South African Young Academy of Science



Find out what these young South African scientists have to say about meeting their Nobel Laureate heroes at the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Germany. Video Below:



The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has successfully nominated 20 top young scientists from South Africa to attend the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to physics later this year in Lindau, Germany.

ASSAf, as the official partner of the Lindau Foundation and with funding from the Department of Science and Technology, annually nominates young scientists to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings which are designed as a forum for young scientists from all over the world to have an in-depth exchange with Nobel Laureates. South Africa is also this year’s host country and will have the opportunity to present itself as a research nation on the International Day during the meeting week.

The South African young scientists are: Tariq Blecher, Rhodes University/Square Kilometre Array (SKA); Stive Djiokop, Nelson Mandela University (NMU); Jake Gordin, University of Cape Town (UCT); Thandi Gumede, University of the Free State (UFS); Arthur Harrisson, University of Pretoria (UP); Julia Healy, UCT/ South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO); Jan Louw, Stellenbosch University; Genevéve Marx, NMU; Itumeleng Monageng, UCT/ South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO); Francis Otieno, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits); Valentine Saasa, UP/Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); Michael Sarkis, Wits; Hester Schutte, North-West University (NWU); Katekani Shingange, UFS; Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN); Kimeel Sooknunan, UCT; Tanita Ramburuth-Hurt, Wits; Johannes Thiersen, NWU; Nicole Thomas, University of the Western Cape (UWC)/ SARAO; Danielle Venter, NMU.

Two additional SA young scientists will also attend: Pontsho Mbule,  University of South Africa (UNISA) and Nonkululeko Radebe,  Karlsrhue Insitute of Technology (KIT), Germany. Pontsho was nominated by The World Academy of Sciences and Nonkululeko through the Open process.

They will join 580 young scientists from 88 countries who will participate from 30 June to 5 July 2019, along with 42 Nobel laureates in this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have been held annually at Lindau, Germany, since 1951.

Successful participants are outstanding undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral students under 35 years of age, in the field of physics, which is the focus of this year’s meeting. Key topics will be cosmology, laser physics and gravitational waves.

They were selected after a multi-stage international selection process. The selected young scientists may expect a six-day programme with numerous lectures and panel discussions. Many see the chance to present their own research work at one of the master classes or at the poster session as a special opportunity.

Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer of ASSAf, was pleased that 20 South African young scientists (ten females, and ten males) will be attending this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.  “These scholars will serve as ambassadors for the country in the area of physics and at the International Day that SA is hosting. They have an opportunity to engage with Nobel Laureates and other scholars in their field and I hope that the young scientists will take advantage of these interactions and use the opportunity to build networks for future collaborative research.”

Access more information on the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting at:

Over the years, young scientists have been nominated by the Academy of South Africa (ASSAf) to participate in various events, symposia and conferences, both within South Africa and internationally, and have also been nominated for prestigious awards. This is part of ASSAf’s capacity building initiatives and its responsibility to foster the next generation of leading scholars and to involve young scientists in finding solutions to national and global challenges through science.

ASSAf started engaging with the Lindau Laureate Foundation in 2013. The academy worked with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) to nominate over 24 young scientists to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. The involvement with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings comes as a result of the recognition of the importance of the uniqueness of these meetings and their impact on tomorrow’s academic elite from all over the world. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings align with the mandate of ASSAf to honour distinguished scholars in all fields of scientific enquiry, including women and young scientists, and to generate evidence-based solutions to national and global challenges.

In July 2015, ASSAf signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lindau Foundation and the DST, which has led to the academy being recognised as the nominating partner of the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings. This implies that ASSAf can nominate leading young scientists in the disciplines of physics, chemistry, and medicine/physiology; and recommend them for final selection by the Lindau Foundation. The academy also provides them with travel support and raises awareness of the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings among young scientists in South Africa.

In this regard, ASSAf has created a network of Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in South Africa (and Africa) so that they engage with other young scientist opportunities including what the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) is doing. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings also link young scientists with science journalist. Each year a science journalist is nominated to accompany the young scientist to Lindau Germany A send-off event is also organised annually where senior officials of the Department of Science and Technology and ASSAf as well as various representatives from organisations in the National System of Innovation and former attendees of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings address the new selected participants.

ASSAf as an Academic Partner

  • Academic partners to the Lindau Nobel Lareate Meetings are worldwide network of excellence
  • ASSAf is one of the world wide academic partners of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings since 2015
  • Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings cooperates with more than 200 of the most renowned science and research institutions in about 65 countries that they call academic partners
  • The role is to identify the most qualified participants- young scientists below 35 years of age
  • There are advantages to be nominated by an academic partners than applying directly
  • Promoting and inspiring young scientists is important to the academic partners and to Lindau Foundation
  • Nomination does not guarantee participation as the final word is with the Lindau Foundation
  • The network of academic partners is expanding and this is governed through Memorandum of Understanding
  • Academic partners advance the internationalisation process of the Lindau Meetings
  • Requirements: Masters, PhD, Post Doc: Top 5% of class, below 35 years, CV and publication history- recommendation
  • Application has two processes:
    (1) Regular: Apply when the call comes out in September or October. Nomination by the Academic partner that organizes an internal selection committee that involves SAYAS, the Department of Science and Technology and ASSAf members. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Council and Foundation then conduct a further vetting process.
    (2) Exceptional: Apply directly to Lindau Foundation where the Academic partner is not involved.

Involvement of the candidate in other extra mural activities makes a different. The candidate should prove beyond doubt that they are the best of the best and will engage on equal footing with counterparts from all over the world as well as interact with Nobel Laureates.

The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Physiology/Medicine

The ASSAf nominated delegates to Lindau in 2018 were: Ms Blessing Ahiante (North-West University (NWU)), Ms Shireen Mentor (University of the Western Cape), Ms Edith Phalane (NWU), Ms Zimkitha Soji (University of Fort Hare), Dr Eileen Thomas (Stellenbosch University), and Dr Bianca Verlinden (University of Pretoria).

Other South African delegates this year included Mr Keith Ncube, Ms Elsa Nolte and Dr Michelle Visagie (all from the University of Pretoria) and Dr Balindiwe Sishi (Stellenbosch University).

The young scientists took their first steps towards the prestigious 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in May. ASSAf hosted this year’s delegates, along with Alumni of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and dignitaries from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation, at a two-day send-off meeting in Pretoria held on 10 May 2018.

Prof Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer at ASSAf, welcomed the delegates, reminding them of the opportunity and responsibility that lies ahead. She described the goal of the event, which will be held in Lindau, Germany in June 2018.

“The Lindau meetings foster exchange between scientists and Nobel Laureates in the most wonderful setting. But remember that an event like this calls for an elevated presence of self.”

The setting is the picturesque island of Lindau, in southern Germany, where Nobel Laureates and young scientists from around the world have been convening annually since 1951 to discuss Physics, Medicine, and Chemistry alternatively. The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting will focus on Physiology and Medicine, and so South Africa’s delegates all come from varying medical research fields.

ASSAf’s delegates to the meeting are all female at PhD or postdoctoral level, from universities around South Africa. Some, like Dr Eileen Thomas from University of Stellenbosch, are already medical doctors and are now focusing on medical research. She is looking for biological signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in rape victims, in order to diagnose the disorder and start treatment sooner. Others are interested in more basic research, like Edith Phalane from NWU, who is looking at heart disease in HIV patients.

Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) presented the keynote address at the send-off meeting, noting how research has the power to influence South African and global public health policy. She reminded delegates that the scourge of HIV is far from over, and that young people are at risk.

“They say young people are the future, but I say young people are the present,” she said.  “We need to worry about young people with HIV right now; we can’t afford to lose half the population before the age of 30.”

The South African Lindau Alumni and DST officials took the time to remind delegates of the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. They will be South African ambassadors as they go to Lindau to meet more than 600 fellow young scientists from all over the world. Dr Hlamulo Makelane, a delegate in 2017, is proof of that – she was selected to give the closing address on behalf of all the delegates to Lindau last year (Access the video here). She represented her country proudly and her career has thrived because of the opportunities afforded at Lindau in 2017.

“Being a female scientist at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting opened a lot of doors for me,” she said. She is now an outspoken supporter of women in science, in South Africa and globally.

The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting and 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences

Five South Africans were among 400 young scientists from 76 countries selected to participate in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, held from 25 – 30 June 2017. They were: Dr Hlamulo Makelane, University of the Western Cape; Frederick Malan, University of Pretoria; Funeka Nkosi, University of the Witwatersrand/CSIR; Retha Peach, North-West University, and Dr Mark Williams-Wynn, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

An especially proud moment during this meeting was at the closure when Dr Hlamulo Makelane was selected to make the closing remarks on the last of the meeting. Access her inspiring speech at:


One young South African economist represented the country at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences held from 22 – 26 August 2017. Ms Rozanne Bester, MCom student in Economics at the University of Pretoria was nominated by ASSAf. Bester was among 350 international young economists from 66 countries who will took part in the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences together with 18 Laureates of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.


Some of the South African participants at the 66th Meeting on Physics with one of the Nobel Laureates

Participants welcoming the Nobel Laureates at the 66th Meeting

The South African participants soaking up the experience with one of the Nobel Laureates

Prof Roseanne Diab, ASSAf Executive Officer addressing members of the Lindau Foundation

The South African delegation hosted Prof William Phillips, the 1997 Nobel Prize winner in Physics and his wife at a lunch

Mr Stanley Maphosa, ASSAf Liaison Manager at a Breakfast meeting with other African delegates

The Lindau Foundation banner as the town of Lindau welcomes the Young scientists

Related articles from the 68th Lindau Meeting are:

  1. Pre-Travel Meeting. Access here
  2. 68th Lindau Meeting opens with ambitious plan for global research agreement. Access here
  3. The clock, the brain and the fly: the story of circadian rhythms. Access here
  4. Does genome editing mean progress or peril for the future of human health? Access here
  5. African researchers making change on their own terms. Access here
  6. South Africa shines at Lindau. Access here

Related articles from the 67th Lindau Meeting are:

  1. Pre-Travel Meeting. Access here
  2. Five steps to winning a Nobel Prize. Access here
  3. African solutions to the malaria problem. Access here
  4. Knowledge, inspiration, connection: the legacy of Lindau 2017. Access here
  5. Climate change and the next generation of scientific endeavour at Lindau. Access here