Phil Stevenson

NERC Merit Researcher/Senior Research Leader, Chemical Ecology


I lead Kew’s research on the ecological function of plant and fungal chemicals, the interactions that plant chemicals mediate 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 mediates pollinator-plant and plant-pest interactions.  This includes how plant chemicals affect insect behaviour, health and ecosystem function, for example through exposure to toxins or inadequate nutrition and the potential for plants to provide environmentally benign alternative pest control in smallholder agriculture. My work is funded by BBSRC, National Science Foundation (US), European Union, Peter Sowerby Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.

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


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc, Applied Biology, Brunel University, 1988
  • PhD, University of London, 1992
  • Professor (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


Selected publications: 

Arnold, S.E.J., Perry, G.B., Spinelli, G.R., Pierre, B., Murray, F., Haughton, C., Dockery, O., Grey, L., Murphy, S.T., Belmain, S.R. & Stevenson, P.C. (2018). The significance of climate in the pollinator dynamics of a tropical agroforestry system. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 254, 1–9.

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.

Barlow, S., Wright G.A., Ma, C., Barberis, M., Farrell, I.W., Marr, E.M., Brankin, A., Pavlik, B.M. & Stevenson, P.C. (2017). Distasteful nectar deters floral robbery.  Current Biology, 27, 2552–2558.

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.

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.