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Allkin, Robert (Bob)

Photo of Bob Alkin
Job title: 

Plant Name Services Product Manager

Business and Corporate Services
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Portuguese (fluent), Spanish (fluent)

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Biology, University of London, 1976
  • PhD, Biological Computing, University of Westminster / Natural History Museum, 1979
  • Council, British Classification Society (1987-1991)
  • Council, Systematics Association (1991-1995)
  • Chair, IUBS Taxonomic Database Working Group Data Exchange Committee (1986-1993)
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Centre for Plant Conservation, Missouri Botanical Garden (1996-2000)

I work toward the effective delivery of information about plants, particularly to those outside of science, and in measuring the impact of such services.

Who uses our information and how? What benefits do they derive? What are the social and scientific impacts of this use? Knowledge-based initiatives and the delivery of appropriately designed information products and services can contribute toward achieving Kew’s strategic goals and in demonstrating the relevance of our science to others.

I have 25 years experience managing and disseminating information about plant biodiversity - leading and working in multidisciplinary teams to design and manage databases and deliver information services. I designed and ran an information network in Brazil in support of rural development involving 40 institutional partners, linking scientists with organisations needing plant information to livelihoods and development goals.

More recently I managed the design and delivery of The Plant List ( merging plant name resources from Kew, the Missouri Botanical Garden and other collaborating institutions in order to meet Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

I manage the IT components of various plant name resources at Kew and initiatives to promote access to these data.

I lead on the Medicinal Plant Names Services project (now funded through a grant from the Wellcome Trust to Alan Paton and myself) to build sustainable information services specifically for the health and pharmaceutical sectors.

Selected publications: 

Rivera, D., Allkin, R., Obón, C., Alcaraz, F., Verpoorte, R. & Heinrich, M. (2014). What is in a name? The need for accurate scientific nomenclature for plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacy 147(1): 1-31.

Allkin, R. (2014). Communicating safely and effectively using plant names. In: Traditional Medicines and Globalisation: the Future of Systems in Medicine, ed. Pulok K. Muherjee, Chapter 11, pp. 111 -125. Maven Press. ISBN 978-81-926243-0-3

Simmonds, M. S. J., Leon, C., Howes, M. J., Paton, A., Allkin, R., Kite, G. C. & Porter, E. (2010). Authentication of plants used in medicines, especially traditional Chinese medicine: challenges and opportunities. [Abstract]. Revista de Fitoterapia 10(S1): 179. Available online.

Allkin, R., Duin, D., Eekhout, X. & Lyal, C. (2009a). Meeting the needs of those who use scientific names. [Poster Abstract]. e-Biosphere 09.  Available online.

Allkin, R. (2009b). Communicating safely & effectively using plant names. Consortium for Globalization of Chinese Medicine.  Available online.