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Staff Directory

Dr Laura Vickers


Senior Lecturer in Plant Biology

I have had a very board research career, having worked on the distribution and physiology of wild Caiman crocodilius yacare in Brazil as part of my undergraduate degree, before completing a PhD at the University of Birmingham on the response of aphids to drought. During my PhD I was awarded a Small Ecological Project Grant from the BES, to investigate the distribution of invertebrates in an underground canal system in an inner city area of the Black Country. The project was successfully covered by the BBC in a series of local television and radio interviews.

After my PhD I took up a postdoc role at Harper Adams University, within the Fresh Produce Research Centre. My research involved investigating the use of deficit irrigation in lettuce and onion crop systems to save water, and evaluated the impact of this form of irrigation on crop yield, marketability and storability. I then returned to the University of Birmingham for a year to undertake a teaching focused lecturing role before leaving to take up a permanent lectureship in the Crops Department at Harper Adams University, as well as being awarded a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship in Horticulture.

I lead the Urban Farming theme within Harper Adams University and work within the Drought Mitigation Group, Plant Physiology and Fresh Produce Research Centre. I also coordinate the MSc in Agricultural Sciences and Production Systems. My research areas of expertise are in organismal adaptability to environmental stress, in particular water stress and urban farming. I am also involved in Knowledge Exchange in the Horticultural sector and regularly involve myself in public outreach activities with a long history of public engagement spanning a decade.

Teaching Duties

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

Module Leader:

  • Biosciences for Agriculture (level 4)
  • Commodity Crops and Fresh Produce Processing (level 5)

Other Teaching:

  • Countryside Studies (level 3)
  • Fresh Produce (level 5)
  • Research Methods (level 5)
  • Insect Physiology (level 7 - MSc level)
  • Sustainable Farming Systems (level 7 - MSc level)

Research Projects/Other Duties

Visiting Lecturer at the University of Birmingham. Guest Lecturer for level 5 'BIO268 Cell and Developmental Biology' on the topic of plant cell development

NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow in the area of Horticulture (2014-18) - Facilitating knowledge exchange to help the horticultural sector meet global challenges.

Director of Studies:

PhD with 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:  

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) 

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

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


Research interests

1) Plant adaption to drought stress and drought mitigation

2) Urban agriculture and future cities

3) Organismal adaptability to the environment in particular insect plasticity to indoor production systems

3) Maximising yield, marketability and storage in fresh produce crops

4) Value of plants with regards to green infrastructure and Health and Wellbeing.



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 (in press)

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

Member of the Society for Experimental Biology

Academic Department: Crop and Environment Sciences

Tel: +44 (0)1952 815288

Fax: +44 (0)1952 814783

Twitter: @DrLHVickers

Office: JA04 Jubilee Adams, Tudor Lodge and NW Building

Research profile: ORCID


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Additional Information

You can follow or contact me on a number of different social networking sites.

Twitter: @drlhvickers



You can contact Dr Laura Vickers if you would like to discuss any of the following course modules:



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