Associate Professor and DST/NRF Bio-economy Research Chair, University of Cape Town

I hold a DST/NRF Research Chair on Social and Environmental Dimensions of the Bio-economy at the University of Cape Town, where I am associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science and Deputy Director of the Environmental Evaluation Unit. I have a background in the natural and social sciences and a strong interest in interdisciplinarity and policy engagement across the humanities, arts and sciences. I am passionate about bridging the gap between the theoretical dimensions of academia and the real world of environmental, social inequality and poverty challenges. Over the past twenty years I have advised governments, civil society organisations and international agencies on biodiversity issues and continue to be actively involved with NGOs in the region, serving on the Boards of Biowatch South Africa, Environmental Monitoring Group, and PhytoTrade Africa. I am also a member of the Expert Committee for the UK government's Darwin Initiative.

Research Interests

My research interests span the arena of biodiversity commercialization, use and benefit sharing; biopolitics; community rights; social justice and environmental governance, with the focus of the Chair comprising four research areas.

*access and benefit-sharing, bio-discovery and the bio-economy;
*biodiversity use and trade, indigenous plant use, traditional knowledge, rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation;
*governance, rights and the bio-economy; and
environmental and social impacts of emerging technologies.

Ongoing projects are focused on agroecology, seed and knowledge systems; responsible innovation in the bio-economy; and the commercial use of biodiversity.


  • 2013–present
    Research chair, University of Cape Town


  • 2006 
    University of Strathclyde, PhD Environmental Science
  • 1993 
    University of Cape Town, MPhil
  • 1991 
    University of Cape Town, MSc