PARKS, Sophie

Sophie Parks

Research interests

  • Nutritional requirements of plants in cultivation
  • Impacts of production practices on the yield and quality of produce
  • Improving practices for crops growing in hydroponics and protected cropping


Sophie Parks joined the National Centre for Greenhouse Horticulture of the NSW Department of Agriculture* in 2002. She is a Senior Research Scientist, located at the Central Coast Primary Industries Centre, Ourimbah.

Sophie’s MHort and PhD research was conducted on the physiology of phosphorus toxicity in some species of Proteaceae, in particular Banksia ericifolia. Her research at the NSW Department of Primary Industries broadly investigates growing practices that affect the yield and quality of horticultural produce, and the sustainability of production systems. The most recent research has been to investigate practices for evergreen blueberries, such as techniques for thinning flowers and fruit to promote fruit size and quality. The nutritional needs of evergreen blueberry plants, growing in hydroponics and in the field, are a current area of work. Previous research has investigated vegetable crops, for example, the production efficiency of cucumber plants under different levels of climate control within the greenhouse, nitrate accumulation in leafy vegetables, and practices suitable for Asian vegetable crops in hydroponics and protected cropping.

In addition to being a researcher, Sophie has a passion for science mentoring and education and holds a Master’s degree in teaching. These interests are reflected in her role as a supervisor of research students and as a ‘STEM Professional’ in CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program.

*NSW Department of Primary Industries was formed on 1 July 2004 through an amalgamation of NSW Agriculture, NSW Fisheries, State Forests of NSW and the NSW Department of Mineral Resources.


  • BSc – Macquarie University, 1993
  • MHort – Western Sydney University, 1995
  • PhD in Plant Physiology – Western Sydney University, 2000
  • M Teach (Secondary) – Western Sydney University, 2019

Current projects

  • Nutritional requirements of evergreen blueberry plants
  • Pruning strategies for macadamia

Recent publications

Parks SE, Spohr LJ, Olesen T and Jarvis J (2019). The effect of environmental control and plant density on cucumber crop performance in Australian conditions. Fruits (in press).

Le AV, Huynh TT, Parks SE, Nguyen MH and Roach PD (2018). Bioactive composition, antioxidant activity, and anticancer potential of freeze-dried extracts from defatted gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng) seeds. Medicines. 5(3): 104. DOI: 10.3390/medicines5030104

Tran XT, Parks SE, Nguyen MH, Roach PD and Tuyen CK (2017) Changes in physicochemical properties of Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.) during storage. Australian Journal of Crop Science 11(4): 447–452 DOI:10.21475/ajcs.

Chuyen HV, Roach PD, Golding JB, Parks SEand Nguyen MH (2017) Effects of four different drying methods on the carotenoid composition and antioxidant capacity of dried Gac peel. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.7918

Tran XT, Parks SE, Roach PD, Golding JB and Nguyen MH (2016) Effects of maturity on physicochemical properties of Gac fruit (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.). Food Science and Nutrition 4(2): 305–314.

Tan SP, Kha TC, Parks SE and Roach PD (2016) Bitter melon (Momordica charantia L.) bioactive composition and health benefits: A review. Food Reviews International 32(2): 181–202.

Connellan G and Parks SE (2015). The Australian greenhouse industry – meeting the challenges. Acta Horticulturae, 1107: 37–44. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1107.4

Tan SP, Parks SE, Stathopoulos CE and Roach PD (2014). Greenhouse-grown bitter melon: production and quality characteristics. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 94: 1896–1903.

Tan SP, Stathopoulos CE, Roach PD and Parks SE (2014). Optimised aqueous extraction of saponins from bitter melon for production of a saponin-enriched bitter melon powder. Journal of Food Science 79(7): 1372–1381.

Parks SE, Murray CT, Gale D, Al-Khawaldeh B and Spohr LJ (2013). Propagation and production of Gac (Momordica cochinchinensis Spreng.), a greenhouse case study. Experimental Agriculture 49(2): 234–243.

Kha TC, Nguyen MH, Roach PD, Parks SE and Stathopoulos C (2013). The underutilized Gac fruit: nutrient, composition, health benefits and options for processing. Food Reviews International 29: 92–106.

Parks SE, Irving DE and Milham PJ (2012). A critical evaluation of on-farm rapid tests for measuring nitrate in leafy vegetables. Scientia Horticulturae 134: 1–6.

Grewala HS, Maheshwari B and Parks SE (2011). Water and nutrient use efficiency of a low-cost hydroponic greenhouse for a cucumber crop: An Australian case study. Agricultural Water Management 98: 841–846.

Parks SE, Huett DO, Campbell LC and Spohr LJ (2008). Nitrate and nitrite in Australian leafy vegetables. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 59: 632–638.

Parks SE, Haigh AM and Harris A (2007). Responses of six species of Proteaceae, in containers, to controlled-release fertilizer. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 38: 1–11.

Parks SE, Haigh AM, Cresswell GC (2000). Stem tissue phosphorus as an index of the phosphorus status of Banksia ericifolia L. f. Plant and Soil 227: 59–65.

Final Reports

Parks SE (2017) Final Report for Hort Innovation: BB14002. Developing agronomic practices to improve the quality of southern highbush blueberries as an evergreen system.

Parks SE (2013) Final Report for Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation: PRJ-005811. The potential for a gac (cochinchin gourd) industry in Australia.


Parks SE and Murray C (2011) Leafy Asian vegetables and their nutrition in hydroponics. State of New South Wales.

Badgery-Parker J, James L, Jarvis J and Parks SE (2010) Commercial greenhouse cucumber production. State of New South Wales.

Professional associations and activities

  • Australian Society of Horticultural Science (Secretary)
  • International Society of Horticultural Science (Member)
  • Protected Cropping Australia (Member)
  • Conjoint Senior Lecturer, University of Newcastle
  • STEM Professionals in Schools, CSIRO (STEM Professional)

Fields of research

  • 060705 Plant Physiology
  • 070601 Horticultural Crop Growth and Development

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Plant nutrition
  • Hydroponics
  • Protected cropping

Contact details