Kate Jackson (author)

Kate Jackson (born 14 February 1972) is a Canadian herpetologist who specializes in the study of venomous snakes in Central Africa. She earned her PhD from Harvard in 2002. In her dissertation she concluded that a venom-delivery system evolved during the Miocene era, approximately 25 million years ago. And from there three separate, more sophisticated, apparatuses developed.[1]

Kate Jackson
Born14 February 1972
Toronto, Canada
Alma materHarvard

Her first trip to the region was in 1997. Jackson took an internship at the Smithsonian Institution and traveled to the Republic of Congo, starting her trip in Brazzaville. She worked in Northern Congo, but she had to cut her research trip short when a scrape on her leg became infected and she had to be evacuated for treatment in Cameroon. Despite the early end, she collected several amphibian and reptile species, seven of which had never been collected in Congo before.[2]

She received funding from the Smithsonian to return to the Republic of Congo in 2005 to continue her research. The trip was difficult, due to flooding in the area, but she collected 130 species, including a six-foot long water cobra that she carried in her backpack because they did not have a bag large enough for it.[2]

In 2009 she was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award in the history/biography category for her book on her work in Congo: Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo. Around the same time she took a sabbatical to diagnosis and recover from transverse myelitis, a neurological condition caused by a virus in the spine, mostly likely picked up on one of her African expeditions. Spinal damage had her wheelchair bound for a time.[3]

Jackson discovered a new species of snake with a team in 2015. It was named 'Radford's House Snake' and is only found in the Albertine Rift area of Africa.[4] Jackson is currently working as a Professor at Whitman College in Washington State.

Early lifeEdit

Jackson was born in Toronto on 14 February 1972. She credits her first encounter with a snake at the age of 5, as the inspiration for her career. She attended Dalhousie University for a year before transferring to the University of Toronto to study herpetology. She graduated with honors in 1994.[2]



  1. ^ Porter Brown, Nell (March–April 2006). "Nothing to Fear: Travels with a snake lover". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  2. ^ a b c Elsohn Ross, Michael (2014), A World of Her Own: 24 Amazing Women Explorers and Adventurers
  3. ^ Tachibana, Chris (October 1, 2010). "Congo Calling". The Scientist. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  4. ^ "Professor Kate Jackson on team that discovers a new species of snake". Whitman College. March 11, 2015. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  5. ^ Ross, Michael Elsohn (March 1, 2014). A world of her own : 24 amazing women explorers and adventurers. Chicago, ILL: Chicago Review Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-1613744383. Retrieved 23 January 2019.