Professor Steven J.R. Underhill | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Professor Steven J.R. Underhill

PhD Qld., BSc(Hons) Qld.

  • Director, Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research
  • Professor, Horticulture
+61 7 5456 5142 or 0412 140 032
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Steven Underhill

Professor Steven Underhill specialises in subtropical and tropical postharvest horticulture systems in developing countries, based on poverty alleviation and livelihood development outcomes.

His current research program focuses on the South Pacific (Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Kiribati) where he works with smallholder farmers to improve their postharvest handling and quality management systems. Working closely with colleagues at the Fiji National University, the University of the South Pacific, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and the World Vegetable Centre, Taiwan, much of his research is conducted in the Pacific.

Ongoing research covers a diversity of research topics from sensor-based postharvest handling assessments, postharvest infrared thermal imagery, smallholder farm postharvest capacity building, through to dwarfing-orientated genetic research in breadfruit. All collectively orientated towards supply chain development in transitional economies and wider food security/poverty alleviation benefits.

Prof Underhill is currently Professor of Horticulture and Director of the Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research (ACPIR) at the University of the Sunshine Coast, holds a Principal Research Fellow position at The Scientific Research Organization of Samoa, is an Adjunct Foundation Professor of Horticulture at the School of Natural Resources and Applied Sciences, Solomon Islands National University, and an adjunct Professor of Horticulture at the Fiji National University.

In 2010, he was awarded an Australian Day medal for services to Queensland Primary Industry.
He is currently a member of:

  • International Society for Horticultural Science commission – Quality and Postharvest Horticulture
  • International Society for Horticultural Science working group – Litchi, longan and other sapindaceae fruit



Research Grants

Since joining UniSC in July 2010, Prof Underhill has been progressively developing an international portfolio of research projects.

Project name and investigators
 Funding       body
Adopting a gender-inclusive participatory approach to reducing horticultural food loss in the Pacific - Molimau-Samosoni, S., Underhill, S., Patolo, S., Georgeou, N., Kumar, S., Atu, L. and de Klerk, S. 2022 - 2024 ACIAR


Enhanced fruit systems for Tonga and Samoa (Phase 2): Community based citrus production - Underhill, S.

2021 - 2024 ACIAR


Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative Phase 2 (PARDI 2) - Underhill, S., Mahony, I., Southgate, P., Manley, M., Waqairatu, S., Bibi, P., Schouten, C., Simos, T., Addinsall, C., McKenzie-Reur, V., Lal, M. and Kumar, M.

2017 - 2021 ACIAR


University of the South Pacific twinning scheme - Underhill, S.

2020 ACIAR


COVID-19 impacts on food access in the Pacific - Underhill, S. 2020 ACIAR


COVID-19 impacts on food access in Samoa and Tonga - Singh-Peterson, L., Prasad, S., Ika, E., Hunter, T.D., Nath, P., Underhill, S. and Halavatau, S.

2020 IFAD


Improving regional institutions' capacity on postharvest management - Underhill, S.

2019 - 2020 UN-FAO


Enhanced fruit production and postharvest handing systems for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga - Underhill, S.

2015 - 2020 ACIAR


Gathering evidence and supporting multi-stakeholder engagement on the role of diets and food systems in the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases in Pacific Island countries (Fiji) - Craven, D., Burkhart, S. and Underhill, S.

2020 UN-FAO


Assessment study on post-harvest loss along Tonga's fruit and vegetable chains - Underhill, S.

2019 UN-FAO


Improving banana crop productivity in northern Australia - postharvest - Nguyen, H.H., Zhou, Y. and Underhill, S. 2017 - 2020 CRC


Analyzing post-harvest loss along Tonga's fruit and vegetable chains - Underhill, S.

2018 UN-FAO


Policy measures for the reduction of food loss/waste along fruit and vegetable value chains (Solomon Islands) - Underhill, S. 2017 - 2018 UN-FAO


Towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable farming systems in North-western Vietnam - Underhill, S.

2018 ACIAR


Scoping review and capacity needs assessment of school food programmes in the Pacific Islands - Burkhart, S. and Underhill, S.

2017 - 2018 UN-FAO


Improving the capacity of smallholder farmers to market a consistent supply of safe, quality food - Underhill, S.

2016-2018 UN-FAO


Bundaberg resilience 2017 - Singh-Peterson, L. and Underhill, S.

2017 Bundaberg Council


Strengthening post-harvest management capacities of pineapple producers (Vanuatu) - Underhill, S. 2016-2017 FAP


Postharvest losses and food safety risks in Samoa’s fruit and vegetable chains - Underhill, S.

2015 - 2017 UN-FAO


Supporting a diverse and sustainable fruit industry in Tonga - Singh-Peterson, L., Manuel, P., Berrell, L., Landman, W., Underhill, S., Halavatau, S. and Manu, V. 2014 - 2015 ACIAR


Improving the capacity for evidence-based monitoring and development - Underhill, S. and McNish, A.

2014 - 2015



Development of a mass propagation system for elite varieties of Piper methysticum (kava) - Taylor, M. and Underhill, S.

2014 - 2015



Developing an integrated participatory guarantee scheme in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable production of high-value vegetable crops - Carter, J and Underhill, S.

2011 - 2015



PARDI – Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative - Underhill S., Stringer R., Prasad B, Bryceson K., Wallace H, Southgate P.C., Hine D., Sisifa A.

2010 - 2015 ACIAR



Research areas

  • Postharvest horticulture technologies
  • Postharvest horticultural systems in developing countries
  • Food security and food loss
  • Poverty alleviation and livelihood development outcomes in the Pacific Islands
  • Agribusiness in the Pacific Islands
  • Pacific Islands

Professor Underhill provides supervision to Honours and Higher Degree by Research students.

Teaching areas

  • Pacific horticulture
  • Tropical postharvest handling technologies
  • Pacific Food Security
  • Horticultural supply chains in development countries
  • Poverty alleviation and livelihood development
  • Small-holder farming systems in developing countries
  • Sapindaceae fruits

Professor Steven Underhill's specialist areas of expertise include horticulture and agriculture of include food loss, Pacific horticulture, Pacific university partnerships and engagement.

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