Communities in ASSAf

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Advancing Science in South Africa through High Performance Computing, Connectivity and Data Services
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Webinar hosted by ASSAf on 4 April 2024. In today's rapidly evolving landscape of science and research, the demand for cutting-edge technological solutions has never been more crucial. High-Performance Computing (HPC), reliable Internet connectivity, and efficient data management services form the backbone of groundbreaking advancements in various scientific domains. Research and science are undergoing a transformative shift, transitioning into increasingly data-driven disciplines. Within this contemporary landscape, the generation, analysis, and interpretation of vast datasets have become fundamental components of scientific inquiry. Researchers across diverse fields harness the power of data to uncover patterns, correlations, and insights that were previously inaccessible. This data-driven paradigm not only accelerates the pace of discovery but also facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration, enabling scientists to draw connections and make discoveries that transcend traditional boundaries. As technology continues to advance, the ability to navigate and extract meaningful knowledge from large datasets is becoming a defining factor in the success and impact of scientific endeavours. The National Research Big Data Strategy focuses on leveraging big data to advance research and innovation in various sectors. Embracing and mastering the tools of data-driven research is paramount for staying at the forefront of innovation and addressing complex challenges in today's rapidly evolving scientific landscape. Join ASSAf for this webinar to learn how the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), SANReN (South African National Research Network) and DIRISA (Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa) support data-driven science and research, which is paramount for staying at the forefront of innovation and for addressing complex challenges in today's rapidly evolving scientific landscape.
The launch of the ASSAf inclusivity initiative for gender equity and persons with disabilities as part of the Science Forum South Africa 2023 panel discussion
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Gender equity, disability and inclusivity are human rights issues, and the South African Constitution enshrines the rights of citizens at all levels. The Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 10 promote gender equality and reduced inequalities, respectively. Furthermore, the South Africa’s Decadal Plan in science, technology and innovation (STI) calls for the creation of an inclusive economy and equity ambitions set by the Gender- Responsive Planning Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework. In spite of these legislative prerogatives, initiatives to promote the participation of women and people living with disabilities are slow to produce significant change. ASSAf is no exception in this regard, with 70% of members being male academics and statistics of participation of persons with disabilities is lacking. As a result, ASSAf developed a transformation strategy which incorporated the 2019 White Paper on STI as one of many instruments to guide the organisation in prioritising inclusivity and transformation in STI, and the ASSAf Inclusivity Initiative on Gender Equity and Persons with Disabilities is one such tool. The ASSAf Inclusivity Initiative on Gender Equity and Persons with Disabilities focuses on advancing inclusive participation of persons with disabilities and women in science, technology and innovation within its Membership and within the national system of innovation (NSI). ASSAf launched the Inclusivity Initiative on Gender and Persons with Disabilities during the 2023 Science Forum South Africa in order to raise awareness on the Initiative and to seek partnerships from beyond the academic sector. It is envisioned that the Initiative will also provide ASSAf with a platform to strengthen collaborations with other stakeholders in raising awareness of and in championing solutions to curb the barriers that impede equal opportunities and access to Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) by women, young girls and, persons with disabilities within the National System of Innovation. The participants provided valuable inputs and recommendations which ASSAf will take into consideration in the next phase of the process. Speakers included: Prof Olubukola Oluranti Babalola (ASSAf Member; OWSD; TWAS); Dr Tebogo Mabotha (ASSAf); Dr Anila Pretorious (Wits); Ms Dineo Mmako (DWYPD); Mr Mark Bannister (DWS); Ms Bongiwe Mkhithika (DSI); Mr Gerhard Coetzee (INVEN-D) and Dr Tozama Qwebani (ASSAf). There were over 60 participants in attendance.
Quest Volume 20 Number 1
(Academy of Science of South Africa, 2024-03-28) Moodley, Deshen; Meyer,Tommie; Boshoff,Zoe; Watson-Saes, Nanette; Basson,Wilda; Duvenage,Engela; Nield,David
AI in Africa: Realities, challenges and solutions; You and I; we and AI: Knowingly and unknowingly, we are increasingly using AI in everyday life; THREAT2023 Conference: Navigating cyber threats and AI opportunities for a brighter digital future; AI for better TB diagnostics: Diagnosing Tuberculosis is challenging, but AI is making things easier; Large Language Models (LLMs):Taking a look at the heavyweight contenders; Whose jobs will AI replace?: Here’s why a clerk in Ethiopia has more to fear than one in California; Nanodiagnostics: A revolution in disease management; A REFRESHing journey: discover SA’s freshwater fish parasites; Collaring Himalayan brown bears: South African veterinarian part of collaborative effort; The future of microbiome-based therapeutics: It’s all in your gut; A spice as medicine: The possible role of turmeric in treating Parkinson’s disease; Nanotech pioneer: Prof Nyokong to receive sixth Honorary Doctorate; First underground lab for Africa in Du Toitskloof mountains: – accessed via the Huguenot tunnel; Clinical trials find firstever safe and effective TB treatment: preventing multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis in children and adults; Remove microplastics from drinking water: There’s a surprisingly simple way; Media reviews: AI text-to-image generators; Subscription
BRICS Academies Forum 2023: InterAcademy Collaboration on the Global Polycrisis
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)., 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS); Indian National Science Academy (INSA); Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) jointly hosted the 2023 BRICS Academies Forum on 1-2 December 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. The Forum is the body of science academies of the BRICS member states including the: Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Indian National Science Academy (INSA), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and ASSAf. The theme of the 2023 BRICS Academies Forum Meeting was “Inter-Academy Collaboration on Global Crises” which was aligned to the 2023 BRICS Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) theme; “Building BRICS and Africa Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.” The delegations of the BRICS Academies were welcomed by ASSAf Acting President, Prof Stephanie Burton, and DSI Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Resources, Mr Daan du Toit during the Opening and Welcome Dinner ceremony on the 1st of December. Day 2 of the meeting was dedicated to technical presentations by each Academy and subsequent discussions. Prof Burton directed the proceedings and Prof Himla Soodyall the ASSAf Executive Officer moderated the discussion.
Research, Development, and Innovation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technologies in South Africa - Proceedings Report
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); Department of Science and Innovation (DSI); South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI)
This report captures the proceedings at the launch of the study report on, Research, Development, and Innovation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technologies in South Africa. The study supports the high-level agreement between South Africa (through the DMRE) and the IAEA by providing a solid foundation upon which a national strategic framework on peaceful uses of nuclear technologies in South Africa can be built. The objectives of the study were to review relevant current and historical national policies, plans and strategies; review the national landscape of existing and emerging RDI role players and activities in the country; develop baseline information around the nuclear technology landscape to assist with targets and indicators for monitoring and evaluation; review the Country Programme Framework (CPF) between South Africa and the IAEA and make recommendations on how the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme could be leveraged to strengthen the nuclear technology sector in South Africa; and make proposals on how to define a South African nuclear technology RDI flagship programme. Characterisation of the needs and gaps contains the following elements: • a brief explanation of the need setting out the context in terms of the severity and relevance. • a strategic objective to be achieved; and • an indicator, or indicators, for the proposed objective. The study was divided into six broad areas, namely: • agriculture and food security, • human health, • radiation protection, • water and environment, • energy and industry, • nuclear safety, security and safeguards.
ASSAf Humanities Book Award Lecture by Dr Dariusz Dziewanski
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
The series of lectures serve as a continuation of the award ceremony, providing the award winners with a platform to present their journeys and motivations behind their books, discuss the societal impact of their work, and share the personal influence it has had on their lives. This lecture is aimed at enhancing the recognition of the exceptional scholarly contributions made by Dr Dariusz Dziewanski who was awarded the 2023 Humanities Book Award prize in the Emerging Researcher Category. With his book Gang Entry and Exit in Cape Town: Getting beyond the streets in Africa’s deadliest city, Dr Dariusz Dziewanski provides a detailed qualitative account of what it is like to join and later disengage from gangs in Cape Town. Through the life histories of 24 former gang members, Dariusz seeks to understand the structural forces that push people into gangs and street culture, as well as the potential pathways that gang members have for escaping the streets.
Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Mental Health Care and Policy: Bridging the Gap in Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho and South Africa
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Incorporating indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) into mental health policies poses challenges throughout Africa. Existing health policies often fall short of comprehensively tackling mental health, neurological and substance use disorders. In Africa, traditional health practitioners (THPs) play a crucial and pivotal role in public health management, as well as health care practices, but are not adequately recognised in public health policies. The session aimed to consider ways of integrating them more effectively into policy. The session also aimed to explore the intersection of IKS in mental health care and policy across the four countries. The initiative formed part of the Science Advisory and Strategic Partnership Programme of ASSAf. The objectives of the session were as follows: • To deliberate on the role of traditional practitioners in mental health care and their contribution to holistic healing practices. • To explore the integration of THPs and indigenous practices in national mental health policies and their acceptance within the broader healthcare community. • To identify opportunities for meaningful integration. • To work towards establishing a platform for mental health stakeholders within the SADC region. • To share experiences, identify common ground, and address gaps in mental health, decision making and policies.
Explore the Frontiers of Safeguarding Research Participants with the Application of Research Ethics Principles
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
Professor Hans van Delden, who is the former President of the Council of International Organisations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS), brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the event. His insights into the latest CIOMS Guidelines offered participants a unique opportunity to learn from a distinguished figure in the field of medical ethics. The public lecture explored the frontiers of safeguarding research participants, using the latest CIOMS Guidelines.
Global Health Approach for Infectious Diseases – A Proposal for the Next Decade
(Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa; German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina; Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal; Ethiopian Academy of Sciences
The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal (ANSTS), and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS) jointly hosted a workshop in May 2023 on "Infectious Diseases beyond COVID-19" at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. The objectives of the workshop were to deliberate on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and to formulate strategies for enhancing preparedness in the face of both existing and future infectious disease threats, with emphasis on the "One Health" approach and the interplay of climate change. Academia, private enterprises, non-governmental organisations, and political sectors participated in the workshop. Herewith the Conference brief is provided to highlight key recommendations.