The Essence of Frontier Science for Inclusive Development

Moderator:  Dr Aldo Stroebel, National Research Foundation

Panelist: Prof Klaus Bock, European Research Council

Panelist: Prof Paul Nugent, University of Edinburgh

Panelist: Prof Carina Schlebusch, European Research Council grantee

Panelist: Mr Robert-Jan Smits, Research and Innovation at the European Commission

Panelist: Dr. Stéphanie Thiébault , CNRS Ecology and Environment Institute

Frontier research, cutting-edge work at the forefront of knowledge, offers an unparalleled opportunity for a different approach to inclusive development. Through looking at issues from a novel perspective, science is a tool for understanding,among others, the root causes of historical realities, economic trends and political phenomena, as well as exploring solutions rooted in innovation

The European Research Council is a flagship component of Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Research Framework Programme for 2014 to 2020. Its mission is to reinforce the highest quality investigator-driven frontier research in Europe through competitive funding of researchers of all nationalities, across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence

In this session, ERC-funded researchers will discuss the role of their work in this discourse. They will be joined by Director General of DG Research and Innovation Robert-Jan Smits and Vice-President of the European Research Council Prof. Klaus Bock, who will discuss the role of initiatives such as the ERC, and programmes such as Horizon 2020, in fostering the exchange and flow of these ideas in the context of EU-Africa collaboration


Dr Aldo Stroebel, National Research Foundation

Dr Aldo Stroebel is Executive Director Strategic Partnerships at the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for African Development at Cornell University, USA. He serves as South Africa’s National Contact Point for the ERC to H2020, and on the boards of the Water Research Commission (WRC) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). He is a former member of the Research and Innovation Strategy Group (RISG) of Universities South Africa (USAf), and past President of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA). He holds a Ministerial appointment to the National Education and Training Forum for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (NETFAFF). In 2017, he was admitted as a Foreign Fellow of the Ugandan National Academy of Science, and is a founding member of the SA Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). Education credentials: University of Pretoria (BSc- and Hons-degrees); University of Ghent, Belgium (Masters in International Agricultural Development); University of the Free State and Cornell University, USA (PhD); Postdoctoral research at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. He has published widely in smallholder farming systems, and has been acknowledged as a leader in internationalisation of Higher Education, and research and innovation management.


 Prof Klaus BockEuropean Research Council

Klaus Bock has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (1968) and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the same university (1970). He was Associate Professor in Organic Chemistry at the Technical University of Denmark and was subsequently appointed head and professor of the Chemistry Department at the Carlsberg Laboratory. From 1992 he was Head of Research at Carlsberg Research Centre and in 2001-2007 Executive Vice-President for Research of Carlsberg A/S. He has published 260 papers in international journals and served as a referee in the areas of analytical and synthetic carbohydrate chemistry. He received the International Carbohydrate Award in honour of Roy L. Whistler in 1986, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 1992 and the Samuel Friedman Foundation Rescue Award presented by UCLA in 2006. From 2004 to 2012 he was Chairman of the Danish National Research Foundation, from 2005 to 2013 he served as Deputy Chairman of the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation and President of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences between 2009 and 2011. From 2010 he has also been a member of the Standing Selection Committee for the Network of Centres of Excellence in Canada


Prof Paul Nugent, University of Edinburgh

Paul Nugent is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and is currently Professor of Comparative African History at the University of Edinburgh, where he was also previously the Director of the Centre of African Studies. He is a specialist on African borderlands and regional integration. He currently holds an ERC Advanced Grant for a project entitled “African Governance and Space: Transport Corridors, Border Towns and Port Cities in Transition” (AFRIGOS) which compares the logics and practices of ‘respacing’ through large-scale infrastructural investments and regional integration initiatives in West, West-Central, East and Southern Africa. He is the author of four research monographs, the latest of which is Boundaries and State-Making in the Senegambia and Trans-Volta. He was President of AEGIS (Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies) and is the founder/chair of the African Borderlands Research Network. In 2015/16, he was member of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton. He has played an applied role through his engagement with the African Union Border Programme (AUBP)



Prof  Carina Schlebusch,European Research Council grantee 

Carina Schlebusch is Assistant Professor in Evolutionary Functional Genomics at the Department of Organismal Biology at Uppsala University (Sweden). She was born in South Africa and completed her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Himla Soodyall at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her thesis dealt with the history of southern African population groups and specifically with the population genetics of San and Khoekhoe groups. In 2009, she moved to Uppsala University, where she started a Postdoc in the laboratory of Prof. Mattias Jakobsson. After her postdoc, she continued her research in African population history at Uppsala University and she is presently the PI of a research group that investigates human evolutionary history with a focus on Africa. In 2017 she received an ERC starting grant for a project investigating the African Neolithic period from a genetic perspective



Mr  Robert-Jan SmitsResearch and Innovation at the European Commission 

Robert-Jan Smits is Director-General of DG Research and Innovation  at the European Commission. He is responsible for defining and implementing the EU policy and programmes in the field of research and innovation. Mr Smits was one of the main architects and negotiators of Horizon 2020, the 80 billion EU programme for science and innovation (2014-2020). Mr Smits has also been instrumental in the development of several policy initiatives in the field: the European Research Council (ERC), the European Roadmap for large scale facilities, Public-Private Partnerships in research, the Innovation Union and the European Research Area (ERA). Mr Smits chairs several high-level committees such as European Research Area Committee (ERAC), the Steering Committee of the ERC Executive Agency (ERCEA), the Executive Committee of GEO (Global Initiative on Earth Observations) and joint S&T committees with Europe’s key global partners. He has received several recognitions and awards for his contribution to European Science and innovation, including an honorary degree from Edinburgh University and a life-time achievements award from EuroScience. Mr Smits was born in the Netherlands. He has degrees from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, InstitutUniversitaired’Hautes Etudes Internationales in Switzerland and Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy in the United States of America


Dr  Stéphanie Thiébault , CNRS Ecology and Environment Institute 

Palaeo- and archaeobotanist, Stéphanie Thiébault is a specialist of the analysis of charcoal fragments discovered in archaeological settlements, call “anthracology”. She joined the CNRS in 1988 and was named at the Institute of Evolution Sciences in Montpellier. Her research is situated at the crossroads of archaeology and palaeoecology and brought major advances in scientific knowledge about vegetation dynamics and human relations with his environment for the last 15,000 years. Stéphanie Thiébault has worked on numerous fields in the eastern Mediterranean, Africa or Central Asia and has developed and teach this approach of the relations between human and their environment. For her work, she received in 2008 the CNRS Silver Medal. In February 2013, Stéphanie Thiébault is appointed Director of the Ecology and Environment Institute of the CNRS. Its action allowed to inscribe this Institute of the CNRS created in 2009, in a totally innovative dynamic, reinforcing the notion Human-Environment to research in ecology, declining this scientific field to interdisciplinarity and in close association with socio-economic actors. At the time of strong societal demands concerning global changes (including climate change), the ecology of health, the preservation of biodiversity balances or the circular economy, the INEE of CNRS federates a community of excellence by developing its international activities and by allowing the development of new scientific strategic axes, genuine tools for decision-making.


By | 2017-12-06T06:07:33+00:00 October 6th, 2017|