Edavaleth Kakkat Janaki Ammal obtained her DSc (1931) and LLD (hc) (1956) from the University of Michigan, USA. Her specialization was in cytogenetics and plant geography. She was Emeritus Scientist, Centre of Advanced Studies in Botany, University of Madras; Professor of Botany, Women’s Christian College, Chennai and Maharaja’s College of Science, Thiruvananthapuram; Geneticist, Sugarcane Research Station, Coimbatore; Cytologist, Royal Horticultural Society, London; Officer on Special Duty and In-charge for re-organization of Botanical Survey of India, Allahabad; Officer on Special Duty, Chairman, Cytogenetics Discipline and Emeritus Scientist, Regional Research Laboratory, (now, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine) Jammu; Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Kashmir; and Emeritus Scientist, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai..
Academic and Research Achievements: First woman to be elected to the fellowship of INSA, Janaki Ammal was well known for her work on cytogenetical studies on sugarcane, egg plant, cymbopogon, terminalia, dhatura and dioscorea. She traced the evolution of these crops. ‘Jammu Mint’ is one of her major contributions. In addition, she did cytological studies of a number of plants. Her interests shifted to ethnobotany in later years.
Other Contributions: Janaki Ammal co-authored a monumental work Chromosome Atlas of the Cultivated Plants (Allen & Unwin). She played a primordial role in organizing botanical research in India..
Awards and Honours: Janaki Ammal received Birbal Sahni Medal (1961) and Padma Shri (1977). She was a Fellow/Member, Linnaean Society (London), Royal Geographical Society (London), Genetical Society of England, Genetical Society of America, Royal Horticultural Society (London), Botanical Society of India (Secretary, 1935-38 and President, 1960), Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (Vice-President, 1961-64), and Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (President, 1961), Sigma Xi (USA) and British Association for the Advancement of Science.