website here

Follow Associate Professor Lee Hickey on Twitter: @DrHikov

Research interests

  • Speed breeding techniques to reduce the length of breeding cycles
  • Understanding the genetics of drought adaptive traits and their value in different environments
  • Integration of breeding technologies to accelerate genetic gain in breeding programs
  • Innovative genomic selection methodologies
  • Understanding genetic resistance to pathogens that attack wheat and barley

Research Impacts

Why the world needs faster food

We need to embrace new technology to feed the world in the face of climate change and rapidly evolving pests and diseases: watch A/Prof Hickey's TEDx talk.

Grow Faster, Grow Stronger: Speed-Breeding Crops to Feed the Future

Speed breeding technology featured in the New York Times, read the article here.

Lab-free genome editing to develop future crops

A/Prof Hickey reieved a UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award to develop lab-free genome editing systems, watch the video.


  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours Clas, The University of Queensland
  • Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


  • Christopher, Mandy, Paccapelo, Valeria, Kelly, Alison, Macdonald, Bethany, Hickey, Lee, Richard, Cécile, Verbyla, Ari, Chenu, Karine, Borrell, Andrew, Amin, Asad and Christopher, Jack (2021). QTL identified for stay-green in a multi-reference nested association mapping population of wheat exhibit context dependent expression and parent-specific alleles. Field Crops Research, 270 108181. doi: 10.1016/j.fcr.2021.108181

  • Dinglasan, Eric G., Peressini, Tamaya, Marathamuthu, Kalai A., See, Pao Theen, Snyman, Lisle, Platz, Greg, Godwin, Ian, Voss-Fels, Kai P., Moffat, Caroline S. and Hickey, Lee T. (2021). Genetic characterization of adult-plant resistance to tan spot (syn, yellow spot) in wheat. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. doi: 10.1007/s00122-021-03861-8

  • Ober, Eric S., Alahmad, Samir, Cockram, James, Forestan, Cristian, Hickey, Lee T., Kant, Josefine, Maccaferri, Marco, Marr, Emily, Milner, Matthew, Pinto, Francisco, Rambla, Charlotte, Reynolds, Matthew, Salvi, Silvio, Sciara, Giuseppe, Snowdon, Rod J., Thomelin, Pauline, Tuberosa, Roberto, Uauy, Cristobal, Voss-Fels, Kai P., Wallington, Emma and Watt, Michelle (2021). Wheat root systems as a breeding target for climate resilience. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 134 (6), 1645-1662. doi: 10.1007/s00122-021-03819-w

View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Voss-Fels, Kai P., Herzog, Eva, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Watson, Amy, Frisch, Matthias, Hayes, Ben and Hickey, Lee T. (2019). “SpeedGS” to accelerate genetic gain in spring wheat. Applications of genetic and genomic research in cereals. (pp. 303-327) edited by Thomas Miedaner and Viktor Korzun. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-08-102163-7.00014-4

  • Riaz, Adnan and Hickey, Lee T. (2017). Rapid phenotyping adult plant resistance to stem rust in wheat grown under controlled conditions. Wheat rust diseases: methods and protocols. (pp. 183-196) edited by Sambasivam Periyannan. New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7249-4_16

  • Mackay, M. C., Street, K. A. and Hickey, L. T. (2016). Toward more effective discovery and deployment of novel plant genetic variation: reflection and future directions. Applied mathematics and omics to assess crop genetic resources for climate change adaptive traits. (pp. 139-150) edited by Abdallah Bari, Ardeshir B. Damania, Michael Mackay and Selvadurai Dayanandan. Boca Raton, FL, United States: Taylor & Francis Group. doi: 10.1201/b19518-16

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision