Short CV/Education and training

  • I attended university at the liberal arts institution Pomona College in Claremont, California USA and received my BA in 1978. I then began my studies in plant ecology at the University of California at Irvine before transferring to Cornell University (Ithaca NY USA) in 1980 to work with the late Dr Michael D Whalen for my doctorate on taxonomy of Solanum section Geminata (Solanaceae) – a group of Neotropical forest trees and shrubs in the nightshade family. I took a year off during my PhD to collect plants in Panama for the Missouri Botanical Garden, then returned to finish my PhD in 1986. I spent much of my time during my PhD in the field in South and Central America, collecting and studying plants in their natural environments. I came to the Natural History Museum in 1992 to manage the international programme Flora Mesoamericana and have been there since, enjoying my work on the nightshade family and wide range of other biodiversity-related topics.

Selected publications

  • Knapp, S. 2002. Tobacco to tomatoes: a phylogenetic perspective on fruit diversity in the Solanaceae. Journal of Experimental Botany 53: 2001-2022.

  • Knapp, S. 2008. Taxonomy as a team sport. In: Q. Wheeler (ed.) The New Taxonomy, pp. 33-53. Systematics Association Special Volume 76. CRC Press, London.

  • Knapp, S. 2010. On "various contrivances": pollination, phylogeny and flower form in the Solanaceae. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, series B, Biological Sciences 365: 449-460.

  • Knapp, S. 2013. A revision of the Dulcamaroid Clade of Solanum L. (Solanaceae). PhytoKeys 22: 1-432.

  • Särkinen, T., R.G. Olmstead, L. Bohs & S. Knapp. 2013. A phylogenetic framework for evolutionary study of the nightshades (Solanaceae): a dated 1000-tip tree. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13: 214.

  • Knapp, S., M.S. Vorontsova & J. Prohens. 2013. Wild relatives of the eggplant (Solanum melongena L.: Solanaceae): new understanding of species names in a complex group. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57039. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057039.

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • Solanaceae Source (

  • Flora Mesoamericana

  • Chili pepper phylogeny and evolution

  • Biodiversity conservation in South America

  • Evolution of plant domestication

  • Plant-insect interactions in Solanaceae

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • Fellow and Past Botanical Secretary of the Linnean Society of London

  • Member of BBSRC Biosciences and Society Strategy Panel

  • Member of Panel National Geographic Society Global Exploration Fund-Northern Europe

  • Many professorship juries and grant evaluation panels in Europe and USA

Media coverage

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Soft Skills

  • Exploration and plant collecting

  • Popular book authorship

Other activities and achievements/family

  • Three children, born 1987, 1989 and 1990 – one now a theoretical astrophysicist, one an artist and the other in financial public relations. Great dinner table conversations!


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