The Power of Public Engagement for Cultivating Real Science Breakthroughs to Tackle Food Security

Moderator: Dr. Mahlet Mesfin, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Panelist: Mr Michael Ellis, South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement

Panelist: Prof Sakae Shibusawa, Science Council Japan

Panelist: Prof Bernard Slippers, University of Pretoria

The series of our “Power of Public Engagement” sessions launched last year implies that public engagement is all about “igniting conversations about science” in many levels and it is an essential medium to make science transforming society by bridging scientists, policy makers, industrialists, And the general publics.

This talk brings together Africa, Asia and America shaping the latest thinking on the global stage as to how this connectivity should best be made focusing on the field of Innovative Agriculture.

Panelists specialized in science communication, policy, both big-picture and on-site research get together to consider how they can streamline such public engaging activities in order to achieve global targets, such as Food Security which is also incorporated in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”. In this session, we will discuss not only innovative agricultural techniques and agricultural systems but also damages on rumors of foods. It is a field that can make a big contribution in public engagement, especially concerning rumor damage of food.


Dr. Mahlet Mesfin, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Mahlet Mesfin is the deputy director of AAAS’s Center for Science Diplomacy, where she serves as a key adviser on areas related to science diplomacy, is responsible for the planning and implementation of science diplomacy initiatives and projects, and is executive editor of the open-access policy journal Science & Diplomacy.

Prior to joining AAAS, Mahlet was the Assistant Director for International Science and Technology (S&T) at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  She led the strategic planning, coordination, and execution of the S&T-focused engagements under the responsibility of the U.S. President’s Science Advisor, including with those with China, Japan, India, South Korea, Brazil and the G7 Science Ministers, and championed S&T as an element of the broader U.S. government’s foreign policy agenda.  Mahlet entered the government through the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship program, where she worked on the coordination and strategy of international basic research engagement across the U.S. Department of Defense.  She was also a policy fellow at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Engineering.

Mahlet received a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.




Mr Michael Ellis, South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, South Africa

Michael is the science communication manager at the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement where his responsibilities include the development of science communication resources, skills and programmes in South Africa. He has over a decade of experience in implementing science communication initiatives and has served on the management teams of the Cape Town Science Centre and Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Johannesburg. He has experience in STI training and human capital development through his involvement in the national network of science centres and science communication training for researchers. Michael is responsible for various programmes at SAASTA including the SA ScienceLens, FameLab SA, Nanotechnology and HySA public engagement programmes, a youth science journalism internship and the National Science Debating competition. Michael has an MSc (Entomology), BSc Hons and a BSecEd (Sci) from the University of Pretoria.




Dr. Sakae Shibusawa , Japan, Science Council Japan

Dr. Sakae Shibusawa is a professor of the Institute of Agriculture at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and a council member of Science Council of Japan.

His work is focused on community-based precision agriculture, resulted in a strategy on Agro-medical foods. He edited the book “Precision Agriculture” (in Japanese) in 2004, and he is now working on the government policy on ICT for agriculture. Farm assurance of GLOBALG.A.P. with precision agriculture is also his important business.



Prof Bernard Slippers, South Africa, University of Pretoria

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 organizer. Bernard is a founding member of the Global Young Academy and South African Young Academy of Science, and a current member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. 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.






By | 2017-12-01T10:39:01+00:00 October 9th, 2017|