- 26 August 2014
Professor John Cooke obtained his Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Botany and his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England, followed by a graduate qualification in Education from the University of Birmingham.
Since starting as a lecturer in 1973 he has held posts at universities in England, South Africa and now Botswana. Professor Cooke took up a professorship and Head of the
Department of Biology at University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal) in Durban in 1992. In the past five years before coming to Botswana, he was Dean of Science and Agriculture and Senior Professor of Environmental Biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This is one of the largest faculties of science in Africa with over 250 academic staff and 5 000 students. He currently holds a Professor Emeritus position at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
As a research scientist Professor Cooke has broad interests in Applied Ecology and has presented graduate courses and published original research in the areas of Ecotoxicology, the Ecological Restoration of Contaminated Land, and in Ethnobotany- particularly of
medicinal plants. From his research and with his Masters and Doctoral students he has written 65 publications as peer-reviewed chapters in books and papers in international science journals. In addition he has written 39 consultancy reports for industry and made over 60 presentations at international scientific conferences and educational workshops. He has also served as a referee for many international journals and as external examiner for doctoral thesis at international universities.
Professor Cooke is a dedicated teacher and strongly motivated as an educationalist and has played a significant role in higher education policy debates in England and in post-apartheid South Africa. Professor Cooke has given freely of his time over the last 19 years to serve on many national committees in South Africa, including the National Programme Accreditation Committee for the Council for Higher Education, the Qualifications and Standards Committee of the South African Qualifications Authority and various policy review committees of the South African Vice Chancellors Association (now Higher Education South Africa). In Botswana he has contributed to a number of new national policies for science, research and innovation, and for research in tertiary education institutions.