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Portrait von Laura Junker

PhD Laura Junker-Frohn

Current research

I am a Postdoc in the Shoot dynamics group of Prof. Uwe Rascher, interested in plant responses to abiotic and biotic stresses, and how plant development and responses to their environment can be assessed by different non-invasive methods, including leaf-, plant- and canopy-level measurements of spectral reflectance and sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence.
In the project OG Precision Horticulture (2017-2020), I investigate the effect of aphid infestation on spectral properties of lettuce plants. The project aims to develop a non-invasive method for early detection of aphid infested lettuce plants, which can be integrated in a tractor-borne setup for the selective spraying of infested lettuce plants. Experiments under controlled and field conditions will be conducted to reveal local and systemic changes of plant properties and assess the suitability of different non-invasive techniques, with a focus on spectral reflectance measurements.
In the project OPTIKO (2020-2022), I will apply machine learning algorithms to analyse multispectral images of cauliflower fields taken during UAV overflights. Regular monitoring of fields will be used to detect heterogeneities in plant performance and predict harvest dates. The project contributes to the digitalization of agriculture by the combination of low-cost UAV-based multispectral cameras with novel machine learning algorithms, which will enable the early detection of plant stress symptoms in individual cauliflower plants.
In addition, I am involved in several side projects investigating sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and supervision of MSc and PhD students.

Previous research

I received my PhD in 2016 from the University of Toronto, Canada, for my studies about photoprotective isoprenoids as indicators for stress responses in forest trees, focusing on intraspecific variation of photosynthesis and photoprotective mechanisms of Douglas-fir under abiotic stress conditions. As part of the DFG-funded DougAdapt project, I related my work on photosynthetic gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthetic pigments to analyses of transcriptomes, volatile isoprenoid emissions, isotope signatures, wood properties and tree growth. In addition, I developed a side project investigating physiological changes in senescing sugar maple leaves, linking the decay of the photosynthetic apparatus during senescence with changes in the spectral reflectance and color representation in digital images, using photosynthetic pigments as optical indicators.
2015, I started my first Postdoc at the Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, investigating the bioeconomy potential of residual tomato plant biomass for the extraction of secondary metabolites with industrial relevance in the project InducTomE. In this project, I studied the induction of the secondary metabolism of tomato plants in response to different abiotic stresses, and developed a mobile plant imaging device for the fast and inexpensive phenotyping of plant stress responses.


Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2
52428 Jülich


Phone: +49 2461 61-4826