Phil Stevenson

Senior Research Leader, Chemical Ecology


Photo of Phil Stevenson

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.


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 ProtectionThe Natural Products Journal
  • Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society


Selected publications: 

Stevenson, P.C., Nicolson, S.W. & Wright, G.A. (2017). Plant secondary metabolites in nectar: impacts on pollinators and ecological functions. Functional Ecology 31, 65–75.

Palmer-Young, E.C., Sadd, B.M., Stevenson, P.C.,  Irwin, R.E. & Adler, L.S. (2016). Bumble bee parasite strains vary in resistance to phytochemicals. Scientific Reports 6, 37087.

Egan, P.A., Stevenson, P.C., Wright, G.A., Boylan, F. & Stout, J.C. (2016). Toxic nectar varies at multiple spatial scales and in response to plant invasion. Journal of Ecology 104, 1106–1115.

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.

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.

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