Stephen Boyden graduated in Veterinary Science in London in 1947. From 1948 to 1965 he carried out research in immunology in Cambridge, New York, Paris, Copenhagen and Canberra.
From 1965 until his formal retirement at the end of 1990 he pioneered work on human ecology and biohistory at the Australian National University (ANU). In the 1970s he initiated and was Director of the Hong Kong Human Ecology Program – the first comprehensive attempt to study the ecology of a city. For some years after that he was a consultant for UNESCO on urban ecology. In 1973 he introduced undergraduate courses at ANU in Human Ecology, and these have survived to the present day. He has continued to work in this field since he retired.
He has published nine books on human ecology and biohistory, five of them since his retirement. He is at present a Professor Emeritus at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU.