SAIP Webinar 20 November 2020: The African Light Source: Towards a brighter future

The African Light Source: Towards a brighter future

Speaker: Prof Simon Connel - University of Johannesburg / Chairperson - African Light Source Foundation


Connel                         Connel 2


The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is one of the most transformative large-scale infrastructures for knowledge and innovation based sustainable socioeconomic development of the African Continent. An ALS has a broad footprint in many disciplines that include physics, chemistry, bioscience, materials science, nanoscience, geoscience, heritage science, environmental science, medical science, all fields of engineering and industrial manufacturing. A few examples are highlighted: The current SARS-Cov-2 pandemic has emphasised the crucial role of ALS’s for the elucidation of viral structure and identification of drug and vaccine targets and the subsequent development of medical interventions. This was also true for HIV-Aids. An ALS is also seen as a most crucial contribution for African scientists to provide solutions for the disease burden specific to the African continent. The ALS has revolutionised the field of Heritage Sciences. Here Africa is the cradle of both humankind and human culture. It is crucial that Africa can play a leading role in Heritage Research. The ALS has a crucial role in the beneficiation of the mineral wealth of Africa, and development of new energy materials, which then also deserves special attention by African geologists and materials scientists. This presentation will highlight the 4th Generation ALS and the African Light Source Foundation, with its mandated Roadmap to realise this goal for Africa.

Speacker Brief CV:

Prof Connell is professor of physics at the University of Johannesburg. He has research interests in Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Energy, Materials Science, Quantum Physics, High Performance Computing and Applied (innovation) Physics. His rating by the SA Research Funding Agency (NRF) cites him as having “considerable international recognition”. He is a past president of the South African Institute of Physics. He is the founding member of the South African participation in High Energy Physics at the ATLAS Experiment at CERN, where with his group he participates in a Beyond Standard Model search as well as engineering and technical activities. He has published over 150 papers in International Journals and is also an ATLAS author. He has worked for many years at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF). He is interested in technology for competitive industry and in innovation and has a project on the intelligent sensor based sorting of diamond in kimberlite, which is now being commercialized. A current major activity in the service of the discipline is the development of the South African user base for Light Sources, (these are premier international multi-disciplinary research tools) and the implementation of the roadmap towards the African Light Source.

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