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Jill Farrant is a full Professor and holds a South African Research Chair in “Systems Biology Studies on Plant Desiccation Tolerance for Food Security” in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Afric. She is an acknowledged world leader in the field of plant desiccation tolerance (holding a rarely given A rated status by the South African National Research Foundation), working on both seeds and resurrection plants. Her research is multidisciplinary, utilizing techniques involved molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and physiology to understand protection mechanisms, and regulation thereof, associated with desiccation tolerance, and those associated with biotechnology to test informed genetic alteration(s) for the production of extremely drought-tolerant crops. She has received considerable recognition for her research, having achieved 10 national and international awards, including the L’Oreal-UNESCO award in life sciences (2012) that ‘recognizes women whose exceptional careers in science have opened up new and sometimes revolutionary ways of improving human well-being and the EPFL WISH Foundation Erma Hamburger award (2015) for ‘ground breaking work in phytology and being a exceptional role model to plant biologists world wide’. Jill has 145 peer-reviewed publications, 16 book chapters, over 200 conference proceedings, and has graduated 36 MSc students and 30 PhD students during the 27 years she has been an academic. She is a Fellow of 4 prestigious societies and acts in Editorial capacity for 3 International Journals. Passionate about the upliftment of women and disadvantaged students, she has served and serves as President of the Jury for deciding on Scholarships for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa, disseminated by the UNESCO L’Oreal For Women In Science Program. She has also served for many years as Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology’s Equity Development Program. Her work has been the subject of several local and international documentaries, which can be found on her website http://www.mcb.uct.ac.za/mcb/people/staff/academic/farrant.
Her research was also featered in the podcast style documentary “H20- the molecule that made us” https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/molecule-that-made-us/home/features/resurrection-plants/ that has recently won the Jackson Wild and Wildscreens award for best documentary in 2020.