When Chinsamy was growing up, her dream was to be a high-school science teacher. Her father, however, encouraged her to get a degree before undertaking a teaching diploma. After matric, she was accepted to study a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits); but the iter to be accepted to Wits was long for Professor Chinsamy because of the legislated racism of the apartheid state. Infact, black students could not get automatic acceptance to a ‘white’ university such as Wits.
Today, Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, head of the Department of Biological Sciences at UCT, is an internationally recognised expert in the palaeosciences.
In 1995, Prof. Chinsamy-Turan received an NRF President Award, in 2005 she won the South African Woman of the Year Award, which acknowledges her contribution to science both in terms of research and science communication to the wider public. In 2005, she also won the “Distinguished Women Scientist Award” from the South African Department of Science and Technology, and in 2012 she was awarded the NRF Transformation Award. In 2013 she was awarded The World Academy of Science’s (TWAS), sub-saharan prize for the Popularisation of Science. Professor Chinsamy-Turan has published extensively – both in international scientific journals as well as in the popular press. She is former President of the Association of South African Women in Science and Engineering (SA WISE), former Deputy President of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and she has also served as Director of Iziko Museums Natural History Collections (which includes the SA Museum).
Prof. Chinsamy-Turan currently Chairs the Advisory Boards of Scifest Africa, the biggest science festival in Africa and she is a member of the Advisory Board the Cape Town Science Centre, and in addition she is Chair of the Romer-Simpson Prize Committee of the US-based Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, and serves as a board member for the Jurassic Foundation (US). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South African, the University of Cape Town and The Word Academy of Sciences.