Science Diplomacy Contributing to Africa’s Development

Mr Joseph Senona
Dr Aldo Stroebel
Dr Amitava Bandopadhyay
Mr Robert-Jan Smits
Prof Felix Dakora

Dr Aldo Stroebel

Dr Aldo Stroebel is Executive Director Strategic Partnerships at the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for African Development at Cornell University, USA. He is a former President of the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA), serves as South Africa’s National Contact Point for the ERC to H2020, and holds Ministerial appointments to the boards of the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC); and the National Education and Training Forum for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (NETFAFF). He was a founding member of the SA Young Academy of Science, and is an elected Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS). 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.

Dr Amitava Bandopadhyay

Dr. Amitava Bandopadhyay, Director General (Designate) has joined the Centre for
Science & Technology of the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries (NAM
S&T Centre) on November 1, 2018.

Before joining NAM S&T Centre, he was Head of the Recruitment & Assessment
Board (CSIR-RAB), Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, New Delhi (2016-18).
During 2013-16, Dr. Bandopadhyay had worked as Chief Scientist and Head of
CSIR’s International Science & Technology Affairs Directorate (ISTAD), New Delhi.
As Head of the International S&T Affairs Directorate, Dr. Bandopadhyay was
responsible for coordinating CSIR’s international scientific & technological activities
around the world including international R&D programs, research contracts and
training activities. During 1991-2012, Dr. Bandopadhyay has worked in the CSIRNational
Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur, India in various capacities in the
areas of ferrous extractive metallurgy and environmental & energy management.
During his research career, he has led a number of internationally funded R&D

Prior to joining CSIR, Dr. Bandopadhyay was a Principal Research Engineer at the
R&D Centre for Iron & Steel, Steel Authority of India Limited, Ranchi.
Dr. Bandopadhyay has over 35 years of R&D experience in the areas of mineral and
materials processing; environment and energy related issues in metallurgical &
chemical process industries; development of cleaner technologies; management of
R&D programs and related activities.

Dr. Bandopadhyay did his B. Chem. Engg. from the Jadavpur University, Kolkata; ME
in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and
Ph. D. in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology,
Kharagpur, India. He did his post-doctoral studies from the Pennsylvania State
University, State College, USA (1989-91) and the University of Leeds, UK (2001). He
has more than 125 research publications & presentations and 15 patents to his
credit. He has also edited 7 books/conference proceedings.

Dr. Bandopadhyay is the recipient of the “Metallurgist of the Year Award” (National
Metallurgist Day Award) from the Ministry of Steel & Mines, Govt. of India (1998);
“Indranil Award – 1997” from the Mining, Geological & Metallurgical Institute of
India (MGMI) and “PL Thermal Sciences – ITAS Award – 1993” for his scientific &
technological contributions. He is also the co-recipient of the “Green Apple
International Award – 2012” from the United Kingdom for the project “Chemical free
arsenic removal for rural water supply” with Prof. Bhaskar Sengupta, OBE from the
Queen’s University, Belfast, UK. He is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Metals and
recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Fellowship to the Queen’s
University, Belfast, UK during 2011.

Mr Robert-Jan Smits

Robert-Jan Smits is the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, based at the European political Strategy Centre (EPSC) of the European Commission. In this capacity, he has to propose concrete policy recommendations to ensure that by 2020 all publicly funded scientific publications are available in Open Access.

Before this, he was from 2010-2018 the Director-General of DG Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission. In this capacity he was responsible for defining and implementing the EU policy and programmes in the field of research and innovation (average annual budget 8 billion euro).

Mr Smits was one of the main architects and negotiators of Horizon 2020, the 80 billion EU programme for science and innovation (2014-2020). He also is the main architect of Horizon Europe, the successor programme (2021-2027) for which the European Commission has made a 100 billion euro proposal.

Mr Smits has also been instrumental in the development of several policy initiatives in the field of European science and innovation such as: the European Research Council (ERC), the European Roadmap for large scale facilities, Public-Private Partnerships in research, the Innovation Union, the European Research Area (ERA) and Open Science.

In his previous capacity Mr Smits was chairing 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 (2016), a life-time achievements award from EuroScience (2016), the Academy Medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017), the Excellence in Global Science award in South-Africa (2017), the Medal of Honour from KU Leuven (2018), and the Gold Medal from Academia Europaea (2018).

Previous assignments of Mr Smits at the European Commission were:

Deputy Director-General at the Joint Research Center (JRC) responsible for Strategic Programmes and Stakeholder Relations, Resource Management and three Institutes, being the Institute for Energy, the Institute for Environment and Sustainability and the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (2010).

Director for the European Research Area: ‘Research Programmes and Capacity’ at DG Research (Joint Programming, coordination of national research programmes, cooperation with intergovernmental research organisations (EIROforum, EUREKA, COST), Research Infrastructures, Regions of Knowledge, Research Potential and the relations with the European Investment Bank (EIB) (2005-2010).

Head of Unit ‘Strengthening cooperation in Research and the European Scientific Base’ in DG Research (2002-2005).

Before his assignments at the European Commission, Mr Smits worked at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands where he was dealing with international technology policy (1985-1989).

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.

Prof Felix Dakora

Prof Dakora obtained his BSc (Hons) degree in Agriculture from the University of Ghana in 1977, an MSc degree from the University of Sydney, Australia, in 1981, and a PhD in Botany from the University of Western Australia, Perth, 1989. He currently holds a South African Research Chair in Agrochemurgy and Plant Symbioses at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa; and is Fellow and President of the African Academy of Sciences. In 2012, he won the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, and the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Science Excellence Continental Award in 2016. He is a Member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and TWAS Fellow.He currently serves as Adjunct Professor to the University of Western Australia for the period June 2012 to May 2021. Prof Dakora’s research has contributed to our current understanding of the signalling and protectant roles of legume molecules such as flavonoids, alkaloids, amino acids, terpenoids and isoflavonoid phytoalexins, as well as of rhizobial metabolites such as lumichrome, riboflavin and indole acetic acid, especially in plant functioning and the expression of bacterial nodulation genes. His research has i) identified legume species and their associated microsymbionts that can serve as biofertilizers for cropping systems in Africa, ii) selected legume varieties and super-smart soil microbes that are tolerant of drought, low pH, high salinity and high temperatures for use in a climate change scenario, and iii) isolated native soil rhizobia that promote increased trace element uptake and accumulation in food legumes for overcoming micronutrient deficiency in Africa. Prof Dakora has published 427 papers (which comprise 119 peer-reviewed journal articles, 16 Book Chapters and 292 peer-reviewed Conference papers/abstracts) and a Book entitled: “Biological Nitrogen Fixation: Towards Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Agriculture” published by Springer.He has an individual H-index of 33, and his work has been cited 4876 times by peers in the discipline. Prof Dakora is passionate about capacity building and has trained 44 postgraduate students (27 master’s and 17 doctoral) from 14 African countries.

This session will celebrate the SFSA Science Diplomacy 2017 winners. The SFSA Science Diplomacy Awards are designed to recognise outstanding achievements in South Africa’s STI cooperation as well as global contributions to harnessing STI for international peace, solidarity and sustainable development.

The awardees will discuss in this session the importance of science diplomacy in the development of Africa and finding solutions to global challenges, as well as the contribution their award-winning science diplomacy made to South Africa’s development and a better Africa in a better world. This celebration of top science diplomats will highlight the importance of science diplomacy in Africa and the world.