10 February 2015 
Become a PhD Blogger for the South African Young Academy of Science

Are you a PhD student who loves your research? Do you want to share this joy with others and raise your own online profile? In 2015, SAYAS is launching a blogging platform, inviting four young writers to share their experiences as a PhD student throughout the year. These bloggers will be selected through a nation-wide competition, and each successful candidate will receive training in writing for the popular media, professional editing, and a small monthly stipend for each blog entry.

PhD students from all academic disciplines are invited to enter this competition. Four individuals will be selected as SAYAS bloggers, and these candidates must commit to writing a monthly entry until December 2015. To be eligible for this competition, you must be a registered PhD candidate at a South African institution, and your supervisor should also support your commitment to this blogging project.

  • Blogs must be 500-1000 words long, written in an informal/ colloquial English suited to a non-academic/ lay audience. Send entries as a Word document in an email attachment.
  • Photos are welcome but not compulsory.
  • The topic for the competition entry can be anything related to your PhD: you have to entice the reader to follow your personal story throughout the year!

Send competition entries and queries directly to Dr Aliza le Roux: Include your own contact details, thesis topic and supervisor’s contact details in the body of the email.

Competition closes 27 February 2014

22 January 2015 
British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding 2015

The Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize, worth £25,000, is awarded annually for outstanding academic achievement in transcultural understanding and is designed to illustrate the interconnected nature of cultures and civilizations. The award was founded by the  International Relations scholar, Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan. The Prize was first awarded in 2013.


Eligible work can be from any humanities or social science discipline or disciplines, and may take the form of a book or equivalent body of work (such as a series of articles) published within the last five years. Nominated persons can be of any nationality, based anywhere in the world and working in any language provided that the nominated work is available in English. The closing date for nomination submissions is Friday 31 January 2015.

More information available here
Nomination Form available here.

21 January 2015 Royal Society Pfizer Award - Call for nominations 

This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Royal Society Pfizer Award, the programme has been expanded to allow two awards to be made in 2015. Each award consists of a grant towards a research project that is linked to an African centre of scientific excellence.

  • Early Career Award: intended for candidates at an early stage of their career, usually having received their PhD within the last 20 years. The Award includes a grant of £14,000 and a personal prize of £1,000.
  • Advanced Award: intended for candidates who have made a significant and sustained contribution in both research and leadership. The Award includes a grant of £11,000 and a personal prize of £4,000.

Please see Royal Society Pfizer Award for further details and to download the nomination forms. The deadline for nominations is Friday 13 February 2015, 6:00pm GMT

15 January 2015 
Academies call for long-term investments in the education and care of small children

The experiences we have as small children have a long-term impact on the entire course of our development. High-quality education and upbringing from an early age is thus crucial both for every individual and for society as a whole.

In their statement “Socialisation in early childhood ─ Biological, psychological, linguistic, sociological and economic perspectives”, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the National Academy of Science and Engineering, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities are therefore calling for long-term investments in the high-quality education and care of small children.

“Current research findings show that there are crucial time periods in early childhood when children must have certain learning experiences and encounters with their environment,” says Prof. Frank Rösler, Senior Professor of Biopsychology and Neuropsychology at Universität Hamburg and spokesperson for the “Socialisation in early childhood” working group. “Children who are denied these experiences will not be able to develop their full potential. They will not be able to acquire certain modes of behaviour later in life, or only to a limited extent.” Rösler states that this applies particularly to learning a language other than one’s mother tongue, and to developing social skills and the mental capabilities for subsequent acquisition of knowledge in school.

In their statement, the academies emphasise that opportunities for children whose family environments are less conducive to learning could be greatly improved. It is vital that the need for additional support is recognised at an early stage to make sure that adequate education and care are not only offered at a point when the children have already passed through these crucial development phases. The delayed provision of such measures will have little impact.

The researchers also recommend that education policy considerations pay greater attention to the close interplay between nature and nurture in children’s development. They point out that an individual’s IQ is not predetermined from birth. Rather, negative and positive environmental factors have a considerable influence on the development of an individual’s genetic predispositions. At the same time, predispositions do set certain limitations. This means that even given favourable education and training, not all people will attain the same intellectual capacity. This fact must be considered when devising early childhood education measures and in schooling and vocational training. Each individual should be fostered and challenged in a way that allows him or her to fully develop his or her own potential.

The researchers who contributed to the statement come from the fields of psychology, neurobiology, linguistics, education, sociology and economics. The working group compiled and evaluated findings from all these disciplines. The statement documents research findings on early childhood development and their social relevance that all the participating researchers defined as incontestable. The authors also emphasise the need for additional research, particularly in the form of long-term interdisciplinary studies to investigate the interrelationship between intellectual, emotional and social experiences in early childhood and the development of the brain over the course of individual lives, as well as the effect these individual development paths have on society.

The statement is freely available here

15 January 2015 Grants and Fellowships

Centre for the Study of Biodiversity in Amazonia - Call for Proposals 2015
The Centre for the Study of Biodiversity in Amazonia (CEBA) is a French Laboratory of Excellence based in French Guiana to foster knowledge on terrestrial biodiversity in Amazonia.  CEBA coordinates research capacity in France on the topic of Amazonian terrestrial biodiversity, and it fosters collaboration with South American and other international partners. Proposed projects must be coherent with CEBA's program of work, with priority for forward-looking interdisciplinary research. Funding is up to €20 thousand for one year. The application deadline is 23 January 2015
The German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) offers 60 doctoral scholarships annually to young scientists for research in environmental protection and nature conservation. The DBU accepts applications from Germany and internationally across natural and engineering sciences, social sciences, humanities, business and law, and interdisciplinary themes in support of sustainable development. DBU welcomes subjects of international importance, although the work has to be done mainly in Germany, with reference to the German environmental situation. The application deadlines are 15 January and 15 June of each year. 
The CAS-TWAS President’s PhD Fellowship Programme will support up to 200 students worldwide for PhD studies in China. The areas of concentration include agricultural sciences; biological systems; and several others. The maximum age for applicants is 35 years. Funding support is for up to four years. The application deadline is 31 March 2015. 
India's National Science Academy administers the JRD-Tata Fellowships to support visiting scientists from the developing world and promote South-South cooperation. The program is open to applicants from developing countries (except India) younger than age 45, and who possess doctorate or masters degrees in science or equivalent degrees in engineering/medicine. Past participants have included several in agriculture, biological sciences, and geo sciences. The fellowship is for three months and includes transportation, maintenance allowance, accommodation, and contingencies. The application deadlines are 30 April and 31 October of each year. 
The UNU-INRA invites applications for its visiting scholars program in the theme “Unleashing the Potential of African Rural Economies through Green Growth”. Up to ten visiting scholars will be selected to spend 3-4 months carrying out research at UNU-INRA headquarters in Ghana or at one of its operating units based in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Senegal, and Zambia. Applications are accepted from faculty members and researchers at African universities and other research institutions on the African continent, and who have a PhD degree in the relevant fields. The application deadline is 30 April 2015. 
With funding from Canada’s International Development Research Centre, UNU-INRA is undertaking a three-year project entitled “Unleashing the Potential of African Rural Economies through Green Growth”. The project will select 13 PhD interns to help provide evidence on how green growth strategies can influence employment, income generation, competitiveness, and social inclusion in rural Africa. Applicants should be African nationals who are enrolled in doctoral studies, most preferably at the later stages of their PhD programs. UNU-INRA accepts both Anglophone and Francophone applicants. The application deadline is 31 May 2015.
DAAD is partnering with the EC's Marie Curie Program to fund the new program, Postdoctoral Researchers International Mobility Experience (PRIME), for outstanding postdoctoral researchers across all disciplines and nationalities.  Funding is provided for 18 months, of which 12 months are spent abroad and 6 months at a German university. The funding consists of salaries instead of scholarships. DAAD's announcement includes a list of participating German universities. The deadline for applications is 1 February 2015.  
France's IRD collaborates with CIRAD, the French Embassy in Brazil, and three Brazilian states to sponsor GUYAMAZON for collaborative Amazonian research.  Research themes include biodiversity, terrestrial and forest ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, climate and health, agro-ecology and subsistence farming, renewable energy, and social sciences. Projects link researchers in France (especially the department of French Guyana) and the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Amapá, and Maranhão. The application deadline is 28 February 2015. 
ISTIC is partnering with TWAS (the World Academy of Sciences) to identify, reward, and disseminate best practices in science and technology that have helped advance economic development in the global South. The project invites abstracts of case studies from scientists, entrepreneurs, and others. ISTIC/TWAS will select 10-15 case studies for presentation in Malaysia in October 2015. The three best presentations will be awarded cash prizes ranging from US$2 thousand to US$5 thousand. The deadline for submitting case studies is 1 April 2015. 
The Association of Commonwealth Universities offers staff at ACU member universities the opportunity to attend a relevant conference in a Commonwealth country outside their home region. The scheme is aimed at early-career academics who have not yet had the opportunity to work, study, or travel outside their own country. Grants are up to £2 thousand. The closing date for the current round of applications is 22 February 2015. 
The ASM's African Graduate Student Research Fund makes awards to African nationals pursuing graduate degrees in mammalogy. Each of two awardees will receive US$1,500 and an online membership to the Society.  The application deadline is 1 March 2015.  
With funding by the UK's Department for international Development (DFID), the Capacity Building Program for Africa aims to facilitate multidisciplinary partnerships between research groups in Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. Research priorities are water and sanitation; renewable energy; and soil-related research. The program supports research expenses, travel and subsistence costs, PhD training, and limited funds for equipment. Program grants will support consortia consisting of three African groups and one UK-based laboratory. The application deadline is 19 March 2015. 
The John Ball Zoological Society makes grants to conserve wild animals and their habitats; to improve the management of captive animals; and to develop education programs related to these objectives. Most funded projects are in developing countries. Applicants can be of any nationality, and they should be associated with a recognized zoo, educational institution, conservation organization, etc. Grants generally range from US$500 to US$2,500. The deadline for applications is 1 March 2015.
The AAV makes grants for research addressing clinical aspects of exotic and wild birds -- including diagnostic tests, drug doses, practice management, and conservation. Grants are up to US$10 thousand for individual projects of one year. There are no nationality restrictions. The deadline for pre-proposals is 1 February 2015. 
WWF-US supports women conservationists in the Congo Basin for short-term training and for academic and technical degrees in conservation. Applicants must be citizens and permanent residents of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, or Republic of Congo.  Most training programs are for less than six months and are funded by grants up to US$5 thousand. Scholarships are for one year and up to US$10 thousand for study anywhere in the world. Applications can be submitted in either English or French.  For 2015, the application deadlines are 1 May and 1 August 2015.  
The U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) makes grants to mitigate negative impacts to coral reefs, and to improve the effectiveness of coral reef management. Grants are for projects in the USA and internationally.  The international priorities are Micronesia, Samoa and the Southwest Pacific, the Coral Triangle region, and the Wider Caribbean.  However, all international locations are eligible.   The deadline for pre-proposals is 3 February 2015. 
The PTES makes grants to scientific researchers and conservationists for work that helps preserve endangered species, either through research or applied field work. The program offers small grants between £3 thousand and £10 thousand per year for up to two years. The application deadline is 12 February 2015.  
TechWomen offers professional mentorship and exchange for emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in selected countries of the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The eligible countries are Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya,  Morocco, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.  TechWomen covers the costs of travel and accommodation for the program events in California and Washington, DC. The application deadline is 10 February 2015. 
The ISSC and several partners invite proposals for Transformative Knowledge Networks in support of the recently launched Transformations to Sustainability Program. The networks will emphasize that research on global environmental change and sustainability goes hand-in-hand with calls for deep social change.  Three Knowledge Networks will be supported with up to €900 thousand per network over three years. The Knowledge Networks will be led or co-led by social scientists in low- and middle-income countries. The application period is 2 February 2015 through 31 March 2015. 
The Australian government contributes to the education of talented individuals in the developing countries through its scholarship programs. Subject areas for study correspond to priorities of Australia's aid programs by regions and countries -- and include agriculture, energy, natural resources, and environment. The application deadline for 2016 scholarships in most Asian-Pacific countries is 30 April 2015, but with important exceptions (check carefully). 
The International Master of Science in Rural Development (IMRD) is a two-year master's program in rural development and agricultural economics, focusing on socioeconomic and institutional aspects.  The IMRD comprises a consortium of 16 participating universities in the EU, China, Ecuador, India, South Africa, and the USA.  The program invites qualified individuals from around the world to apply. The program offers Erasmus Mundus Scholarships as well as IMRD Consortium Scholarships.  The deadline to apply for scholarships is 15 March 2015. 
The UNU's Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) offers a three-year PhD program to produce scholars who will become key researchers in the field of sustainability science. The program seeks to incorporate perspectives on global change, specifically those related to climate change and biodiversity. The Japan Foundation offers the UNU Scholarship for outstanding applicants from developing countries who can demonstrate a need for financial assistance. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2015.
The Newton International Fellowships scheme invites researchers worldwide to apply for two years of post-doctoral support at UK institutions. The Fellowships are made in the physical, natural, and social sciences and humanities. For 2015, the Newton Fund will support additional researchers specifically from Brazil, China, Mexico, South Africa, and Turkey. The application deadline is 25 February 2015.
The United Nations University (UNU) offers PhD and postdoctoral fellowships to young scholars and policymakers, especially from the developing world.  One fellowships program is with the UNU's Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability; the other is with the UNU's Center for Policy Research. The research themes include ecosystem services; biodiversity conservation; water and urban development; governance for sustainable development; and others. There are no nationality requirements, but applicants should be fluent in English. The closing date for applications is 28 February 2015.
The GBIF presents the Young Researchers Award to foster innovative research and discovery in biodiversity informatics. For 2015, GBIF will present two awards of €4 thousand each to one master’s student and one doctoral student. Students must apply through and be nominated by a Head of Delegation of a GBIF participant country.  The deadline is 3 March 2015.  
New Zealand's government provides a variety of opportunities for training and university study through the New Zealand Aid Program, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The priorities often include agriculture, renewable energy, fisheries, disaster risk management, and other areas related to natural resources and environment. For individuals intending to pursue tertiary studies at any of the ten eligible New Zealand universities and institutes of technology, NZAID recommends applying for admission before 30 April 2015. However, application deadlines are specific to each country/regional program (check carefully). 
The BBVA Foundation annually makes awards to recognize innovative and fundamental advances in science, culture, and collaboration. Thematic areas include ecology and conservation biology; climate change; and development cooperation (among others). In each prize category, BBVA awards €400 thousand plus a diploma and a commemorative artwork. The awards are open to individuals and organizations of any nationality. The deadline for nominations is 30 June 2015.
ITTO makes grants through the Freezailah Fellowship Fund for training opportunities, demonstration tours, participation in conferences and workshops, preparation of technical papers, and post-graduate degrees. Grants up to US$10 thousand are in support of sustainable tropical forest management. Applicants are young and mid-career professionals in ITTO's member countries; most grants are to individuals in the developing countries. The deadline for the first application cycle in 2015 is 20 February 2015. 
The Nestlé Foundation supports research in human nutrition in low-income and lower middle-income countries.  The Foundation will consider research in areas such as food policy, food production (i.e., related to agricultural development), and food technology if the proposed interventions have high potential for sustainable improvement of nutritional status.  The Foundation offers training grants; pilot grants; small and large research grants; and re-entry grants to encourage the return of post-graduate students to their home countries.  Interested researchers are invited to submit letters of intent (LOIs) at any time.  
The University of Kassel in Germany collaborates with partner universities in Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan, and South Africa to comprise the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) as an interdisciplinary scientific network.  With funding by the German government, ICDD offers doctoral fellowships at the network's eight member universities in themes that integrate agricultural development, livelihoods, and rural welfare.  Applications are accepted from qualified citizens of all aid-recipient countries.  The selected PhD students will be based at the partner university they choose. Funding is for three years, with a possibility to extend for a fourth year. The application deadline is 15 February 2015. 
The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP) offers fellowships for graduate students from developing countries for agricultural research at universities in the USA. The program currently invites applications from citizens of USAID-assisted countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Each research project is coordinated by a university in the student's home country, a university in the USA, and a mentor in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The next application deadline is 31 March 2015. 
The International Wheat Yield Partnership is initiating its first competitive funding call. The aim is to to substantially increase the genetic yield potential of wheat by focusing on the four research topics identified in the call. Grants (cash and in-kind) are up to US$2 million over three years. The application period for pre-proposals is 15 January through 15 March 2015. 
The IPCC Scholarship Programme builds capacity in the understanding and management of climate change in developing countries by supporting young scientists from developing countries to undertake doctoral studies. Candidates must be citizens of developing countries no more than 30 years of age at the time of application. Priority is for applications submitted by students from Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. Support is a maximum of €15 thousand per year for up to two years. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2015. 
The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership comprises many of the world's largest energy companies in partnership with international organizations, development banks, institutes, and foundations. The program sponsors ESED (Education for Sustainable Energy Development) to support outstanding students from developing countries to pursue masters-level studies directly related to sustainable energy. The support is US$23 thousand per year for up to two years.  Applications are invited from any developing country on the list of ODA recipients. The next application deadline is 6 March 2015. 
The Global Water Alliance announces a competition for students and young professionals worldwide to showcase how women's participation is essential for successful water projects in rural and developing areas. The competition invites papers, journals, and videos related to this topic. Eligibility extends to individuals and teams. The winning entry will be awarded US$1 thousand and an invitation to present at the 7th World Water Forum in South Korea (travel and attendance costs are not covered in the award). The closing date for applications is 8 February 2015.
The Fiat Panis Foundation makes awards for university thesis and dissertation research in themes of agriculture and natural resources, with a focus on food security in developing countries. The Justus von Liebig Award for World Food is €25 thousand; the Hans Hartwig Ruthenberg Graduate Award is €7.5 thousand. The deadline for both awards is 30 April 2015. 

12 January 2015 German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes recommendations on handling changes in the life sciences

Modern high-throughput screening methods for analysing genetic information, proteins and metabolic products offer new ways of obtaining large quantities of data on life processes. These OMICS technologies, as they are known, are fuelling hopes of major advances in medicine, pharmacy, biochemistry, the food sciences and related fields. However, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has expressed concerns that Germany is failing to keep abreast of these developments. The Report on Tomorrow’s Science entitled “Life sciences in transition” sets out six recommendations on how existing deficiencies can be overcome and research and teaching better equipped for the challenges of modern life sciences.

OMICS technologies help today’s life scientists collect very large quantities of data on the genetic material, proteins and metabolic products of organisms. The extensive data will pave the way for new research approaches in developing individualised therapies, more productive crops and tailored microorganisms for applications such as cosmetics, medicine and food production. So far, however, the full potential of these enormous data stocks has hardly been exploited. The “Life sciences in transition” report therefore recommends closer cooperation between the life sciences and disciplines such as mathematics, computer science and engineering in handling big data.

“The opportunities now open to the life sciences are redefining requirements for the training of young researchers, for technical and IT equipment, networks between university and non-university research institutes, and the sustainable development of infrastructure,” says Prof. Jörg Hacker, President of the Leopoldina. According to the report, Germany is not sufficiently prepared for the challenges that are emerging in the life sciences. The recommendations include setting up a national OMICS and IT infrastructure and providing targeted support to young researchers in this field.

The Report on Tomorrow’s Science issued by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina addresses topics connected to the medium and long-term development of science that are particularly relevant to the relationship between science, politics and society. The paper was produced by one of the Leopoldina’s standing committees. Leopoldina committees help shape current scientific discussion in their specific field, advise on topics that are important for the future, and propose topics for discussion with policymakers and society.

Full report available here: The Report on Tomorrow’s Science “Life sciences in transition”

9 January 2015 Four Scientists/Managers positions at ICRISAT

Details on the vacancies here

For each of the positions, applications with a letter of motivation, a full Curriculum Vitae (with age, nationality, marital status), and the names and contact information of three references that are knowledgeable of the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience should be submitted on or before 20th January, 2015