Young SA scientists to engage with Nobel Laureates

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 24 Jun 2024
The Lindau Meetings provide a unique opportunity for young researchers to engage with Nobel Laureates.
The Lindau Meetings provide a unique opportunity for young researchers to engage with Nobel Laureates.

As South Africa celebrates Youth Month, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has announced that eight young South African postgraduates will attend the 73rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to physics.

Hosted in Lindau, Germany, from 30 June to 5 July, the conference will gather approximately 600 young scientists from across the globe, alongside 30 Nobel Laureates.

This year’s scientific programme will focus on three key themes: quantum physics and quantum technologies, physics-based solutions to the energy challenge, and artificial intelligence in physics.

The young students come from higher education institutions, including the University of Venda, University of Cape Town (UCT), North West University (NWU) and the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Funded by the DSI and implemented by the DSI’s entity, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the official partner of the Lindau Foundation nominating young scientists to attend the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

“The meetings are a forum for young scientists to engage substantively with Nobel Laureates on research and overall career management aspects,” the department says.

ASSAf last week hosted a pre-travel event, where the eight young scientists engaged with alumni from previous meetings to learn from their experiences and the opportunities that arise through participating in these meetings.

“They will also receive training in science communication for effective communication of scientific information to non-specialist audiences,” the department adds.

DSI acting director-general Daan du Toit notes the department’s pride in these eight exceptional young locals, saying this was an achievement and testament to the calibre of the country’s emerging scientific talent.

“The Lindau Meetings provide a unique opportunity for these young researchers to engage with Nobel Laureates and fellow participants from around the world, fostering invaluable connections, exchanging ideas, and gaining insights from some of the brightest scientific minds,” Du Toit says.

He believes that participation in such a globally-renowned event highlights South Africa’s commitment to nurturing excellence in science and innovation, reinforcing the importance of investing in the next generation of scientists and supporting their endeavours to meaningfully contribute to society.

“Support for young South African scientists to participate in the Lindau Meetings and other international young scientists’ fora forms part of the department’s strategic investment in science diplomacy capacities.

“The connections that young South African scientists foster during these meetings will equip them well for future international collaborations and global knowledge networks, reinforcing global solidarity through science,” he adds.

The youngsters who will attend the annual conference are:

  • Dr Bambesiwe Mbesi May, PhD graduate in chemistry at Unisa.
  • Tsebesebe Nkgaphe Tebatjo, PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at UCT.
  • Sarah McKee, PhD candidate at NWU based at the South African National Space Agency.
  • Dr Bertus Van Heerden, post-doctoral researcher in biophysics at the University of Pretoria.
  • Modjadji Rebecca Letsoalo, Master’s student in physics, focusing on material sciences, at the University of Venda.
  • Anna Chrysostomou, PhD candidate in high-energy physics theory at the University of Johannesburg and the Claude Bernard University Lyon 1.
  • Dr Mosima Bernice Kgomo, post-doctoral research fellow at Unisa.
  • Mosidi Mokoena, Master’s candidate at UCT and hosted by the biophotonics research group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.