National Society of Black Physicists

5-Jul-08 5:00 AM  EST  

NSBP Participates in Sullivan Summit S&T Workshop 

Dr. Kennedy Reed, a former president of NSBP, and Dr. Adrian Hightower recently participated in  pre-Sullivan Summit Science and Technology Workshop in Arusha, Tanzania.   The two-day workshop was held immediately prior to the Leon H. Sullivan Summit VIII and was sponsored by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, with assistance from the U.S. Department of State.

The workshop was aimed at promoting cooperation and interaction between African and American scientists, particularly in the physical sciences.

“The idea was to try to bring a select group of scientists and science policymakers [together] with their African counterparts … to try to discuss ways of activating collaboration,” according to Dr. Osama O. Awadelkarim, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State University.

The outcomes of the workshop were immediately reported to the delegates of the 2008 Leon H. Sullivan Summit.  The Sullivan Summits bring together political and business leaders, civil society and multinational leaders as well as members of academic institutions to focus attention and resources on Africa’s development.  Seven African Heads of State attended this year’s summit.

The resolutions that emerged from the workshop called for the creation of national and Pan-African science foundations and innovation funds that provide merit-based funding for science and engineering,  the establishment of new and strengthening of existing African institutions of science and technology, and the promotion of conditions conducive to the creation, utilization and retention of scientific and engineering talent in Africa.

NSBP was recognized as having had a particularly strong impact on the development of formal U.S.-Africa exchange programs as well as public, private and university partnership that are integrated with local African networks, two ideas that were also amongst the workshop resolutions.  NSBP members at Harvard University, MIT, Howard University, Hampton University, Florida A&M University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland at College Park, Lawrence Livermore National Lab,  Clark Atlanta University, Southern University at Baton Rouge, North Carolina A&T State University, Western Kentucky University and many other places have built and maintained strong collaborations with colleagues in Africa.

Princeton University professor, Dr. Wole Sobeyjo,  discussed his highly successful US-Africa Materials Institute.  The institute is a network of US and African researchers working on problems in thin films, biomaterials, and advanced structural materials.   With NSF funding the institute supports scientific visits and workshops on both sides of the Atlantic.   The institute also has a library of web-based learning tools on various topics in materials science.

Last year when NSBP won a Kellogg Foundation grant to increase the number of Black South African astronomers, Vanderbilt University, where grant co-PI, Dr. Charles McGruder, currently chair of NSBP's international affairs committee and also a former president of NSBP, is an adjunct professor, committed funds for its physics and astronomy faculty to partner with South African colleagues. 

In just 12 months Vanderbilt professor and NSBP Condensed Matter and Materials Physics Section Chair, Dr. James Dickerson, has a couple of manuscripts in preparation, and has one patent pending with his South African colleague.   A team of Fisk and Vanderbilt students led by Professor Keivan Stassun has built a telescope that will  be shipped to the South African Astronomical Observatory.  Astronomers on both continents will use it in one of the hottest areas in astronomy – the hunt for earth-like planets circling other stars.

The Vanderbilt program also includes student exchanges, a Vanderbilt student is already in South Africa, and a University of Cape Town student is due in Nashville in one month.

"We are looking forward to building upon our legacy," says McGruder, "including continuing the great work of EBASI, supporting researchers, our sister-societies and institutions on the continent, and extending our reach to mathematics, chemistry, biosciences and engineering."


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