Born 29 December 1939 in Johannesburg. Professor Patricia Berjak held a B.Sc. Hons (1st Class) in Biochemistry from WITS University and a PhD on the ageing of stored maize seeds from the (then) University of Natal. She was recognized internationally for her pioneering and fundamental studies on seed recalcitrance.
Her early achievements included five papers from her doctorate thesis being published in international literature; the findings of which contributed to a major chapter in the definitive book Seed Viability by E.H. Roberts.
Professor Berjak mentored many young researchers across the spectrum of race and gender. Since 1978 she supervised (to graduation) 37 MSc students and 16 PhD students, many of whom have gone on to establish successful scientific careers of their own, both in South Africa and abroad.
In 2005, the Darwin Initiative of the UK Government awarded her a major competitive grant in collaboration with the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
Professor Berjak established a world-class research group in the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; she was the Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Associate at the University a position she held until her passing in 2015.