Internationally renowned plant conservation biologist Professor Stephen Hopper FLS will be stepping down as director of the world heritage-listed Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, UK, to take up a new Chair in Biodiversity at The University of Western Australia.


Professor Hopper will return to UWA to devote more time to research, writing and teaching in biodiversity conservation, plant taxonomy and evolutionary biology.


Attributed to having provided a new momentum to a world-renowned organisation, Professor Hopper will explore opportunities at UWA to further develop a significant international research program, including ongoing collaborative links with Kew.


Professor Hopper has collaborated in the discovery, classification and description of 300 new plant taxa and since 2006 has led the development of a 10-year Breathing Planet program at Kew Gardens which aims to improve the quality of all life on Earth.


Professor Hopper has led new developments in Kew's science, including a concerted focus on restoration ecology aimed at restoring natural biodiversity.  His publication in Plant and Soil in 2009 of OCBIL Theory dealing with biodiversity on old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes is a recent career highlight.


"I came to Kew from The University of Western Australia with a simple aim - to ensure the world, biodiversity and the organisation were in a better place by the time I left.  Like all such aims, my time is marked by achievement in some quarters and much more left to do in others.  Biodiversity has an enormous role to play in helping moderate the worst aspects of global warming and in enabling people to live healthy, sustainable lives," Prof Hopper said.


UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson welcomed Winthrop Professor Hopper's decision to return to his Alma Mater.


"We are delighted that such an outstanding academic and researcher is returning to the University and to one of the world's major bio-diversity hotspots in the South-West of Western Australia.  Winthrop Professor Hopper's enthusiasm for his work, coupled with the opportunities that the South-West provides, are sure to drive major advances in the preservation of rare flora with the potential to solve future global problems."


Winthrop Professor Stephen Hopper FLS will take up his position at UWA in the second half of 2012.