African Physics Newsletter

Mini-African School on Electronic Structure Methods and Applications

Post graduate students and senior researchers from 8 African counties gathered in Kigali to master the behavior of electrons.

Close to 28 participants, from 8 African countries, congregated at the ICTP-EAIFR for the exceptional learning week at the University of Rwanda–Nyarugenge Campus. The school focused on Electronic Structure Theory in-depth, with an emphasis on both theory and hands-on sessions.

Ralph Gebauer and Omololu Akin-Ojo sparked the interest of the participants with their grip and mastery of the field. The school enabled new collaborations and the participants were able to share the deep knowledge acquired in their home countries.

A five-day intense school

The ICTP-East African Institute for Fundamental Research, a category two UNESCO institute grown from a collaboration among the Ministry of Education of Rwanda, ICTP and the University of Rwanda, was privileged to host MASESMA, the Mini-African School on Electronic Structure Methods and Applications, from 11th to 15th November 2019. Participants from Kenya, Togo, Ethiopia, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Rwanda took part in the five-day intense school.

The School took place in the Einstein block with lectures taking place between 08:30 hours and 18:00 hours: a long and fruitful day. It was organized to train researchers in the fundamentals of the behavior of electrons (“electronic structure”) that can be useful in predicting properties of chemical compounds and helpful in discovering new materials.

Quantum simulations and approximations

Omololu Akin-Ojo is from the African University of Science and Technology in Abuja, and Ralph Gebauer is from ICTP. Both were critical in the dissemination of knowledge in the school. The participants, who included both post-graduate students and senior researchers, were taken through Quantum Atomistic Simulations, Born-Oppenheimer approximation, Hartree-Fock and Slater determinants -just a few of many topics.

The school received immense support from Rwanda’s Ministry of Education, ICTP and the University of Rwanda. One of the many achievements of the school was the fact that the learners were able to grasp the daily lectures delivered.

Participants got good scores

This was evident from the scores of the participants in the daily examinations. Another important success indicator was that at the end of the school, participants were able to successfully perform calculations using the open source Quantum ESPRESSO code.

The participants were also given a chance to showcase their current findings and on-going works through the poster sessions. At the end of the school, each participant was awarded a certificate and shared in a resolution to conduct good science through collaborations.

Happy computing!

James Sifuna and Victor Odari

This article has first been published by the African Physics Newsletter. © American Physical Society, 2020

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