Our People

Jennifer Thomson

Council Member
Emeritus Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Jennifer Thomson (PhD Rhodes) is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town.

She held a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard, was Associate Professor in Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand, visiting scientist at MIT, and Director of the Laboratory for Molecular and Cell Biology for the CSIR, before becoming Head of the Department of Microbiology at UCT in 1988.

She won the L’Oreal/UNESCO prize for Women in Science for Africa in 2004 and has an Honorary Doctorate from the Sorbonne University.

Her research field is the development of genetically modified maize resistant to the African endemic maize streak virus and tolerant to drought.

She has published three books on Genetically Modified Organisms: Genes for Africa, Seeds for the Future, and Food for Africa, and is a frequent speaker at international meetings, including the World Economic Forum and the United Nations.

She is a member of the board (previously Chair) of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), based in Nairobi and Vice-Chair of ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of AgriBiotech Applications).

She serves on the National Advisory Council on Innovation of the South African Minister of Science and Technology.

She is the President of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and chairs the South African chapter.