I was appointed as a Lecturer at Keele University in 1987 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2005. I obtained a BA (Hons) in Applied Biology from Cambridge University in 1981 and then went on to complete my PhD on "The ecology of thrips in flowers" at Cambridge University in 1984.

The award of a Rothmans Fellowship allowed me to do post-doctoral research on thrips at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute (now Waite Campus), University of Adelaide, South Australia in 1985. Further post-doctoral research was supported by a Research Fellowship from Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Research and scholarship

William Kirk in Greenhouse Research interests

My main research interests are the biology and ecology of thrips, with a view to exploiting this knowledge to develop novel means of managing thrips as pests in agriculture and horticulture. I also carry out research on the foraging behaviour of bees and have kept honeybees for many years. My latest book on "Plants for Bees" is a comprehensive guide to the plants that benefit the bees of the British Isles. I am currently a council member of the International Bee Research Association, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Life Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society and a Fellow of the Linnean Society.

Members of the Thrips Research Group

Dr Clare Sampson (Honary Research Fellow)

Dr Anca Covaci

Mr Lekia Kumbe

Current research projects

1. Improving integrated pest management of thrips in soft fruit. AHDB 2020-2022.

2. Improving food safety by reducing pesticide residues: developing a pheromone alternative to insecticides for control of thrips on legumes in Kenya (SAFARI). GCRF/BBSRC.

3. Novel delivery of phytochemicals for sustainable crop protection. Newton Fund BBSRC-FAPESP Joint Award 2019-2021.

4. Improving traps for thrips and whiteflies.

5. Identification and role of aggregation pheromones of thrips.

Further details (CAEP Homepage)


  • LSC-10062 Biodiversity, Ecology and the Environment
  • LSC-20056 Research and Analytical Skills
  • LSC-30003 Applied Insect Ecology (Module Manager)
  • LSC-30045 Life Sciences Double Experimental Project
  • LSC-30048 Life Sciences Single Experimental Project
  • LSC-30050 Life Sciences Dissertation


School of Life Sciences,
Huxley Building,
Keele University,
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734414