Newsletter for the Academy of Science of South Africa - September 2014

ASSAf President elected ICSU President-elect
Professor Daya Reddy, President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has been elected as President-elect of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Another Member of ASSAf, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria was elected to serve on the ICSU Executive Board at the organisation’s 31st General Assembly in Auckland. They were both elected by representatives from ICSU’s 120 national members and 31 scientific unions attending the meeting in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2014.

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Prof Gordon McBean congratulating Prof Daya Reddy on his election as President-elect.

Study on The State of Energy Research in SA completed
A study on The State of Energy Research in South Africa was recently completed by the Academy of Science of South Africa. The panel was chaired by Prof Frikkie van Niekerk of North-West University. This study was initiated at the request of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The motivation for the project was to improve the understanding of the energy research landscape in South Africa in order to support the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) to fulfill its functions in terms of energy research support and coordination in South Africa.
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Conference to Provoke Controversy 
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted a 2-day conference on the Humanities on 26 and 27 June 2014 at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria. The conference entitled On Being Controversial - The Humanities Reach Out was opened by Prof Craig Calhoun, Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The conference seeked to unlock the questioning spirit of the Humanities and, in doing so, showcased their range and relevance for contemporary South Africa.  
 
The Humanities thrive on controversy as this helps to understand societal issues better.
The argumentation which accompanies controversy also adds a depth to the Humanities by opening them to various views and voices, thereby making them even more appreciative of and relevant to everyday life. The immediate focus of the conference was South Africa in its twentieth year of democracy and topics that were addressed include Modes of Speaking about Politics, The Post-apartheid Urban as a Space of Creativity, Community and Controversy and Do Families Matter, are They in Crisis, How are they Changing, Should we be Worried, What Should be Done?
 
The conference was attended by 150 delegates which include well-known Mandla Langa, writer and Andile Mngxitama, a politician as well as academics and other social commentators. 
Health Policymakers’ Booklet Editorial Meeting held
NASAC, in collaboration with the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, held a Health Policymakers’ Booklet Editorial Meeting in Pretoria, South Africa from 11-12 September 2014. The meeting was funded by the Germany Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and hosted by ASSAf.
Visiting Scholar addressed New Materials for the 21st Century
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Royal Society of South Africa hosted a public lecture on New Materials for the 21st Century by Prof Anthony K Cheetham from the Department of Materials Science, University of Cambridge. Cheetam is a Rutherford Lecturer. The Rutherford Lecture is a prestigious international lecture of the Royal Society (London). An eminent UK scientist is elected as the Rutherford Lecturer and he/she presents the lecture at universities in various countries in the Commonwealth.

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Young Academy puts focus on Water Security
SAYAS hosted a two-day interdisciplinary colloquium on water security at the University of KwaZulu-Natal recently. The event generated a consensus statement on issues relating to water security in South Africa with the aim to inform policy. The colloquium specifically addressed the themes: Public expectations and municipal obligations regarding water quality; Sanitation and water reuse – health and infrastructural considerations; Water security and governance – challenges and advances. A report on the proceedings of the workshop is currently in production.
OWSD Workshop on Scientific Writing and Science Communication
ASSAf hosted the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) Fellowship Holders Regional Workshop on Scientific Writing and Science Communication on 19 to 22 August 2014.The workshop was targeted at 15 current postgraduate (PG) fellows based at institutions of higher learning in South Africa who are studying towards a doctorate or PhD qualification.
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Science and Society in Africa under the spotlight
The South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) hosted a workshop entitled Science and Society in Africa at the Stellenbosch University in September. The focus of the workshop was on ‘closing the gap’ between science and society in Africa It also explored the colonial-era legacies which confront African scientists.

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Workshop on Artisanal Gold Mining
A workshop on the Impacts of Artisanal Gold Mining in Sudan was held on 2 and 3 September at the Future University in Khartoum, Sudan.  The workshop was jointly organised by the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences (SNAS) and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). The workshop was intended to provide a platform for experts to engage on the issues around artisanal gold mining in Sudan and to make recommendations on the way forward. A statement on the risks and mitigation factors of artisanal gold mining for dissemination to policymakers and the government of Sudan will be produced by SNAS.

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Young Scientist Conference to address to Agriculture and Food Security
The fourth ASSAf Annual South African Young Scientists’ Conference with the theme Agriculture and Food Security and will be held from 14 -16 October 2014 in Pretoria. The conference will primarily attract PhD, postdoctoral, and young, early-career researchers and scientists. This year, the theme of the conference is aligned to the African Union theme for 2014.

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In Memoriam - Prof Helen Laburn
Helen Laburn was Professor of Thermal Physiology at Wits where she was previously the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and former Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. Her research focused on the physiology of temperature regulation in mammals and humans, with particular interest in the foetus and newborn. She published approximately 70 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, including 12 chapters in books.

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SciELO SA User’s Group Meeting
Forty-two SciELO editors attended the SciELO-SA User’s Group Meeting on 29 July 2014. The theme of the meeting was to emphasise the importance of ensuring that SciELO journals retain their quality to ensure participation in the Web of Knowledge and continued inclusion of the journals on the SciELO SA platform.

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National Scholarly Editors Forum meet in Stellenbosch
 

The annual National Scholarly Editors Forum meeting took place in Cape Town on 30 July 2014. A record number of 120 editors attended the meeting which offers an opportunity for journal editors to exchange information and knowledge in their field, as well as an occasion to meet not only disciplinary peers, but other experts who share the same interests.


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ASSAf Members in the News
The core functions of the Academy require that the country’s most outstanding scholars are included in its Membership. These Members are recognised in various fields.

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New Faces at ASSAf

Lynette du Plessis joined ASSAf at the beginning of August 2014 as Human Resources Manager on a contract basis. Lynette has extensive experience in the mining and union environments.


Ina Smith started at ASSAf as a new staff member on 1 October 2014. She will be the new SciELO SA Planning Manager. Ina holds a M.Ed. in Computer-Integrated Education and an honours degree in Library and Information Science.  

Quest looks at Crystallography
This issue of Quest is devoted to the International Year of Crystallography and we are privileged to have Catharine Esterhuysen, president of the South African Crystallography Association, Andreas Roodt (President of the European Crystallographic Association) and other distinguished colleagues in the field as contributors.

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South African Journal of Science highlights open acces
The Sep/Oct issue of the South African Journal of Science highlights open access – which is celebrated this month during Open Access Week from 20 to 26 October. In an article in this issue, Laura Czerniewicz and Sarah Goodier from the University of Cape Town discuss open-access publishing in South Africa. Open access not only increases the accessibility and visibility of research, but also enhances dissemination and interdisciplinary research opportunities. The South African Journal of Science became an open-access journal in 2009 when it was the first journal included on ASSAf’s SciELO SA platform of open-access South African journals.

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Credits & Contributions
The Science for Society Newsletter is published quarterly by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).
PO Box 72135, Lynnwood Ridge, Pretoria, South Africa, 0040. 1st Floor Block A, The Woods, 41 De Havilland Crescent, Persequor Park, Meiring  Naudé Road, Lynnwood 0020, Pretoria, South Africa. Tel: +27 12 349 6600 Fax: +27 12 349 5461
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Editor: Patricia Scholtz
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