Capacity building

From !khure

Capacity building initiative

Attendance of South African students of EURISPET

In 2007, a network of six academic institutions, 5 in Europe (IPGP, France; University of Padova, Italy; Eotvos University, Hungary; University of Granada, Spain; ETH Zurich, Switzerland) and one in Australia (ANU, Canberra) instigated the European Intensive Seminars of Petrology, or EURISPET, a set of six annual lectures aimed primarily at young researchers. The first of these, entitled “State-of-the-art analytical and imaging techniques in petrology”, was held in Paris on 20-27 October 2007, and was coordinated by Prof Pascal Philippot. The series is an EU initiative and part of the Marie Curie series of events.

Because of the involvement of the IPGP in the !Khure Africa programme, Prof Philippot offered 3 of the 30 places at the 2007 seminar to South African PhD students. The offer was widely advertised at all South African universities which have department of geology or geosciences, and also at para-statal research organisations which do geological research, such as the Council for Geoscience, and the Council for Mineral Technology. Three valid applications were received and these three candidates were offered the places. One-line CVs are appended to their photos below.

The attendees all returned full of praise for the experience. The benefits of their presence at the seminar are clearly considerable and can be grouped as follows:

  1. Exposure to first-world academic standards.
  2. Lectures by international leaders in their respective analytical fields.
  3. New knowledge of cutting edge technology.
  4. Hands-on experience of the instruments by visits to the laboratories that house them.
  5. A chance to become part of the international network of young scientists.

The advantage of the seminar is not confined to the three attendees only. Their knowledge and experience has been disseminated to the larger South African geo-analytical community via informal discussions with superiors and colleagues and, in the case of Prof. Viljoen, formal interaction with his students. It is hoped that this interaction will be intensified by way of a formal report-back meeting of the participants with all interested parties doing relevant analytical work in South Africa, or who have the need for micro- and/or nano-methods for their research. The meeting could take the form of a mini-seminar during which the three participants can summarise the techniques they were exposed to at the EURISPET seminar, and their applications to geological applications. Such a meeting could happen under the auspices of !Khure Africa and would ensure the lasting success, and wider dissemination of the benefits, of this capacity building initiative.