March 21, 2023

India’s First Woman PhD in Botany And Finest plant scientists – Janaki Ammal.

India’s First Woman PhD in Botany And Finest plant scientists – She Is The Reason Your Sugar Tastes Sweeter – Janaki Ammal.

Janaki Ammal was an Indian botanist who conducted scientific research in cytogenetics and phytogeography. Her most notable work involves those on sugarcane and the eggplant. She has collected various valuable plants of medicinal and economic value from the rain forests of Kerala

EK Janaki Ammal was born in Tellichery (now Thallassery) in Kerala on November 4, 1897. Her father, Dewan Bahadur EK Krishnan, was a sub-judge in what was then the Madras Presidency. A man with a keen interest in the natural sciences, Janaki’s father would correspond regularly with scholars of the time and maintain descriptive notes about his developing garden.

Race and Science in twentieth century India

E.K. Janaki Ammal career started as a botanist and cytologist when she worked with Cyril Dean Darlington at the John Innes Horticultural Institute in London from 1940-45. It was here that she studied the origin and evolution of cultivated plants resulting in the Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants which she co-authored with Cyril Dean Darlington and which became an important source for cytological work on the economic plants of the world. On her return to India in 1948 she became a leading scientist of the nation who wanted to create a national system of genetic science.

First director of the Central Botanical Laboratory

She was able to do this as the first director of the Central Botanical Laboratory of the Government of India at Lucknow. She received several accolades becoming Fellow of the Linnean society of London, the Royal Geographical Society, the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Royal Asiatic Society, London and the Indian Academy of Sciences. In fact, Janaki Ammal was one of the founding members of the Academy, and the first woman member.

National Women Bioscientist Award (Young Category)

The young category award is given to women scientists below 45 years of age who have made significant contributions in basic and applied research in the areas of biosciences and biotechnology including basic research, agricultural, biomedical and environmental sciences with potential for product and technology development. The Award carries a cash prize of Rs 1.00 lakh with citation and a gold medal and Research Grant of Rs 5.00 lakhs per annum for a period of 5 years.


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