Director - Professor Stephen D. Hopper FLS

Professor Stephen Hopper, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Professor Steve Hopper is the 14th Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He holds Visiting Professorships at the University of Reading, The University of Western Australia and at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth. He was awarded a Commonwealth Centenary Medal for service to the community in 2003. He was honoured to become a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a Corresponding Member of the Botanical Society of America in 2007, and received the Nancy T. Burbidge Memorial Medal from the Australian Systematic Botany Society in 2008.

Steve Hopper is a plant conservation biologist, best known for pioneering research leading to positive conservation outcomes in south-west Australia (one of the few temperate-zone global biodiversity hotspots) and for the collaborative description of 300 new plant taxa (eucalypts, orchids, and the kangaroo paw family Haemodoraceae). He graduated from The University of Western Australia with a BSc (Hons 1st class) in botany and zoology in 1973 and a PhD on speciation in kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos: Haemodoraceae) in 1978. He was employed as Western Australia’s first Flora Conservation Research Officer in 1977, and promoted to Senior Principal Research Scientist and Officer in Charge of the Western Australian Wildlife Research Centre, Department of Conservation and Land management from 1988-1992.   In 1990 he was Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Georgia and Miller Visiting Research Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, working on granite outcrop plant life, which continues as a research interest. Professor Hopper joined Kings Park and Botanic Garden as the Director in 1992, and from 1999 to 2004 served as Chief Executive Officer of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (which manages Kings Park and Botanic Garden and Bold Park), leading the delivery of improvements to programmes and infrastructure to world-class standards.

Apart from extensive research in southwest Australia, Steve Hopper has explored Australian deserts since 1980, and conducted field research in the USA since 1990 and South Africa since 1997.  While Foundation Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at The University of Western Australia from 2004-2006, he developed new theory on the evolution and conservation of biodiversity on the world’s oldest landscapes, and led the establishment of new degrees in conservation biology.

He is author/coauthor of some 250 scientific publications (134 peer reviewed), and 14 books and monographs, including Western Australia's Endangered Flora (1990), The Banksia Atlas (1991), Kangaroo Paws and Catspaws: a Natural History and Field Guide (1993), Life on the Rocks The Art of Survival (1999, 2nd ed 2008), Spider, Fairy and Dragon Orchids of Western Australia  (2001), Soul of the Desert (2005) and Orchids of Western Australia (2008).

He joined Kew, a World Heritage site and global plant science powerhouse, in October 2006, where he steered the preparation of celebrations for the organisation’s 250th anniversary in 2009. He has also led the development of a forward 10 year Breathing Planet Programme for Kew and its global partners. This collaborative Programme aims to make an urgent and necessary step change in the application of science-based plant diversity solutions towards sustainable living and a reasonable quality of life in the face of accelerating climate change and the loss of biodiversity.