Meet Prof Jennifer Thomson

Why OWSD membership is important

You can help to shape the future of South Africa by contributing to conversations and actions that advance gender equality and equity, with a specific emphasis on the contributions, aspirations, needs and abilities of women in science, technology and innovation. Only by joining OWSD can you make a difference for yourself, your friends and colleagues and to the next generation of young people.


What inspires me

When I was a young woman starting out in science I made a conscious decision not to have children as, in those days (1970s), that was the only way for me to realize my full academic potential. I don’t want other women to have to make that decision.

Jennifer A. Thomson

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 served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation of the South African Minister of Science and Technology (2002-2018) and is on the Independent Science and Partnership Council of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). She is the President of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).