Dr Jeanne DE WAAL (South Africa)

Throughout her research career Jeanne focused on finding environmentally friendly solutions for pest management in commercial agriculture. The integration of these solutions at farm level ensures the safe and sustainable production of food to meet market requirements and help feed a growing population.

PhD in Agriculture, Entomology and Conservation Ecology

Current position: Technical Manager at Philagro SA (Pty) Ltd., South Africa

Research focus: integrated pest management, commercial agriculture, nematology, entomology, biological control

Jeanne was selected as one of the Top 10 Women in Science in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the L’Oréal/UNESCO-Women in Science Programme. She holds numerous bursaries and also a Golden Key Chapter Award for outstanding Academic Achievement. She was also selected as the best National Female Post Graduate Student as part of the National Department of Trade and Industry’s South African Development Programme.

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2010):

University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Research focus: sustainable agriculture

Jeanne de Waal hails from the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology at the University of Stellenbosch in her native South Africa, where she earned both her Bachelors and her Masters Degree in the field of Agriculture with a focus in entomology.     

She has received numerous student awards including South Africa’s National Department of Trade and Industry Technology Award plus the Golden Key Chapter Award for outstanding academic achievement and community involvement. She also won student grants to attend the 5th International Congress of Nematology in Brisbane, Australia and The Society of Invertebrate Pathologys Annual Meeting which was held in Turkey. Ms de Waal currently works as a student research assistant at Nemlab, a diagnostic laboratory located in Durbanville that analyses soil and plant material. At the same time, she is also pursuing her PhD at the University of Stellenbosch, continuing her studies in agriculture with a focus in the biological control of insect pests in commercial agriculture. Besides her scientific work, Ms de Waal has tutored students through the Anna Foundation, an NGO that provides academic, social and environmental support to disadvantaged schools and communities.

Ms de Waal’s doctoral work is a continuation of her earlier research about the use of entomopathogenic nematodes (roundworms that feed on insects) as an alternative biological pest management tool to the traditional pest control approach which is based on chemical insecticides. Their research team’s work in this area has been pioneer research in South Africa and included the isolation, identification and characterization of nematode isolates recovered from South African soils.

Ms de Waal has already published and submitted several peer-reviewed papers on the subject. Her goal is an integrated approach to pest management, whereby cultural practices can be combined with biologically intensive ways of pest control to effectively manage pest insects in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner in commercial agriculture.

In addition to her overall qualifications in the area of biology-based pest control, the jury noted the broad spectrum of entomological knowledge and analytical methods Ms de Waal has acquired.

“I believe that Germany’s economic success can be attributed to its practical and innovative approach of incorporating sustainability into society through education and communication – and linking international efforts to furthermore encourage sustainability,” says Ms de Waal. She expects to learn more about how this is achieved during her visit to the country as part of the Green Talent Forum. During the forum, she also hopes to initiate joint research efforts between Germany and South Africa specific to her field of research.