Contact Dr Sofia Kourmpetli

Areas of expertise

  • Agrifood Systems
  • Food Quality


Sofia holds a BSc(Hons) in Agriculture from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and has worked as an agronomist in the public and private sector before pursuing a career in research. She completed an MSc in Plant Genetic Manipulation at the University of Nottingham and a PhD in Plant Sciences at the same university and Rothamsted Research, UK. She has a background in molecular genetics and developmental biology and her postdoctoral research work was focused on understanding the genetic regulatory networks that control fruit and grain development and quality.

Sofia joined the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield in 2016 as a Lecturer and since then she has been working on and leading research council and industry-funded projects in three main areas: 1) the reduction of food losses and waste, 2) seed quality and germination 3) urban agriculture. She has a proven record of working in multidisciplinary teams to deliver solutions that contribute to food system resilience and sustainability.

Since January 2020 she is also the Network Liaison Manager for the BBSRC-funded Horticultural Quality and Food Loss Network, that aims to bring together industry and academia in order to tackle food loss and waste challenges.

Sofia is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Agrifood MSc Programme Director. She also teaches on the Food Systems and Management MSc and Future Food Sustainability courses in subjects relevant to her expertise.

Research opportunities

PhD projects are available in a broad range of plant science-related subjects for motivated externally-funded or self-funded individuals. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact me to discuss research objectives and areas of interest.

Current activities

Active research projects include:

1. Improving tree seed and establishment to support Agroforestry and on-farm sustainability. (2022 - 2024), in collaboration with Elsoms Seeds Ltd., funded by InnovateUK and Defra.

Understanding the seed physiology of a range of tree and hedgerow species and developing seed treatments to support direct establishment in the field.

2. Reducing seed losses and waste in umbelliferous crops. (2020 - 2024), FoodBiosystems DTP CASE studentship supported by Elsoms Seeds Ltd.

Investigating the genetic control of seed quality traits in parsnip and related crops and developing breeding strategies for reducing seed loss and waste.

3. Understanding seed longevity in weeds and developing non-destructive methods for assessing and monitoring seed quality during storage. (2021 - 2025), FoodBiosystems DTP CASE studentship supported by Syngenta Ltd.

Investigating the underlying mechanisms that control seed longevity and developing methods for predicting and monitoring quality during storage.

4. Rurban Revolution: Can ruralising urban areas through greening and growing create a healthy, sustainable and resilient food system? (2019-2021).

Funded by the Global Food Security Programme, BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and the Scottish Government.

This project is led by Lancaster University and in collaboration with the University of Liverpool.

We aim to build an interdisciplinary evidence base on how urban green spaces and growing potentially influence: a) healthy and sustainable diets by improving availability, access and consumption of fruit and vegetables, b) food production in terms of quantity, quality and safety and the resilience of the UK food system, and c) ecosystem service delivery, both inside and outside cities.

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Articles In Journals

Conference Papers