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Helen Hicks

Helen Hicks

Senior Lecturer

School of Animal Rural & Environmental Sciences

Staff Group(s)


Dr Hicks is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences. She currently teaches Environmental Monitoring & GIS, Wildlife Population Biology, Earth Systems and Environmental & Wildlife Law & Policy.

Career overview

Helen started her career with an Undergraduate degree in Geography (BSc Hons) from the University of Birmingham in 2005. She completed her MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation at UEA in 2006. Helen then went on to work for a number of research institutes (Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and conservation charities (Wildlife Trusts and Freshwater Habitats Trust), before returning to academia to complete her PhD in agricultural ecology at the University of Reading. Helen’s PhD research looked at the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes for providing nesting and foraging habitat for farmland birds. Her recent research has been as part of a BBSRC funded project investigating herbicide resistance in UK agriculture. Helen is now a lecturer in Environmental Science and incorporates her research interests into the delivery of modules on undergraduate taught courses.

Research areas

Helen’s research interests centre on sustainable agricultural practices and balancing food production with biodiversity conservation. Her PhD research modelled farmland bird populations and assessed how ‘wildlife-friendly’ agri-environment schemes could contribute to the niche requirements of 19 bird species. More recently, Helen has been looking at the causative factors in the evolution of herbicide resistance in arable weeds in the UK, and the likely management implications for the agricultural sector. She completed a fellowship at the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology where she wrote a policy briefing document on 'Balancing Nature and Agriculture'. Helen continues to work in collaboration with academics from the University of Sheffield, Rothamsted Research and Natural History Museum, and is currently interested in how farmers’ information networks and risk perceptions influence their farm management decisions, especially with relation to agri-chemical use and managing evolution of herbicide resistance.

External activity

Dr Hicks has a network of collaborators from UK universities and research institutions: University of Sheffield, Natural History Museum (NHM, London), University of York, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Rothamsted Research. She also has close contacts with Defra and the National Trust.


Selected publications:

Varah, A., Ahodo, K., Coutts, S.R., Hicks, H. L., Comont, D., Crook, L., Hull, R, Neve, P., Childs, D.Z., Freckleton, R. P. & Norris, K. (2019) The costs of human-induced evolution in an agricultural system. Nature Sustainability doi:10.1038/s41893-019-0450-8

Comont, D., Hicks, H. L., Crook, L., Hull, R., Cocciantelli, E., Hadfield, J., Childs, D., Freckleton, R. and Neve, P. (2019), Evolutionary epidemiology predicts the emergence of glyphosate resistance in a major agricultural weed. New Phytol, 223: 1584-1594. doi:10.1111/nph.15800

Ahodo, K., Oglethorpe, D., Hicks, H.L. , & Freckleton, R. (2019). Estimating the farm-level economic costs of spring cropping to manage Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) in UK agriculture. The Journal of Agricultural Science, 157(4), 318-332. doi:10.1017/S0021859619000650

Hicks, H. L., D. Comont, S. R. Coutts, L. Crook, R. Hull, K. Norris, P. Neve, D. Z. Childs and R. P. Freckleton (2018). The factors driving evolved herbicide resistance at a national scale. Nature Ecology & Evolution 2(3): 529-536.

Freckleton, R., Hicks, H L., Comont, D., Crook, L., Hull, R., Neve, P. and Childs, D., 2017. Measuring the effectiveness of management interventions at regional scales by integratingecological monitoring and modelling. Pest Management Science

Lambert J, Hicks H L, Childs D, Freckleton R, 2017. Evaluating the potential of UnmannedAerial Systems for mapping weeds at field scales: a case study with Alopecurus myosuroides. Weed Research

Balancing Nature and Agriculture, 2012, Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology POSTnote 418

See all of Helen Hicks's publications...