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Prof. John Ongayo Kokwaro

Prof. John Ongayo Kokwaro

B.Sc. (Addis Ababa), M. Sc., Ph.D. (Uppsala), F.L.S., FKNAS, FAAS

Professor of Botany, University of Nairobi. School of Biological Sciences, P.O Box 30197 - 00100, Nairobi.

Prof. Kokwaro was born in Gem, Siaya District in 1940. After his early education in Kisumu and Bungoma Missionary College in Uganda, he joined Addis Ababa University where he studied for B.Sc. degree in Agriculture. He was awarded a Swedish Government postgraduate scholarship in 1966 and joined the University of Uppsala where he undertook research projects in systematic botany for both his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. He returned to Kenya briefly in 1968 for his field work, and joined the teaching staff of the Department of Botany at the University of Nairobi. He is a member of many national and international scientific organizations, including being Life Member and former Chairman of the East African Natural History Society (founded 1909), Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (F.L.S.) Fellow, African Academy of Sciences since 1995, Executive Director of AAS (1994 - 1996).

Prof. Kokwaro's research interest is on systematic and economic botany, particularly on East Africa plants. He has to date published over 70 publications including seven internationally recognized and read books. Included among his books are four on the Flora of Tropical East Africa, Classification of East Africa Crops and the world famous Medical Plants of East Africa. The use of different Maytenus species in traditional medicine as a cure for leukemia and other types of cancer in Kenya was first reported by Kokwaro in one of his books. Maytansine, a cancer drug was later isolated from the same plants in the United States.

Prof. John Kokwaro is an eminent Professor of Botany and a research specialist on herbal remedies at the University of Nairobi since August 1968. He is the first Kenyan to be awarded a D.Sc degree by the University of Nairobi (2008). Thesis title "Systematics and ethnobatany of selected taxa and ecosystems of East Africa".

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