Professor Himla Soodyall is Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and Research Professor in Human Genetics at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits);. She is responsible for ground-breaking genetic research into the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa in which her studies have identified some of the oldest DNA found in living people today, adding weight to the theory that modern humans evolved in the area now known as southern Africa.

Professor Soodyal was awarded the National Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze; for her contribution to science. She was elected member of the ASSAf Council in 2011 and appointed General Secretary in 2014. In this position she has been active in drafting of several strategies to promote emerging scholarship in South Africa.

Professor Soodyall is a profiled ambassador for science in South Africa and internationally, with experience in research and a knowledge of governance and public administration, as well as engagement at all levels of community in Africa and abroad.