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Stevenson, Phil

Photo of Phil Stevenson
Job title: 

Senior Research Leader, Chemical Ecology

Natural Capital and Plant Health
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Basic French

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc, Applied Biology, Brunel University, 1988
  • PhD, University of London, 1992
  • Professorship. Awarded title Professor of Plant Chemistry University of Greenwich, 2011
  • Regional Editor, Biopesticides International
  • Subject Editor Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • Editorial Board, Crop Protection, The Natural Products Journal
  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society

As Senior Research Leader of Chemical Ecology I lead Kew’s research on the ecological function of plant and fungal chemicals, the interactions chemistry mediates between plants and other organisms and the potential to use plants sustainably for enhancing ecosystems and improving horticulture.

My research focuses on the chemistry that drives pollinator-plant interactions, how plant chemicals affect insect behaviour and ecosystem function, for example through pollinator exposure to invertebrate toxins or provision of adequate nutrition and the potential of plants to provide environmentally benign alternative pest control technologies in smallholder agriculture. My work is funded by BBSRC, National Science Foundation (US), European Union, Peter Sowerby Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.

Selected publications: 

Egan, P. A., Stevenson, P. C., Tiedeken, E. J., Wright, G. A., Boylan, F. & Stout, J. C. (2016). Plant toxin levels in nectar vary spatially across native and introduced populations. Journal of Ecology. (online) DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12573.  Available online

Stevenson, P. C., Green, P. W. C., Veitch, N. C., Farrell, I., Kusolwa, P. & Belmain, S.R. (2016). Nor-Hopanes explain pest control activity of Zanha africana root bark. Phytochemistry 123: 25-32.

Tiedeken E-J., Egan, P.A., Stevenson, P. C., Wright, G.A., Brown, M.J.F., Power, E.F., Farrell., I., Matthews, S.M. & Stout, J.C. (2016). Nectar chemistry modulates the impact of invasive plant species on native pollinators. Functional Ecology 30: 885-893.

Oliver, C., Softley, S., Williamson, S., Stevenson P. C. & Wright, G.A. (2015). Sodium channel activators have subtle effects on the motor function, grooming and wing fanning behaviour of honeybees (Apis mellifera). PLoS One 10(8). e0133733 (CEIB 15-02) Available online 

Arnold, S. E. J., Arnold, S. E. J., Peralta Idrovo, M. E., Lomas Arias, L. J., Belmain, S. R. & Stevenson, P. C. (2014). Herbivore defence compounds occur in pollen and reduce bumblebee colony fitness. Journal of Chemical Ecology 40: 878–881.

Wright, G. A., Baker, D. D., Palmer, M. J., Stabler, D., Mustard, J. A., Power, E. F., Borland, A. M. & Stevenson, P. C. (2013). Caffeine in floral nectar enhances a pollinator's memory of reward. Science 339: 1202–1204.