Nurturing talent in Africa

The first African School of Physics draws to a close tomorrow, and I’m proud that CERN has been a part of it. From an initiative launched by Fermilab scientist Christine Darve, the African School of Physics has grown to involve institutes and universities from all over Europe and the United States.


It’s being hosted by South Africa’s National Institute for Theoretical Physics, NITheP, at Stellenbosch, and has attracted 150 applicants from all over the continent and beyond for the 65 places available. That alone makes it a success, even before NITheP Director Frederik Scholtz uttered his words of welcome nearly three weeks ago..

When I show people the map of where CERN’s users come from, it’s gratifying to see it spanning the world, and in particular to see southern hemisphere countries starting to join the global particle physics family. Africa, however, remains notable more for the number of countries that are not involved than for those that are. What this school has brought home very clearly is that there is the talent and the will in Africa to engage in advanced scientific education, and indeed with fundamental physics in general. Already at CERN, we have 51 African scientists involved with our programmes, with 18 of them coming from African institutes. This year we also welcomed our first Summer Students and Doctoral Students from Morocco. It’s a start, and it is a trend that I hope to encourage. Over the coming years, I look forward to seeing our users' map fully representing the depth and breadth of African talent that this first school has revealed.



Rolf Heuer