Monday, 08 July 2019 marked the official opening of the 64th South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) Conference. The 64th SAIP Conference which is hosted by the University of Venda (Univen) is currently underway at The Ranch Hotel, few kilometers outside Polokwane until Friday, 12 July 2019.

The 64th SAIP Conference consists of 360 presentations; 68 posters; seven exhibitors and sponsors. All South African universities including two Universities of Technologies (TUT and CPUT) are participating in this conference. African universities from Tanzania and Botswana are among participating universities. Internationally, universities from United Kingdom and USA are also participating.

Participating research institutions include CSIR; iThemba Labs; Square Kilometer Array (SKA) and South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Government institutions include National Research Foundation (NRF); Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA).

SAIP President, Prof Patrick Woudt who is also a Professor and Head of Department of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town thanked Univen for hosting this well organised conference. He further welcomed physicists and everyone who will be participating in this conference and international visitors for coming to South Africa to attend this conference. He encouraged participants to make this event one of the best and told them to engage and learn a lot form each other. “Make use of this opportunity to start one of the networks that will strengthen your knowledge and make SAIP grow annually. This meeting is an opportunity for all of you especially students.”

Among other things, Prof Woudt spoke about highlights that participants should look forward to this week. His highlights included matters relating to Physics in Industry day WiPiSA lunch; Physics Bowl – 4th edition – tradition; A huge range of exciting talks in the forums and divisions tracks. He spoke about activities of the SAIP which included the Teacher development programme (Vhembe district – Limpopo/Venda); teacher development workshop that will be taking place next week and monitoring and evaluation workshop for SAIP projects Leaders and Tanzanian Physical Society Leaders, the workshop is organised by the Institute of Physics -UK. Prof Woudt wished all a wonderful conference and thanked everyone for coming.

Dr Eric Maluta who is the Chair of the Local Organising Committee of SAIP Conference welcomed all delegates to the 64th SAIP conference. He said it was
not easy to organize a conference of this caliber, but it was worth to be prepared for. Dr Maluta who is the Head of the Department of Physics encouraged delegates to learn as much as they can through presentations, posters and engaging with each other.

As the Keynote Speaker, when welcoming delegates, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Prof Jan Ernst Crafford expressed that Univen is privileged to host the 64th SAIP Conference. He continued to mention that, Univen is honored to have visitors from all over the world. He said Univen is doing well in terms of performance in Physics. “We have produced several physicists who are already making differences out there and we are proud of them.” He commended Dr Maluta and his team for the hard work, commitment and for being dedicated during preparations of this workshop.

“I am happy to see most attendees of this workshop being young people. This means mentors are doing a very good job.” He commended physics mentors and told them to continue producing more knowledgeable physicists. Prof Crafford welcomed all and encouraged them to have long conversations and engagements about physics.

Dr Joseph Kirui from Univen’s Department Physics has in his closing message congratulated Dr Maluta and his team for making this conference come together. He also thanked all sponsors, visitors, students and delegates from all institutions represented. He mentioned that the Physics Department, SAIP, and organizers of this conference are excited to have the full support from Univen hence the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic even honored the invitation to welcome the visitors.

The conference aims to serve as a forum to promote Human Capital Development for skills in physics for the continued development of South Africa’s research and teaching capability. This will be achieved by exposing students and researchers to the wide range of physics programmes within South Africa and to the current cutting-edge research activities throughout the world. The conference will further contribute to knowledge generation as delegates share research results, collaborate to solve research problems and establish research networks. Delegates involved in Physics Education will have the opportunity to identify challenges and possible solutions in Science and Mathematics at Schools, Universities and Colleges. The conference further aims to promote physics research as an important and exciting science frontier and to provide a platform for understanding the needs of areas such as nanotechnology, nuclear sciences, biosciences, industry, mining, medicine, agriculture, energy, space science, and in general technology and environment issues.

Ms Sophie Mulaudzi introducing the keynote speaker, Prof Jan Crafford

Dr David Tinarwo who was the Master of Ceremony

On Tuesday Morning, 09 July 2019, during the first plenary session, Prof Patricia Whitelock who is the South African Astronomical Observatory in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town was awarded the SAIP De Beers Gold Medal Award. The SAIP Gold award is awarded for outstanding achievement in any of the following facets of branch of Physics: Research, education, technology, and industrial development. Prof Whitelock is an NRF A-Rated Researcher who research in Astronomy and Astrophysics. She also research about late stages of stellar evolution, mass-loss of evolved stars and milky way galaxy.

Prof Whitelock said she feels very honored to receive the medal. “it is very special to be recognized by my fellow physicists in this way. My various activities, research and otherwise, have all been in collaboration with others, and I consider myself fortunate to have worked with some wonderful people. Perhaps the most important thing I did was to bring people together.” She continued to mention that it has been good to see physics and SAIP develop the way that they have since the “Future of Physics Initiative” and it is great to see so many women in the audience today.

“There are many exciting opportunities in physics now, but one of the most important things we must do for the future is put more effort into the schools and the teachers who play a crucial role in introducing physics to young people.”

L-R: Dr Eric Maluta, Prof Patricia Whitelock, Ms. Priscilla Nemaangani and Prof Patrick Woudt posing for a photo after presentation of an award to Prof Whitelock.

Members of the Local Organizing Committee posing for a group photo

Some of the former first class of Physics in 1988 at Univen posing for a photo with Dr Maluta.

L-R: Professor Azwinndini Muronga, Professor Rudzani Nemutudi, Mr Peter Mukwevho and Mr Tovhowani Maswime.

Delegates at the Plenary session listening to the speaker.

Issued by:
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 10 July 2019

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