Geography, Environment and Agriculture research


Research in agriculture, food, environmental sciences, and geography is focused principally in areas of

  • crop protection
  • climate change mitigation
  • environmental conservation
  • food security
  • food systems governance
  • plant health
  • transport and urban planning
  • water resources and quality
  • whole farm ecological management

The research is applied and engages fully with the communities we aim to support by providing sustainable solutions in changing and challenging times for our planet.

This focus creates a dynamic culture and environment extending our reach nationally and internationally through impact, exploitation and dissemination.

Our goal is to provide solutions, advice, and improved technologies that will help to mitigate against the changing environment, climate and future uncertainties.

The Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences Unit (AFVS)

The research unit of Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences was established in 2011 and has progressed significantly towards its vision of establishing the University of Hertfordshire (UH) as an important research centre in the Sustainable Production of Food in a Healthy Environment for a Healthy Population.

AFVS research is based in the Science Building which opened in 2016.

Research structures within AFVS are aligned to the core research strengths of the Unit and are supported through collaborations across the. Researchers operate within three main research groups:

  • Crop Protection and Climate Change (CPC) Research focuses on sustainable, environmentally benign strategies for control of crop pests, nematodes and diseases, under impacts of climate change, with applications to control of some human diseases
  • Agriculture and Environmental Management (AEM) AEM specialises in agri-environmental science, water resource management and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • Food Policy, Nutrition, Diet and Physiology (FPNDP)  Work addresses food in relation to diet and its impact on disease, and policy and governance impacts on the food system

Areas of interest

Research funding

Grants have recently been awarded for research from organisations including: the BBSRC, RCUK Global Challenges Fund, the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Defra, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, and a number of Charitable Trusts and Foundations.

Some notable recent research funding successes include:

  • Dr Yongju Huang and Prof Bruce Fitt, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds funded project ‘Understanding risks of severe phoma stem canker caused by Leptosphaeria biglobosa on winter oilseed rape in the UK’, grant of £120,000 from April 2015 for four years.
  • Prof Bruce Fitt and Dr Yongju Huang, Innovate UK/BBSRC funded project ‘Strategies to increase durability of host resistance for effective control of phoma stem canker on oilseed grant of £116,649 from September 2015 for three years.
  • Prof Bruce Fitt and Dr Henrik Stotz (CO-Is), BBSRC funded ERA-CAPS project MAQBAT: Mechanistic Analysis of Quantitative Disease Resistance in Brassicas by Associative Transcriptomics, grant of £350,000 from Nov. 2015 for three years.
  • Prof. Bruce Fitt and Dr Yongju Huang, Agri-tech Round 5/BBSRC funded project ‘Integrated strategy to control Leptosphaeria pathogens on UK winter oilseed rape’ grant of £369,153 for three years from October 2016.
  • Prof. David Barling EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation funded project Valumics: Understanding Food Value Chains and Network Dynamics, with 20 other international partners, with a grant of €467,750 to University of Hertfordshire from June 2017 for four years
  • Prof. Kathy Lewis, Dr John Tzilivakis and AERU, EU’s Joint Research Centre funded work on Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs), for which total grants of €114,000 has been received to date.
  • Dr. Frances Harris Global Challenges Research Fund’s Building Resilience programme funded project Disaster Relief in Bhutan with a grant to University of Hertfordshire of £20,000 from January 2017 for 18 months.

Research student areas

There are a growing number of research students within this area and we can offer research provision supervision in a wide variety of topics including:

Research AreaSupervisors 
Crop protection, microbiology and environment including Plant Pathology, Plant Health, Nematology.Dr Yongju Huang, Dr Henrik Stotz, Prof. Kathy Lewis
Enhancing Abiotic Plant Stress ResilienceDr. Cristina Barrero Sicilia
Agriculture and whole farm ecological impact measurement, climate change mitigation and adaptationProf. Kathy Lewis, Dr Aiming Qi
Interactions between agriculture and the environment including impacts of soil management and grazing strategiesProf. Kathy Lewis, Dr Frances Harris
Pesticide composition, detection and monitoringProf. Kathy Lewis
Mountain irrigation and farming systems, landscape and aquatic ecology water management and quality.Dr Ronni Edmunds-Brown, Dr Darren Crook
GlaciologyDr Phil Porter, Dr Danni Pearce
Food Security, food systems policy and governanceProf David Barling 
Sustainable planning, urban design and transportDr Richard Southern, Dr Susan Parham, Dr Scott Copsey 

We welcome applications for PhD or an MSc by research .We recommend that you discuss your proposed research with a member of academic staff of the GEA Research Group before submitting your application. Please name the staff member when submitting your application.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Yongju Huang, Biological and Environmental Sciences Research Tutor.

Download your application form here. Application forms should be returned to Mrs Elizabeth Day, Research degrees administrator.

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust

The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust offers its annual Centenary Award, providing bursaries for postgraduate students in agriculture. The award provides annual bursaries of up to 75% of course fees for selected postgraduate students (Masters or PhD).