Stephen Blackmore studied botany at the University of Reading where he became interested in the organisation of plants at the microscopic level and, for his PhD completed in 1976, studied pollen grains using the then recently available scanning electron microscope. He worked on Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean and in Malawi before moving to the Natural History Museum in London in 1980 to continue research into the diversity, function and development of spores and pollen grains, publishing numerous academic papers on the subject. In 1987 he was awarded the Linnean Society’s Trail-Crisp Award for an outstanding contribution to biological microscopy and in 1990 he was appointed Keeper of Botany. From 1999 to 2013 he was Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh where he championed two causes he is passionate about: plant conservation and engaging the public with science. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2001. He currently Chairs Botanic Gardens Conservation International and the Darwin Expert Committee.