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Professor Jill M. Farrant
Research Chair - Molecular Physiology of Plant Desiccation Tolerance | Telephone +27 21 650 4496 | Facsimile +27 21 689 7573

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Professor Jill Farrant is a leader in the field of plant responses to water deficit stress (drought/desiccation tolerance), receiving international recognition for her research. She was the African/Arab States recipient of the 2012 L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (download the press release), one of only five scientists worldwide who were selected by an international jury as "researchers who will have a major impact on society and help light the way to the future". She was invited in 2013 to give addresses at both BioVision and the prestigious Falling Walls conference in Berlin and is a fellow of the The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). In 2009, she was awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation (the first female researcher at UCT ever to receive such a rating) as well as being made a member of the University of Cape Town College of Fellows.
A recipient of the Department of Science and Technology's Distinguished Woman in Science for 2010, Prof. Farrant's research has contributed to the understanding of mechanisms used by resurrection plants to tolerate desiccation. This knowledge has been fundamental to identifying characteristics (genes) that might be important for use in bioengineering of crops for improved drought tolerance. At the MSc and PhD level, she studied the unusual desiccation-sensitive (recalcitrant) seeds of Avicennia marina, comparing them to desiccation-tolerant (orthodox) seeds to identify characteristics that are important for desiccation tolerance. On arrival at the University of Cape Town, Prof. Farrant initiated work on resurrection plants. Her research encompasses physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, and focuses on several different species of resurrection plant, making comparisons amongst them. In 2007, after serving as head of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department for the previous three years, she was awarded the research chair of plant physiology and molecular biology. She also currently serves on the scientific board of the Agropolis Foundation, Montpellier, France, the TWAS Award Committee and is the panel chair of ASSAf Committee assessing biosafety and biosecurity in South Africa.

Falling Walls 2013: Berlin, Germany Breaking the Wall of Famine

BioVision World Life Sciences Forum 2013 presentation: Lyon, France


Jill Farrant: The Resurrection Plant - and Woman (Daily Maveick, 12 April 2012)

Falling Walls Conference: Unique Access to Breakthrough Research
The Falling Walls Conference is an annual global gathering of forward thinking individuals from 75 countries organized by the Falling Walls Foundation. Each year, 20 of the world's leading scientists are invited to Berlin to present their current breakthrough research. The aim of the conference is to:

- Connect science with the innovation industry, politics, media and culture
- Identify trends, opportunities and solutions for global challenges
- Make research understandable to a broad audience
- Inspire people to break down the walls that we face today.

Left: Falling Walls Conference 2013: press interview