100 World Class South Africans: Jill Farrant

2013-07-19 12:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Famine fighter

In 2012 Jill Farrant received a L’Oréal-Unesco Women in Science award, by some estimations just one tier below a Nobel, for her work with so-called resurrection plants.

They survive long periods in a dessicated state, having lost 95 percent of their water content, but ‘green up’ after being watered.

The goal of her research is to develop drought-tolerant crops using targeted biotechnology, attempting to ‘switch on’ genes already in the plant.

Mindful of the need to make the products of such research safe, Farrant is also chairing a study by the SA Academy of Sciences to assess biosafety and biosecurity in this country (the findings will be published in 2014).

By the time Farrant came to study these Lazarus-like plants, their existence had been noted but little understood.

Nobody realised their potential forpreventing famine.

Her personal story has a miraculous dimension too: four years ago she suffered a traumatic brain injury.

She made a full recovery – except for losing her sense of taste and smell.

Farrant may be two senses down, but she’s still the first woman in life sciences at UCT to receive the A-rating – academics who are ‘recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field’.

Back to those plants… Farrant estimates we could be about 15 years off drought-tolerant crops. When it happens, expect the Nobel committee to come knocking on her door.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.