Professor Brenda Wingfield has made the study of the global movement and evolution of fungal pathogens, particularly those on trees, her main research focus for the past 30 years. She was one of the founding members of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, at the University of Pretoria. She served a 7 year term as Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria. During this time she was also acting dean for a period. Prof Wingfield holds the DST-NRF SARChI research chair in Fungal Genomics. She is vice president of the Academy of Science of South Africa and the Secretary General of the International Society of Plant Pathology.
Prof. Wingfield has been responsible for a number of major advances in fungal taxonomy and phylogeny, not the least of which was the introduction of DNA-based research tools to her field of research in South Africa. This has enabled her research group to identify the biology of a wide variety of tree pathogens and establish itself as one of the foremost in the study of distribution and population dynamics of tree pathogens using DNA markers. She pioneered fungal genomics at the University of Pretoria where she was responsible for the first fungal genome to be sequenced in Africa. She is particularly interested in mating systems in Ascomycetes. Her success as a researcher is reflected in the internationally recognised work of many of her past PhD students. She has trained many Honours, Master’s and PhD students and has contributed considerably to bringing more female graduates into the research field.