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Dr Himla Soodyall takes the reins at Academy of Sciences of SA


Dr Himla Soodyall will take the reins as Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa on 1 November 2018. She is succeeding outgoing president Professor Roseanne Diab, who is retiring.

Prof Soodyall is the Director of the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit, which was established in 2001 by the Medical Research Council of South Africa in partnership with the National Health Laboratory Service and the University of the Witwatersrand.

She is also a Principal Investigator, representing sub-Saharan Africa, on the five-year global Genographic Project, conceived by the National Geographic Society in partnership with the IBM Corporation and the Waitt Foundation.

Dr Soodyall spent four years at Pennsylvania State University in the US doing postdoctoral research with Mark Stoneking, before returning to South Africa in 1996 to set up her own laboratory at the South African Institute for Medical Research (now the National Health Laboratory Service).

Her current research focuses on human populations and the evolutionary genetics of sub-Saharan African and Indian Ocean populations and uncovering population histories and affinities. She was chosen by the Department of Education as one of South Africa's Living Treasures in 1994 in a campaign celebrating 10 years of democracy.

In 1999 she received the President's Award from South Africa's National Research Foundation and the Wits Vice-Chancellor's Award for Research. In 2005, her contribution to science in South Africa was recognised at the highest national level when she was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze) by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.

Dr Soodyall has published more than 45 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and chapters and edited the book The Prehistory of Africa, published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in 2006.

She holds a B.Sc (Honours) from the University of Durban-Westville and an M.Sc in biotechnology and Ph.D from Wits. She


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