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Hopper, Stephen, D

Job title: 

Previous Director of Kew and Honorary Research Associate

Executive Directorate
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 


  • Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Western Australia (2010)
  • PhD (speciation in kangaroo paws), University of Western Australia (1978)
  • BSc Hons 1st class, majors in botany and zoology, University of Western Australia (1973)


  • Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2011 -)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Reading (2007-2010)
  • Corresponding Member, Botanical Society of America (2007 - )
  • Fellow of the Linnaean Society (2007 - )
  • Director/CEO of Kings Park and Botanic Garden/Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Perth, Western Australia (1992-2004)
  • Foundation Professor of Plant Conservation Biology, University of Western Australia (2004-2006)
  • Visiting Research Professor, University of Western Australia (2006 - )
  • President, Australian Systematic Botany Society (2003-2006)
  • Board member, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (2006 - )
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia Scientific Advisory Committee (1991 - 97), Trustee/Governor (1995 - present)
  • Royal Society of Western Australia, member (1980 - ), Ordinary Council Member (1985-97), Publications Committee (1991 - 1996), Vice-President (1993-95), President (1995-96), Immediate Past President (1996-97)

In addition to duties as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientist of RBG Kew, Professor Stephen Hopper conducts research in plant conservation biology, evolution, systematics and biogeography, with special reference to southwest Australia, global granite outcrop floras, and biodiversity on the world's oldest landscapes.

Stephen's primary focus is on evolutionary, systematic and conservation research relating to the southwest Australian biodiversity hotspot.The discovery and description of 300 new Australian plant taxa was one of the outcomes of this programme. Other major research areas included developing and testing evolutionary hypotheses on origins of plant species richness in the world's oldest, climatically buffered infertile landscapes, elucidation of new aspects of vertebrate pollination ecology, flora conservation and conservation genetics applied to the Australian flora, and the development of collaborative international programs on the biogeography and conservation of granite outcrop floras. Volumes on the Haemodoraceae plant family, plants of granite rock outcrops and the southwest Australian flora, were also in preparation .

Selected publications: 

Bradshaw, S.D., Dixon, K.W., Hopper, S.D., Lambers, H. & Turner, S.R. (2011). Little evidence for fire-adapted traits in Mediterranean climate regions. Trends in Plant Science 16: 69-76.

Hopper, S.D., Smith, R.J., Fay, M.F., Manning, J.C. & Chase, M.W. (2009). Molecular phylogenetics of Haemodoraceae in the Greater Cape and Southwest Australian Floristic Regions. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51: 19-30.

Hopper, S.D. & Lambers, H. (2009). Darwin as a plant scientist: a Southern Hemisphere perspective. Trends in Plant Science 14: 421-435.

Hopper, S.D. (2009). OCBIL theory: towards an integrated understanding of the evolution and conservation of biodiversity on old and young landscapes. Plant and Soil 322: 49-86.

Hopper, S.D. (2007). New life for systematics. Science 316: 1097.