Professor Phil Stevenson

Head of Trait Diversity and Function


I am the Priority Leader of Trait Diversity and Function, the Science Priority studying plant and fungal traits, to aid conservation, increase resilience to global change, and explore potential uses of plants and fungi for human health and well-being.

I am also Head of the Biological Chemistry research group with a focus on the ecological function of plant chemicals, especially those that mediate interactions between plants and insects and the potential to use plants sustainably for enhancing ecosystem services and developing sustainable food systems through agroecology and sustainable crop production.  

Current research is funded by BBSRC, NERC, Leverhulme Trust, National Science Foundation (USA) and Peter Sowerby Foundation. This supports work on plant chemistry of nectar and pollen and on how this mediates plant-pollinator interactions and pollinator health and behaviour for example through consumption of bioactive nectar metabolites or essential nutrients including pollen lipids. Funding from McKnight Foundation and Innovate UK supports work on the chemistry of plant-pest interactions, how plant chemicals influence insect behaviour and provide environmentally benign pest control for sustainable crop production. 

I hold a dual role as Professor of Plant Chemistry at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich.

  • BSc Applied Biology, Brunel University, 1988
  • PhD, University of London, 1992
  • Professor of Plant Chemistry, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, 2011
  • Regional Editor, Biopesticides International
  • Subject Editor, Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • Editorial Board, People, Plants, Planet; Crop Protection; The Natural Products Journal
  • Pollinator Advisory Steering Group (Defra)
  • Group Evidence Science and Analysis Committee (GESAC-Defra)
  • Advisory Board: All Party Parliamentary Group on Bees and Pollinators. 

Arnold, S.E.J., Dudenhöffer, J., Fountain, M.T., James, K.L., Hall, D.R., Farman, D.I., Wäckers, F. & Stevenson, P.C. (2021) 

Bumble bees show an induced preference for flowers when primed with caffeinated nectar and a target floral odour.

Current Biology 31: 4127-4131.

Zu, P., Koch, H., Schwery, O., Pironon, S., Phillips, C., Ondo, I., Farrell, I.W., Nes, W.D., Moore, E., Wright, G.A., Farman, D.I. & Stevenson P.C. (2021)

Pollen sterols are associated with phylogenetics and environment but not with pollinators.

New Phytologist 230: 1169-1184. 

Zu P, Boege, K., del-Val, E., Schuman, M.C., Stevenson, P.C., Zaldivar-Riveron, A. & Saavedra, S.  (2020) 

Information arms race explains plant-herbivore chemical communication in ecological communities.

Science 368: 1377-1381.

Koch, H., Woodward, J., Langat, M., Brown. M.J.F. & Stevenson, P.C. (2019) 

Flagellum removal by a nectar metabolite inhibits infectivity of a bumblebee parasite.

Current Biology 29: 3494–3500. 

Palmer-Young, E., Egan, P., Farrell, I., Adler, L.S., Irwin, R.E. & Stevenson, P.C. (2019)

Chemistry of floral rewards: intra- and interspecific variability of nectar and pollen secondary metabolites across taxa.

Ecological Monographs 89: e01335.

Get in touch


Phil Stevenson    


Phil Stevenson


Phil Stevenson

Google Scholar

Phil Stevenson