Kevin Gould

Prof Kevin Gould profile picture

Plant Biology, Associate Dean of Science-Academic Undergradu School of Biological Sciences


Teaching in 2020

Personal Bio

PGDip Victoria University of Wellington │PhD University of Manchester │BSc (Hons) University of Bath

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I’d become a botanist. Indeed, when I enrolled in my first degree in Applied Biology at the University of Bath, I was 100% certain that I’d end up specialising as a zoologist. It took the combination of a hauntingly bad lab exercise involving a cockroach dissection, and a superb lecturer with an inescapable enthusiasm for botany to persuade me that plants were really cool! I changed tack, abruptly, irreversibly, and have never regretted that decision for an instant.

Following an enjoyable three years in Manchester studying pea leaf morphogenesis for my PhD, I moved to California for a two year postdoc position at Riverside, where I researched stamen development in Easter lilies. I then saw an advert for a position as junior lecturer in the Botany Department at Auckland University, in a far-away country at the bottom of the world…

During my sixteen years at Auckland, two people had a dramatic influence on my career. My mentor, Professor Peter Lovell, was the first person to encourage me to explore new ways of teaching; many years later, I was awarded a national award for tertiary teaching excellence for innovative approaches to teaching first year plant biology. During a sabbatical in Miami in 1994, Professor David Lee introduced me to the intriguing world of anthocyanin pigments; this has become the mainstay of my research, for which I was given a Roger Slack Award in 2007, and the Leonard Cockayne Lecture Award in 2012.

In 2004, I took up an Associate Professor position in the Department of Botany at Otago University, and then in 2007 I moved to Victoria University of Wellington. My current role as Professor in Plant Biology puts me in the privileged position of being paid to follow two of my life's passions: to study plants, and to help students learn about plants. And I continue to learn myself; in 2016, I proudly graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education Learning & Teaching , and I’m now studying art and learning yoga!

Research Interests

My group’s research has focused on the structural and physiological mechanisms through which plants tolerate environmental stressors. Recent projects have included:

  • role of betacyanin pigments in salinity tolerance;
  • roles of anthocyanin pigments in the photoprotection, UV-B screening, and thermotolerance of leaves, stems and peduncles;
  • foliar aposematism as an anti-herbivore defence;
  • Batesian mimicry in plants;
  • free radicals and antioxidant defences in shoots and roots under stress;
  • evaluation of antioxidants from native plant extracts and traditional Maori foods as nutritional supplements for humans.

In addition to these topics, I conduct research in teaching and learning, focusing especially on improving the first-year student experience of tertiary science.

Visit the Plant Ecophysiology research group


Jordheim, M., Calcott, K., Gould, K. S., Davies, K. M., Schwinn, K. E., & Andersen, O. M. (2016). High concentrations of aromatic acylated anthocyanins found in cauline hairs in Plectranthus ciliatus. PHYTOCHEMISTRY, 128, 27-34. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2016.04.007

Yager, K. G., Schaefer, H. M., & Gould, K. S. (2016). The significance of shared leaf shape in Alseuosmia pusilla and Pseudowintera colorata. BOTANY, 94(7), 555-564. doi:10.1139/cjb-2016-0049

Mawalagedera, S. M. M. R., Ou, Z. -Q., McDowell, A., & Gould, K. S. (2016). Effects of boiling and in vitro gastrointestinal digestion on the antioxidant activity of Sonchus oleraceus leaves. FOOD & FUNCTION, 7(3), 1515-1522. doi:10.1039/c5fo01508a

Menzies, I. J., Youard, L. W., Lord, J. M., Carpenter, K. L., van Klink, J. W., Perry, N. B., . . . Gould, K. S. (2016). Leaf colour polymorphisms: A balance between plant defence and photosynthesis. Journal of Ecology, 104(1), 104-113. doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12494

Jay-Allemand, C., Tattini, M., & Gould, K. S. (2015). New evidence for the functional roles of secondary metabolites in plant-environment interactions Special issue of Environmental and Experimental Botany (EEB). ENVIRONMENTAL AND EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY, 119, 1-3. doi:10.1016/j.envexpbot.2015.06.011

View more publications at ResearchGate


Teaching in 2020