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Growing Materials Science in Africa – The Case of the African School for Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA)

  • George Amolo (a1), Nithaya Chetty (a2), Ali Hassanali (a3), Daniel Joubert (a4), Richard Martin (a5) and Sandro Scandolo (a3)...


Materials science is arguably the most important discipline in the physical sciences that should be developed in Africa given its rich resources of minerals, energy and biological diversity. Developing materials science should therefore be an important goal for Africa with important opportunities for economic benefits and quality people development. There are already many successful materials science activities that are underway in Africa. This needs to gain wider international attention and should become contact points for international collaborations. The African School for Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA)[1,2,3,4] is one such successful initiative that has been in existence for the past decade. ASESMA has shown that it is possible to build a network across sub-Saharan Africa with world-class research with a relatively low budget. The greatest asset is the commitment of the lecturers and mentors, the team-work of the local organisers and the idealism of the participants who rank amongst the brightest of young minds from Africa, many of whom come from impoverished backgrounds but still dare to reach for the stars.


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[1]Material progress in Africa, Chetty, Nithaya, Martin, Richard M. and Scandolo, Sandro, Nature Physics 6, 1 (2010)
[2]Raising the scientific level and networking in Africa, Feder, T., Physics Today 64, 28 (2011)
[3]Mentoring a Generation of Materials Scientists in Africa, Amolo, George and Martin, Richard M., Newsletter of the Forum for International Physics of the APS (Spring 2015),
[4]Theoretical Physics is Much More than Equations: Origins of the African School for Electronic Structure Methods and Applications, by Martin, Richard M., APS News, December 2016,
[7]Michael Levitt did his undergraduate chemistry degree at the University of Pretoria.



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