Prof Bernard Slippers, University Of Pretoria
Dr Makondelele Makatu, University of Venda
Young scientists represent the future of a country’s science and technology development and their inclusion from an early stage in the processes that build a country’s system of innovation is critical. The Africa Union (AU) in its Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa STISA-2024 policy document, emphasises the urgency to “harvest (this) population demographic dividend, especially women and youth, whose energy, creativity and courage must drive its development agenda”.
It is therefore imperative to track leadership opportunities, foster partnerships and networks which will the engender growth of young scientists. The Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP) is an initiative of the University of Pretoria, the Global Young Academy and the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS), with the support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. It aims to grow mid-career African young academics in the areas of thought leadership, team management and research development, with the intention of enabling them to contribute to the development of a new paradigm for science in African, focused on its contribution to solving the complex issues facing both Africa and the global community.
The panel session aims at advocating for the harnessing of young scientists as a major resource for development, acting as agents for social change, economic expansion and innovation. It calls for the expansion of this as well as other models, such as the National Young Academies of Science, the Next Einstein Forum etc. through advancing a curriculum for academic leadership development which can be utilised in other institutions in Africa.
Bernard Slippers is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and a research leader of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme and Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology, in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria (UP). Bernard’s research is on the ecology, evolution and management of insects and fungi that affect tree health. His work finds applications nationally and internationally in the management of forest pests. He has published more than 200 papers, including in high profile journals such as Science, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Trends in Plant Science and others. Bernard has supervised more than 50 PhD and Masters students and regularly contributes to national and international congresses as invited speaker and organiser. Bernard is a founding member of the Global Young Academy and South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS), and a current member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). Bernard was also a Young Affiliate of The World Academy of Science (TWAS). He currently leads the Future Africa project at UP, a campus focused on developing excellence in transdisciplinary science leadership in Africa, as well as the Africa Science Leadership Programme.
Makondelele Makatu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Venda (UNIVEN). She obtained her doctoral degree from the University of Pretoria (UP). Prior to that, she had received her education at UNIVEN, University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of Maastricht, the Netherlands. In her quest for new and innovative ideas to deploy in her academic work, Makondelele applied for and received a EUROSA scholarship which enabled her to spend a month at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She completed the Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) fellowship programme. She is one of the 2016 Africa Science Leadership (ASLP) fellows and a full member of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). She is currently in the Executive Committee of South African Young Academy of Science. Over the years, she participated in many academic and community development initiatives, capacity building and mentoring activities. She particularly notes her involvement in the household vulnerability to food and water insecurity project from 2013-2014, which the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) and Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) funded and was implemented in Thulamela Municipality of Limpopo Province by the Institute for Rural Development at UNIVEN.
Her main research focus is on youth and women psychology. Currently she is coordinating a project focusing on developing responsible citizens amongst in-school youth for the benefit of the society. She has successfully supervised seven and co-supervised three Masters and four PhD students. Furthermore, she serves as an external examiner for Psychology Masters dissertations of students registered at various universities in South Africa. She has published 17 research articles in both national and international journals.