The State of Young Scientists

  • GloSyS Survey- Global Young Academy
Convener: Bernard Slippers
Academics, employers, and policy makers recognize the importance of global networks for achieving scientific excellence and solving international problems. Young scientists occupy a unique and pivotal position in this regard. Widely recognized as being among the most creative and energetic researchers, young scientists can also be more mobile and better trained than ever before. They thus constitute a vast pool of global talent that stands to change the geography of knowledge in fundamental ways. Young scientists also play an increasingly important role in the new knowledge economy, where research and innovation are the drivers of economic growth, socioeconomic development and enlightenment for countries around the world. Young scientists are often the key innovators and creators that provide the intellectual capital needed to grow strong national research and innovation systems. Understanding precisely how young researchers can succeed in and contribute to the knowledge landscape, and what obstacles they encounter in the process across the world is the subject of the GloSYS project. By exploring the global state of young scientists and identifying their opportunities and concerns, the GloSYS project aims to initiate change and catalyze improvement in the global system of science. SAYAS is partnering with the GYA to develop a project investigating the state of young scientists in Africa.
More information on this GYA project can be found here.
  • The postgraduate survey
Convener: Alta Schutte
A flagship SAYAS initiative begun in 2012, SAYAS launched the ‘SAYAS Survey of Young Scientists’, an online survey completed by Honours, Masters and Doctoral students and Postdoctoral Fellows in South Africa. The survey aimed to provide a deeper understanding of the profile and general needs of young scientists in the country for alignment of strategic activities targeting their support and development. Between September 2012 and January 2013, 1021 young scientists completed the survey and the results have been published in a report that was launched during the 2013 SAYAS General Assembly. The most interesting finding was that a total of 43% of Honours, Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral respondents indicated that the reason for performing their postgraduate studies is that they wanted to pursue an academic career. This figure elevated to 58% in the categories of PhD's and Postdoctoral scholars. This highlights a knowledge gap regarding the developmental needs of the country (e.g. industry) and career planning by postgraduate students. These results will be shared in detail with the DST, NRF, SAASTA and other key stakeholders. SAYAS envisages this as a 2 yearly survey, which will dovetail with a planned survey of post-doctoral fellows in South Africa. These surveys will inform SAYAS activities for the future.
This report can be found here.
  • Research leaders development programme
Conveners: Sershen Naidoo and Jeff Murugan
This project combines the format of workshops and guides targeting young academics and focuses on the soft skills that young and emerging researchers need to transition from early to mid-career. 

Science for Policy
  • Breakfast with a scientist/ bacon and eggheads programme
Convener: Jeff Murugan
A parliamentary outreach project to engage parliamentarians with scientists in the hope of driving an emphasis on evidence-base policy decisions in South Africa has been envisioned. This is modeled on a similar, highly successful initiative by our partners in Canada.
  • Water roundtable
Convener: Sershen Naidoo
In 2013, SAYAS and ASSAf hosted a water roundtable discussion as a side-event during the Third Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security, and Climate Change in Johannesburg. The roundtable focused on water security in Africa and discussed the challenges, obstacles and potential solutions around water security in Africa. These kinds of events are implemented to spark new ideas for research endeavours, and contribute to current debate on critical issues in South Africa and the continent
  • Families in science: to Parent or not to parent
Convener: Bronwyn Myers
Discusses the challenges faced by young scientist mothers and fathers to identify recommendations for better synergies between family and science in the workplace.
  • Science and society
Convener: Alex Broadbent
Implemented in the form of workshops and a blog, this project focuses on contributing to the critical understanding of the nature of science amongst scientists and non-scientists. 

Schools Outreach
  • Bridging Programme
ConvenerTiri Chinyoka
Brings together senior undergraduates and postgraduates to train grade 12 learners from disadvantaged to schools to prepare them for university, they also offer Saturday classes.
  • Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Awareness
Focused on promoting the uptake of nanoscience and nanotechnology amongst learners in South Africa.
  • Mentoring
Convener: Rapela Maphanga
Three activities are linked to this project with a focus on adopting schools, empowering teachers, and a focus on education for girls. Inquiry based science education methods will be adopted.More information inquiry based science education can be found here.
  • National Science Week
SAYAS partners with the Academy of Science of South Africa to implement the Department of Science and Technology’s National Science Week activities annually. We give lectures, motivate learners, share experiences with teachers, and have fun doing various experiments.  Check it out on our photo gallery.
  • Science Spaza
In partnership with Jive Media Africa, Science Spaza is an initiative which aims to establish and support a network of science clubs throughout South Africa to get learners and educators excited about science through hands-on engagement supported with appropriate resources.