Moderator: Dr Samson Khene, Rhodes University
Panelist: Prof Aliza Le Roux, University of the Free State
Panelist: Dr Elias Matinde, University of Witwatersrand
Panelist: Ms Rachel Rayner SAASTA
A group of young African Scientists, fellows of the 2017 Africa Science Leadership Programme (ASLP), engaged in a series of facilitated discussions aimed at developing solutions to enhance science communication. Identified science communication issues in Africa were (1) policies are often not evidence-based and do not consider inter-and transdisciplinary perspectives (2) society is not always aware of scientifically-sound/informed outputs and practices that enhances its knowledge, attitudes, practices, behaviours and ultimately communities and individuals, and (3) citizens and scientists are often frustrated with policies and how these are developed and implemented. Society is defined as citizens/organisations/industry; policy actors. The group proposed a conceptual model for closing the gap between science, communities and policy actors to address inadequate and ineffective scientific communication with the ultimate objective to make science serve society better. The model is embedded in inter/transdisciplinary approaches which link with specific communities to co-create locally-tailored solutions that address taboos, explain indigenous knowledge and practices, address unsafe practices, use scientific knowledge or tools to solve local problems. At the Forum we wish to stimulate discussion, be challenged, provoke and be provoked, and; to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to interrogate and innovate the feasibility of the concept in Africa.
Dr Samson Khene is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Rhodes University, South Africa. He hold a background in Physical Chemistry and a research interest in phthalocyanine chemistry, spectroscopy, nonlinear optics and electrochemistry. He currently hold a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Hons), Master of Science and PhD in Physical Chemistry degree. He also holds two qualifications on teaching in Higher Education, which include the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education (PGDHE) and the Strengthening Doctoral Supervision Course (NUFFIC). Samson is a JSPS HOPE fellow (JSPS – Japan Society for Promotion of Science) and Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP) fellow. He is a member of the board of African Network for Electroanalytical Chemistry (ANEC). Samson also has an interest in supporting the development of upcoming African researchers, and hence invests his time on the side on organising Rhodes University Science Dialogues for the promotion of science in society.
Professor Aliza Le Roux is an ecologist researching how social and ecological environments influence mammals’ behavior and cognitive processes. Her research has led her to deserts and mountain tops, and she has blogged about her past work for journals such as Nature. In the mountains of Qwaqwa she mentors undergraduate and postgraduate students in behavioral ecology, while also leading efforts to make science more relevant to society. She has spoken about science on community radio, and is setting up a project that seeks to activate some citizen scientists in rural communities. As a member of the South African Young Academy of Science, she is the creator and editor of the postgraduate student blog (http://sayasblog.com/), giving a voice to emerging scientists. In all of her work thus far, she has realized that there’s so much more to be learned from communicating outside ones comfort zone – natural scientists must learn from social scientists (and vice versa); and all academics have to open their eyes to learn from the broader society in which they live.
Dr Elias Matinde is a professional engineer with two and a half years of senior management experience leading scientific and applied research and development teams in metallurgical research and new product development . He is a co-author of a specialist textbook on the production and valorization of metallurgical and industrial wastes in metal extraction industry, first author of four peer reviewed journal papers, first author of a process-based patent, and principal researcher for two industrial consultancy papers. He has managed to build extensive collaborations with other experts in South Africa and across the globe. His research interests include the design of high temperature metallurgical processes, selection and design of refractory materials and development of sustainable metal extraction processes.
Rachel Rayner is a Science Communicator on assignment with Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) placed at the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). Before moving to South Africa, she was at the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, Bendigo, Australia, where she designed and facilitated educational resources, activities, shows and events for students, teachers and visitors. She was twice selected, from an international pool of candidates, as a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, spending time on the E/V Nautilus to share the forefront of oceanic exploration with the world.Rachel has spent over seven years in science communication, including working at Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre in roles ranging from exhibition design, to creating innovation workshops, to producing virtual excursions via video conferencing technology. She has also traveled throughout Australia and Vietnam presenting exhibitions, shows and professional development workshops. Rachel has a keen interest in combining science and art, influenced by her Bachelor of Liberal Studies from the University of Sydney, where she majored in Physics and Art History. She carried this focus as part of the Shell Questacon Science Circus, a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication from the Australian National University.