Brighter Light for African Science

Moderator: Dr Sekazi Mtingwa
Presenter: Dr Prosper Ngabonziza
Presenter: Mr Tshepo Ntsoane
Presenter: Prof Simon Connell
Presenter: Prof Trevor Sewell

Dr Prosper Ngabonziza

Prosper Ngabonziza is Scientist at Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany, in the department of Solid State Quantum Electronics. He was born and did his physics undergraduate in Rwanda. After graduating from the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and completing his Masters with cum laude in experimental Physics from University of Johannesburg, he developed his career at prestigious research institutions in Europe that include synchrotron radiation facilities (Soleil synchrotron in France and Elettra synchrotron in Italy), the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology in the Netherlands and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. He holds a PhD in engineering Physics from the University of Twente, in the Netherlands.  He is a member of the executive steering committee of the African Light Source project; and holds a research associate position at the University of Johannesburg. He received in 2013 the prestigious S2A3 Bronze Medalawarded by the Southern Africa association for advancement of science to the best student who did a most meritorious master dissertation in a science department in South Africa. His current research interests focus on quantum materials, in particular topological insulator quantum materials, and quantum matter heterostructure fabricated from different complex oxide materials. These systems offer, in the near future, the opportunity to create, for example, topological quantum computers and novel electronic systems.

Dr Sekazi Mtingwa

Sekazi Mtingwa is Principal Partner at TriSEED Consultants, LLC in North Carolina, having retired from MIT and North Carolina A&T State University. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and US National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). He co-founded the following organizations: NSBP; US National Society of Hispanic Physicists; African Laser Centre, a network of laser labs for which he wrote the Strategy and Business Plan; African Physical Society; African Optics and Photonics Society; African Institute for Mathematical Sciences-Ghana; African Light Source Initiative; African Review of Physics; Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere University of Agriculture and Technology; and Lightsources for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Middle East Project (LAAAMP). He chaired writing the Strategic Plan for South Africa’s light source user community, resulting in South Africa’s becoming a dues-paying member of the ESRF. Mtingwa played an important role in building the accelerator systems at Fermilab used to discover the top quark. He shares with Anton Piwinski and James Bjorken the APS 2017 Robert R. Wilson Prize for the theory of intrabeam scattering (IBS). IBS sets performance limitations on a wide class of accelerators, including advanced light sources, and their work played a crucial role in the discovery of the top quark and Higgs at CERN. Mtingwa received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the American Nuclear Society for chairing an APS study that was an important influence leading to the US Department of Energy’s decision to allocate 20% of its nuclear fuel cycle R&D budget to rejuvenate university programs. Mtingwa serves as Administrative Judge with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and President of INCREASE, which seeks to increase the use of US national labs by its Minority-Serving Institutions. He chairs the LAAAMP Executive Committee and the IUPAP C13 Commission on Physics for Development.

Mr Tshepo Ntsoane

Tshepo Ntsoane is Senior Scientist at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation SOC Limited’s (NECSA) Radiation Science Division responsible for the X-ray diffraction facility. His interests are in Materials Science, Solid State and Applied Physics. Being a light source user, he has worked at a number of facilities including the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF), Advance Photon Source (APS), SOLIEL, Laboratorio Nacional de Luz Sincrotorne (LNLS) and Elettra. He is the current Chair of Synchrotron Research Roadmap Implementation Committee (SRRIC) and the founding member of the African Light Source (AfLS) project. Together with other synchrotron users and colleagues in South Africa and globally, he has been active in promoting the use of Light Sources in research and facilitate their access by Africans.

Prof Simon Connell

Simon Connell is professor of physics at the University of Johannesburg within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science.  He has research interests in Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Energy, Materials Science, Quantum Physics, High Performance Computing and Applied (innovation) Physics. His research spans the fields above as does his teaching, and in particular he has developed a 10 Module accredited course at the 4th year level in Nuclear Energy. He has published over 150 papers in International Journals and is an ATLAS author. His rating by the SA Research Funding Agency (NRF) cites him as having “considerable international recognition”. He is a past president of the South African Institute of Physics. He is the founding member of the South African participation in High Energy Physics at the ATLAS Experiment at CERN, where with his group he participates in a Beyond Standard Model search as well as engineering and technical activities. He has also worked for many years at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF). He is interested in technology for competitive industry and in innovation and has a project on the intelligent sensor based sorting of diamond in kimberlite, which is now being commercialized. A current major activity in the service of the discipline is the development of the South African user base for Light Sources, (these are premier international multi-disciplinary research tools) and the implementation of the roadmap towards the African Light Source.

Prof Trevor Sewell

Trevor Sewell is professor of Structural Biology and Director of the Aaron Klug Centre for Imaging and Analysis at the University of Cape Town. He studied Physics and Biophysics at the University of the Witwatersrand before going to Birkbeck, London for his PhD in Protein Crystallography. At Birkbeck, under the supervision of Sir Tom Blundell, he studied one of the first discovered aspartate proteases that was used for making cheese. It turned out to be a close relative of the HIV protease and an enzyme that helps regulate blood pressure. He has helped establish the field of Structural Biology in South Africa, focusing largely on the structures of industrial enzymes and potential drug targets as well as on building infrastructure and educating students. He has supervised over forty post-graduate students – most of whom now have research positions abroad.

Light sources (LSs) such as provided by synchrotrons and Free Electron Lasers are currently the most transformative state-of-the-art research instruments for a broad spectrum of disciplines that include physics, chemistry, bioscience, materials science, nanoscience, geoscience, heritage science, environmental science, medical science, all fields of engineering and industrial manufacturing. They embrace essentially all spectroscopic and many imaging techniques, utilising radiation from the infrared (IR), through the visible, ultra-violet (UV), X-ray, to the soft gamma ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum. LSs are orders of magnitude brighter than traditional lasers, which themselves for decades have transformed science and technology. The impact is however beyond science. This is an enormous engine for capacity development, competitive industry, sustainable contributions to health, the environment, mineral beneficiation, clean energy, the culture of learning and many other important spinoff benefits.