Monday 14 August 2017

This women’s month, an exciting event which aims to enlighten and inspire the country’s future scientists, awaits 80 female learners from Ivory Park Secondary and Tshwane Secondary School. The event which takes on 15 August 2017, at the Department of Science and Technology (DST) science auditorium, forms part of the department’s 2017 Women’s Month Programme of activities, and is hosted in partnership with the British Council.

The grade 10 and 11 learners who take mathematics and science at school, have been invited to engage with three female scientists and FameLab South Africa alumni, who will not only present their captivating talks from the science communication competition, but they will also share their personal stories of how they chose their particular areas of science research. Talks will include iris biometrics - the science behind how some smartphones can now scan, recognise your eye and unlock the mobile device; how density and flotation can be applied to mining and wastereduction; and how aeronautical engineers at the CSIR help advance the design of aeroplanes. Learners will also be taken on an exclusive tour of the CSIR wind tunnel facilities to see this research in action.

Imagine exploring coral reefs or the surface of Mars in just one morning. This will be part of the exciting demonstration of Google’s virtual reality technology, the Google Cardboard, a platform developed by Google that is used with a smartphone and the Google Expeditions app, to take field trips to virtually anywhere in the world. Throughout the programme, there will be opportunities for the future scientists to engage in a Q&A with expert speakers. Learners will leave having learnt how advancements in science and technology impact real life.

Time: 08h00-13h00

Venue: DST Science Auditorium (DST Building),627 Meiring Naudé Road, Brummeria, Pretoria

R.S.V.P: To confirm attendance please contact Nthabi Msomi,, 012 843 6720 | 082 944 0015

Media Enquiries: Moagisi Sibanda,; 011 560 9325 |082 295 1581


Gugulethu Mabuza-Hocquet

Gugu is currently wrapping up her PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, specialising in Iris Biometrics. Her current research which is titled, “Reconnaissance and assessment of iris features towards human iris classification”, focuses on studying the science behind the human iris, and involves using maths tools to identify certain iris features with the aim of classifying human irises according to ethnicity and gender. She has already published and presented most of her research work internationally. She holds a Masters degree in Telecommunications (M-Tech) which she obtained Cum Laude from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). She also holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree from ESIEE Paris, in France. Her academic work and experience in the science field won her a South African Women in Science Award in 2011. Gugu was the first runner-up in of FameLab South Africa 2014 and is currently a brand ambassador of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where she is sponsored and based full-time for her PhD studies.

Karen Ann Walstra

Karen Ann Walstra is a passionate educationalist, who promotes creative thinking, incorporating digital tools, to address educational and learning transformation. She worked for Google from 2014 to April 2017 within the emerging markets “Education Go Digital” and Chrome OS teams, both globally and across Sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a Masters in Education, from the University of the Witwatersrand, focusing on Educational Technology. She is an accredited Education, Training and Development Assessor and Moderator. After her successful twenty-nine year career as a classroom teacher, Karen decided it was time for a change and became an independent education consultant. She has presented at many local and international conferences on Design and Technology, and Educational Technology. She is an author. She coordinated, assisted in developing and trained on large scale outreach programmes such as St Stithians College’s Thandulwazi Teacher and Leader Development Programme, and the Click Foundation Learner Reading project. She is a teacher at heart, wanting to see effective education transformation, for each learner.

Nanji Sheni

Nanji Sheni completed her BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and proceeded to do her MSc with the Centre for Minerals Research (CMR) of the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT. Her MSc thesis focused on the electrochemistry of flotation in Minerals Processing. Nanji currently works at Mintek as an Engineer-in-Training. She enjoys good books, idea generation talks and meeting new people. She is passionate about young people finding and having all they can to achieve their God-given purpose in life, as well as finding African solutions to African problems. She competed in FameLab South Africa 2017 and finished as the runner-up in the South African finals. Her experience in FameLab led her to being invited to speak about science communication at the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor’s, first annual Youth in Science and Technology Indaba, in June 2017. Nanji is an alumnus of the Brightest Young Minds 2016 and a founding member of the Shalom Christian Mission International Polokwane Young Professionals youth group, which focuses on helping youth become the full-rounded individuals God has called them to be.

Janine Schoombie

Janine Schoombie is an Aeronautical Engineer working for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where she conducts research in aerodynamics. She graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After completing a Master’s degree in Aerodynamics from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015, she spent 13 months on Marion Island collecting data for the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, before returning to Pretoria in 2016 where she is based.

Notes to Editor

About FameLab

FameLab® was started in 2005 in the UK by Cheltenham Science Festivals and is a successful model for identifying, training and mentoring scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for their subjects with the public. It is implemented by the British Council, together with local partners, in over 31 countries, including Mauritius, Uganda, the USA, Brazil, Thailand, Qatar and Kazakhstan to name a few. In SA, the competition is implemented in partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (a business unit of the National Research Foundation) and Jive Media Africa.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. You can keep in touch with the British Council through Twitter: @zaBritish and Facebook: British Council South Africa