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    Staff Directory

    Dr Laura Vickers

    BSc PgC PhD

    Associate Head of Department for the Sustainable Systems Section, Senior Lecturer in Plant Biology

    Photograph of Laura


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    I teach crop production, plant physiology and biosciences to undergraduates; entomology, horticulture and plant physiology to postgraduates. I am the course manager for the Agricultural Sciences and Production Systems MSc and the BASIS partnership manager.  

    My research areas of expertise are in organismal adaptability to environmental stress, in particular water stress working with Professor Peter Kettlewell in the area of antitranspirants. I also conduct research in entomology, particularly aphids, and urban farming. I am a advisory board member of the UK Urban AgriTech, as well as working within the Policy and Advocacy group. My other interests are in fresh produce production, postharvest quality, in addition to plants as green infrastructure. 

    Teaching Duties

    Course Manager for the Agricultural Sciences and Production Systems MSc/PgD/PgC

    Module Leader:

    • Agricultural Sciences (level 4)

    Other Teaching:

    • Research Methods (level 5)
    • Environment and Geography Field Course (level 6)
    • Insect Physiology (level 7 - MSc level)
    • Sustainable Farming Systems (level 7)
    • Professional Placement Project (level 7)
    • Case Study (level 7)

    Research Projects/Other Duties

    Farming Futures R&D Fund. 2023-ongoing. Under embargo – Co-Investigator

    HortQFLNet Pump Priming Research Fund - 2022. Understanding the pre-harvest interplay of assimilate production and abscisic acid (ABA) for better control of strawberry crop flushes - Co-Investigator

    QR Funding (Internal Harper Adams Fund) - 2022-23. Quantifying Nutrition from an Urban Agriculture Environment - Co-Investigator

    NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship - 2014-2019. Facilitating knowledge exchange to help the horticultural sector meet global challenges - Principal Investigator

    Link to the Scientia published summary of the fellowships 

    British Ecological Society (BES) Small Ecological Grant, University of Birmingham, 2008-2011. Project Title: Seasonal changes in arachnid (spider) distribution in the Dudley canal Tunnels: an insight into colonisation limits to distribution – Principal Investigator

    Past Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham (2015-21), for 'BIO268 Cell and Developmental Biology' on the topic of plant cell development

    Director of Studies:

    PhD with Vertical Future (previous funding from Digital Farm) awarded by Harper Adams University (Katia Kouloumprouka Zacharaki) 2019 - ongoing - Behaviour of strawberry plants in indoor/vertical production with artificial lighting

    PhD Co-supervisor:  

    PhD studentship at Harper Adams University (Claire Griffiths) 2023 - ongoing - Cultivating interest; The ability of community-based urban agriculture to provide key Ecosystem Services 

    PhD studentship at The University of Vallalodid (Ouiam Fatiha Boukharta) 2022 - ongoing - Best practises in Urban Agriculture

    PhD studentship at Harper Adams University (Misbah Sehar) 2021 - ongoing - The role of pollen starch accumulation in responses of wheat to water stress and antitranspirants 

    PhD studentship at Harper Adams University (Jie Xiang) 2018 - 2022 - Understanding mitigation of drought damage to rapeseed (Brassica Napus L.) from sprays of film antitranspirants

    PhD studentship at Harper Adams University (Wiza Mphande) 2017 - 2021 - The role of Antitranspirants and drought signalling in reproductive developments in Spring Wheat 

    iCASE PhD studentship at the University of Birmingham (David Booth) 2016 - 2020 - Investigation into the agronomic and biological factors affecting postharvest bruising in Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip) 

    Research interests

    • Plant adaption to drought stress and drought mitigation
    • Urban agriculture 
    • Organismal adaptability to the environment in particular insect plasticity to indoor production systems
    • Maximising yield, marketability and storage in fresh produce crops
    • Value of plants with regards to green infrastructure and Health and Wellbeing.


    Boukharta, O. F., Huang, I. Y, Vickers, L., Navas-Gracia, L. M. and Chico-Santamarta, L. (2024) Benefits of non-commercial Urban Agricultural Practices – A systematic map. Agronomy (accepted in press)

    Zacharaki, K, Monaghan, J., Bromley, J. and Vickers, L. (2024) Opportunities and challenges for strawberry cultivation in urban food production systems. Plants, People, Planet. 10.1002/ppp3.10475

    Xiang, J., Vickers, L. H., Hare, M. C., and Kettlewell, P. S. (2023) Increasing the concentration of film antitranspirant increases yields of rapeseed under terminal drought by improving plant water status Agricultural Water Management284.

    Xiang, J., Vickers, L. H., Hare, M. C., and Kettlewell, P. S. (2022) Evaluation of the concentration-response relationship between film antitranspirant and yield of rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) under drought Agricultural Water Management, 270.

    Mphande, W., Farrell, A. D., Grove, I. G., Vickers, L.H. and Kettlewell, P. S. (2021) Metabolic and film antitranspirants both reduce drought damage to wheat yield despite having contrasting effects on leaf ABA Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science

    Xiang, J., Hare, M., Vickers, L. and Kettlewell, P. (2021) Estimation of film antitranspirant spray coverage on rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) leaves using titanium dioxide. Crop Protection 105531

    Mphande, W., Farrell, A. D., Grove, I.G., Vickers, L.H. and Kettlewell, P.S. (2020) Yield improvement by antitranspirant application in droughted wheat is associated with reduced endogenous abscisic acid concentration Agricultural Water Management, 244.

    Beacham, A. M.; Vickers, L. H and Monaghan, J. M. (2019) Vertical Farming: A Summary of Approaches to Growing Skywards Journal of Horticulture Science and Biotechnology In Press

    Pritchard, J. and Vickers, L.H. (2017) Chapter 7 Aphids and Stress. Aphids as Crop Pests. Ed: Emden, H van, Harrington, R. CABI 

    Hunter, P.J.; Atkinson, L.D.; Vickers, L.H.; Lignou, S.; Oruna-Concha, M.J.; Pink, D.A.C.; Hand, P.; Barker, G.; Wagstaff, C. and Monaghan, J.M. (2017). Oxidative discolouration in whole-head and cut lettuce: biochemical and environmental influences on a complex phenotype and potential breeding strategies to improve shelf-life. Euphytica, 213 (8)

    Vickers, L. H. (2016) Gardening sustainably for the future. Living with Environmental Change. Policy in Practice Notes, Note 29 [Accessible here

    Monaghan, J.M.; Vickers, L.H.; Grove, I.G. and Beacham, A.M. (2016) Deficit irrigation reduces postharvest rib pinking in wholehead Iceberg lettuce, but at the expense of head fresh weight. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97 (5), 1524–1528

    Hossain, M.R., Vickers, L., Sharma, G., Livermore, T., Pritchard, J. and Ford-Lloyd, B.V. (2016) Chapter 22 Salinity Tolerance in Plants: Insights from Transcriptomic Studies. In Managing Salt Tolerance in Plants: Molecular and Genomic Perspectives. Ed Wani, S.H. and Hossain, M.A. CRC Press

    Vickers, L.H., Grove, I.G. and Monaghan, J.M. (2015) Irrigation affects postharvest discolouration and yield in iceberg lettuce. Acta Horticulturae 1091, 253-258

    Vickers, L.H., Grove, I.G. and Monaghan, J.M. (2015) Soil type and irrigation affects onion yield and storability. Acta Horticulturae, 1091, 245-251

    Monaghan, J.M., Daccache, A., Vickers, L.H., Hess, T.M., Weatherhead, K.E., Grove, I.G. and Knox, J. W. (2013) More ‘crop per drop’: constraints and opportunities for precision irrigation in European agriculture. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 93 (5), 977-80

    Vickers, L., Moorhouse, E. and Monaghan, J. (2013) FV 413 - A review of the agronomic factors that influence postharvest pinking in lettuce. Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board

    Professional Memberships

    UK Urban Agri Tech - Advisory Board member


    Academic Department: Agriculture and Environment

    Office: JA04 Jubilee Adams, Tudor Lodge and NW Building

    Research profile: ORCID


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    Additional Information

    You can connect or contact me on LinkedIn: Profile Link



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