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Jill Farrant    

Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town

A professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, Jill Farrant researches the remarkable (and little known) world of resurrection plants. These are plants that can survive extreme drought, “resurrecting” when moistened or irrigated. If we can better understand their natural preservation mechanisms and their key protectants, she suggests, it could help us develop more drought-tolerant crops to feed populations in increasingly dry and arid climates around the world. Her research may also have medical applications.

Farrant was the African/Arab States recipient of the 2012 L'Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science, 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." Subsequently, she has been invited to give talks and lectures on the international stage (TED talk, 2015; TEDx Cape Town, 2015; BioVision, 2013; the prestigious Falling Walls conference in Berlin,2013), has been awarded and nominated for numerous awards and is a fellow of the The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). She has been awarded and maintained an A-rating by the National Research Foundation (the first female researcher at UCT ever to receive such a rating) and was made a member of the University of Cape Town College of Fellows. After holding the UCT Research Chair of Molecular Plant Physiology of Desiccation Tolerance for several years, she was awarded the NRF SARChI Chair in 2015 which she holds at the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UCT.

Farrant is also a recovering alcoholic, a fact that she is "happy to be public about...in order to show what someone in recovery can achieve."

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