Nerd Heaven: Networking and Connecting for Science

Moderator: Dr Bianca Verlinden
Presenter: Dr Hlamulo Makelane
Presenter: Dr Sphumelele Ndlovu
Presenter: Mr Gero von der Stein
Presenter: Ms Edith Phalane

Dr Bianca Verlinden

Dr Bianca Brider is a young malaria researcher at the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control. She is passionate about curing malaria and her PhD research resulted in the discovery of novel antimalarial compounds that limit resistance development. Her research papers have been sited 85 times, reviewed in 2 books and presented at 14 international conferences. In 2018, she was nominated by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) as one of six outstanding, ambassadors to represent South Africa at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. In 2016, she was chosen by the National Research Foundation of South Africa as one of two excellent, young researchers to represent South Africa at the 8th HOPE meeting with Nobel Laureates in Japan. At the HOPE meeting she was selected for the prestigious HOPE Award for research excellence from among 109 young scientists. In 2016, she was also chosen as one of the Top 100 Future Leaders of South Africa as part of the GradStar Awards. Bianca has received 5 international travel awards relating to her research and bioentrepreneurship endeavours from institutions such as Harvard University and the Wellcome trust. She is also an enthusiastic scientific communicator and enjoys delivering civic engagement talks to discovery centres and high schools.

Dr Hlamulo Makelane

Dr Hlamulo Makelane is a postdoctoral research fellow at the department of Chemistry, University of the Western Cape (UWC). She holds a PhD degree in chemistry with strong focus on polluted wastewater from the University of the Western Cape. Dr Makelane research interest focuses on the development of a highly selective and sensitive dendritic polymer electrochemical sensor for polluted wastewater, and also in Science, Technology and Innovation analysis to evaluate its role in addressing environmental challenges and informs policy. Dr Makelane was nominated in 2013 as an early-career scholar to present her research work for connections and flows; water, energy and digital Information in the Global South at Brown University’s International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI), USA. She has been recognised by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) as one of the top five young South Africans in chemistry participated at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2017, Germany and nominated for Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans 2017 in the Science and Technology category.

Dr Sphumelele Ndlovu

Dr Sphumelele Ndlovu is the founder and the Deputy Managing Director at Indabuko Institute (Pty) Ltd. Previously, Ndlovu worked as a Doctoral Professional Development Programme Fellow under the Space Geodesy Programme at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO), a facility of South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF). He graduated with a PhD from the School of Land Surveying (Geomatics Engineering) of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) at Howard College Campus. Previously, Ndlovu graduated with an MSc in Experimental Physics (2014), BSc Honours in Physics (2012) and a BSc in Applied Mathematics and Physics (2011) from the UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg Campus. He attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2016.

Mr Gero von der Stein

Mr Gero von der Stein has been working for the communications department of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings since 2013. As head of communications, he is responsible for all public relations activities of the Council and the Foundation. Every summer during the Lindau Meetings, he is enthralled by the informal exchange between young scientists from more than 80 countries. Bringing Nobel Laureates and young scientists from all over the world together for a week of inspiration and exchange – this is the core of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. And Gero enjoys communicating about this great institution and the interactions borne by young scientists and benefits thereof for their research.

Ms Edith Phalane

Ms Edith Phalane is currently registered for PhD in physiology at the North-West University. Her current research, evaluates the long-term cardiovascular health of HIV-infected South Africans. The findings of her research will help improve the understanding of the interplay between cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and HIV, and inform public policy on the management and early identification of CVD risk factors.

She was recently awarded the TATA Doctoral Scholarship during the South African Women in Science Awards hosted by the Department of Science and Technology; and, listed as one of the top 5 young black South African Scientist by National Research Foundation (NRF) and Women24/News24. She is invited to attend the Grant Global Annual Meeting 2018 in Berlin, Germany on 15-18 October. Phalane was selected as one of 600 outstanding young scientists in the world to attend the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany in June 2018. At the Lindau Meeting, she sat on a panel whose discussion was one of panellists who discussed “Health innovation in Africa: the way forward”.

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. There is a concurrent need for early career researchers and young scientists to engage in the international science arena through participation in international conferences and meetings. A high calibre meeting called the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting is one such example. This annual gathering held in Lindau Germany is the only meeting to host the highest number of Nobel Laureates in one sitting. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is a nominating partner to the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings whist the Department of Science and Technology (DST) provides funding support for the attending South African (SA) young scientists. At the 2019 meeting, SA will host the International Day which gives provision for 20 SA young scientists to attend.

The educational aspect of international conferences exposes one to new and global ways of conducting research and networking with peers for future collaborations. It also offers an opportunity to benchmark one’s capabilities across a network of peers and celebrate in-country science and technological research successes. In South Africa, success stories such as its leaadership in international projects such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and MeerKAT speak to the importance of working collaboratively in order to achieve success and address locally and globally relevant scientific questions.

In this session, some Lindau Alumni will share anecdotes of their experiences at the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings and its contribution towards their research careers.