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About Janki Ammal | Indian Scientist

Janaki Ammal

Janaki Ammal Edavalath kakkat was born in 4 November 1897 and died in 7 February 1984. she was in Indian botanist who conducted scientific research in cytogenetics and phytogeography. She has collected various valuable plants of medicinal and economic value from the rainforest of Kerala.

Janaki Ammal
Janki Ammal
An older photograph of Janaki Ammal
Born4 November 1897
Tellicherry, Madras Presidency, British India
Died7 February 1984 (aged 86)
Madras, Tamil Nadu
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Scientific career
FieldsBotany, Cytology
InstitutionsUniversity Botany Laboratory, Madras John Innes Centre
ThesisChromosome Studies in Nicandra physaloides
Janki Ammal


She schooled at scared hearts girls HS, Tellicherry, Kerala and received her bachelor's degree in botany at Queen Mary college in Madras. She also did BSc honours in botany in presidency college at Madras and after that she received babbar scholar in MS University of Michigan in 1925. Her first Oriental Barber fellow in D.Sc/Ph.D and honorary LLD at University of Michigan in 1931.


She was lecturer in women's Christian college in Madras in 1921 to 1923. She was the first woman in the US to earn a PhD in botany, University of Michigan in 1926. After that she was professor in women's Christian college in Madras in 1926 to 1929. She joins John Innes institute in merton at London in 1931 to 1932. She also professor of botany in maharajas college of science at trivandrum in 1932 to 1934. She was participant in 7th international Congress of genetics at Edinburgh in 1939. She stays on in UK and work as assistant of cytologist and continuous her work as cytologist at the Royal horticultural society at Wesley and became their first salaried women staff member in 1945 to 1951. She created her first hybrid flower at the 'Magnolia Cobus Janaki Ammal' after that she returned to India under jawaharlal nehru's request and takes post as officer on special duty and in-charge for re-organisation of botonical survey of India BSI at Allahabad in 1951. She Received a post in Emeritus scientist in bhabha atomic research Centre at Trombay, Mumbai.

Awards and honours

she was elected fellow of the Indian academy of sciences in 1935, and of the Indian national science academy in 1957. The government of India conferred the Padma Shri on her in 1977. The ministry of environment and forestry of the government of India instituted the national award of taxonomy in honey in 2000.


Ammal was an Indian scientist of extraordinary accomplishment in the field of botany taxonomy and cytogenetics and has been awarded the highest civilian award scope Padma Shri by the government of India in recognition of her work. she is highly regarded by scientist for her cytogenetical studies on sugarcane, egg plant, cymbopogon, terminalia and dioscorea. she is revered in world science institution and universities for her monumental cytology reference book The chromosome of cultivated plant, which she Co-authored with eminent psychologist, C.D. Darlington. After her graduation with botany Janki travels to Michigan for her Masters in 1924, under the prestigious Barbour scholarship and receives her master's degree in botany in 1926. She returned to India to work as a professor in women's Christian college, Madras for a few years. After she go back to Michigan for her further studies. In 1924 she moves to coimbatore to work there as a geneticist at the sugarcane breeding institute, creating several intergeneric hybrids. In 1962, as officer on special duty at RR laboratory in Jammu and Kashmir she walks on successfully propagating another plant, the Jammu mint from a partially sterile Japanese strain.
she also holds another flower to her memory in 2018, to honour her remarkable career and contribution to plant science, two Indian plant breedes girija and veeru viraraghavan bred a new rose, which they named E.K. janaki Ammal.

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