I am a senior research scientist in the Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) in the Department of Molecular Biology, University of Cape Town (UCT), Cape Town, South Africa. I have 18 years of expertise in the expression of recombinant proteins/virus-like particles (VLPs) in plants using transient expression methods for the purpose of making vaccines or diagnostic reagents. I obtained my PhD at UCT in 2000 and carried out a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Professor Edward Rybicki's research group in 2001 on HIV-1 antigens, which marked the beginning of our work on the transient expression of recombinant proteins in plants. In 2004 I was appointed as Scientific Officer in the BRU and my research interest subsequently shifted to making vaccines against and diagnostic reagents for veterinary viruses. Currently, I am a co-investigator in a collaborative project with the CSIR and the Agricultural Research Council (South Africa) for producing Bluetongue and African horse sickness VLP vaccines in plants as well as on a project for chikungunya and West Nile virus diagnostic reagents and vaccines. I am also a co-investigator on a project looking into the production of Lassa, Rift Valley and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus vaccine candidates in plants. I have co-authored 15 papers in peer-reviewed journals since 2008 which are relevant to biopharming as well as a book chapter on plant-produced virus-like particles in 2014. I am also a co-inventor on 7 patent applications for the production of novel products in plants. I have obtained funding for several projects including the production of Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever virus diagnostic reagents as well as Foot-and-mouth disease virus and African horse sickness vaccine candidates in plants. I supervise many students on the projects carried out in the BRU and while working there, have supervised 15 honours, 9 Masters and 5 PhD graduands. I am currently supervising 5 Masters and 3 PhD students.
I am also a member of the scientific advisory panel for the Virus-like Particle and Nano-particle Vaccines Conference.