Santie de Villiers Associate Professor, Biotechnology

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Santie de Villiers is a South African national living in Kenya since 2002. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, the Manager of the Pwani University Biosciences Research Centre (PUBReC) and leader of the Master’s programme in Bioinformatics associated with the Eastern Africa Network for Bioinformatics Training (EANBiT). She lectures Biotechnology, Genomics and Bioinformatics-related courses and also supervises undergraduate and post-graduate students and coordinates local, regional and international research projects and training courses. Prior to joining Pwani University, she was a senior scientist with ICRISAT-Nairobi where she worked with international collaborators and national program partners in Africa, doing research on crop Biotechnology, mostly in genomics, genetic engineering and marker assisted breeding applications of ICRISAT mandate crops (sorghum, millets, pigeonpea and groundnut). She currently coordinates a multi-institutional project on characterizing the finger millet blast pathogen in eastern Africa. She collaborates on various projects to develop genomics resources for finger millet and baobab, exploring coral reef, mangrove and seagrass metagenomics and how to characterize and combat coconut lethal yellowing disease. She is the PU co-PI of the EANBiT project which is establishing an internationally recognised harmonised regional MSc in Bioinformatics since September 2017. She further works to build excellent capacity in Genomics and Bioinformatics at PUBReC through the establishment of international research collaborations and hosting and delivering training courses with these collaborators.

research grants secured

  • NIH-H3Africa EANBiT (2017); Co-PI “Eastern Africa Network for Bioinformatics Training” - $ 1 300 000 over 5 years. NSF-BREAD ABRDC (2016);
  • Co-PI “Development of Essential Genetic and Genomic Resources for Finger Millet” - $ 1 800 000 over 4 years.
  • BMGF-PEARL II (2015); PI “Unraveling the molecular genetics of finger millet blast disease and the existing resistance for the development of high-yielding resilient varieties” –
          $ 500 000 over 4 years SLU-UFORSK (2016);
  • Co-PI “Metagenomics investigation to assess anthropogenic impact on West Indian Ocean coral reefs. An indicator of coral reef health.” - $ 300 000 over 3 year

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