African Physics Newsletter

The Alumni of the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications

Former students of the biennial school are fully active in a permanent program.

Since its inception in 2010, the biennial African School of Physics has produced over four hundred alumni from various African countries. To date, ASP has been organized in five African Countries: South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, and Namibia.

The 2020 edition, originally scheduled to take place in Morocco, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; it has has been rescheduled as an online version for July 19-30, 2021, and later in the year an in-person physics conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, on December 12-18, 2021.

Mentorship program

In between schools, the ASP committee arranges a mentorship program, in collaboration with the students’ academic advisors, to stay connected with the alumni and help in their academic or professional developments. A networking platform is also maintained to exchange information on education and research opportunities.

Every four years, the ASP committee surveys all the alumni. The mentorship, networking, and surveys allow us to answer questions such as “Where are the alumni now?” or “What happens to the students after they attend ASP?” These are important questions, whose answers help gauge the impact of ASP.

Enrichment for research

About 60% of the alumni continue their education in their home countries, 20% go to other Africa countries, and the rest go to Europe (10%), North America (7%) and Asia (3%). Fifty percent (50%) of the alumni say that their research was enriched through professional contacts made at ASP conferences; of the rest, 25% are undergraduates that have not yet started research and the others are majors in fields not well covered during their ASP—the scientific program is designed to align with the major research and education directions of the host country.

Alumni seminar series

Since 2010, many alumni have obtained the doctorate degree or are very close to finishing. To better understand their Ph.D. or postdoc activities and increase professional networking, the ASP committee has designed a seminar series where the speakers are exclusively alumni at the Ph.D. or postdoctoral level.

We have had speakers with affiliations in institutes in the U.S., South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Finland, Madagascar, Morocco, etc.

Diversity of topics

On February 16, 2021, there has been an online seminar by Dr. Chilufya Mwewa from Zambia; she is an alumna of ASP2010 and currently a postdoc at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Dr. Mwewa talked about the “Observation of the electroweak production of two same-sign W bosons in proton-proton collisions with the ATLAS detector,” based on her Ph.D. thesis work.

We have had seminars on topics in high energy physics, medical physics, materials physics, fluid and plasma physics, astrophysics and cosmology, nuclear physics, etc., and these reflect the diverse background of the alumni. The seminars draw participation from all over Africa and beyond, consistent with the geographical distribution and migration of alumni as seen from the aforementioned surveys. This seminar series has become a permanent activity in the ASP program.

Many other activities

In addition to the mentorship program, the other ASP activities include:

  • Lectures, tutorials and workshops for the selected students;
  • Outreach for secondary school pupils;
  • A workshop for high school teachers;
  • A Conference on Fundamental Physics and Applications (ACP), to attract ASP alumni, international participants, education and research faculties not directly involved in ASP, July 20-24, 2020;
  • A forum to discuss capacity development and retention.

The 2022 edition of ASP will take place at the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa.

Kétévi Adiklè Assamagan, Brookhaven National Laboratory

This article has first been published by the African Physics Newsletter - ©American Physical Society, 2021


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