Friday 21 October 2016

Knowledge Exchange Visit to the UK for SA Women in Science

Five South African young female researchers have been given a career building opportunity to meet with leading UK experts in science communication, which include the Royal Society and the British Science Writers Association. The researchers will attend the Best Practice in Science Communication UK study tour from 24-28 October 2016, a culmination of the Women in Science project, which is part of the British Council’s Professional Development and Engagement (PDE) programme, under the Newton Fund.

Mikateko Höppener, a post-doctoral Fellow at the University of the Free State, is one of the participants selected from 25 early career female researchers and scientists for the UK visit.  She sees the knowledge exchange visit as an opportunity to expand opportunities for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “I hope to return with ideas on how to create diverse pathways for women in STEM to become public-good professionals in South Africa,” said Höppener.

Participants will be exposed to an international networking platform to exchange experiences and learn best practice in the field, ultimately building their capacity to influence science communication policy makers in South Africa.

“This delegation of top-class researchers – all at the early stage of their careers – represents the future face of South African science and innovation in the world.  I’m proud that they’ve chosen to connect with their counterparts in the UK and I know that there is a great deal of learning that will take place on both sides.  This also strengthens important ties between Higher Education Institutions in both countries, which will be vital in our increasingly connected world," said Colm McGivern, Director, British Council South Africa.  

The tour is made possible by the UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Newton Fund and the Department of Science and Technology, which is delivered in partnership between the British Council and the Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf). “ASSAf greatly appreciates the opportunity to have been involved in this initiative as it aligns closely with the Academy’s goals of nurturing the next generation of scientists and increasing opportunities for young women. We congratulate those who have been selected and we are confident that they will be excellent ambassadors,” said Professor Roseanne Diab, ASSAf’s Executive Officer.

Notes to Editor

The selected participants taking part in the Best Practice in Science Communication-UK Study Tour are:

  • Tamlyn Seunanden: Researcher at the Health Systems Trust (HST); Masters in Social Science, specialising in Research Psychology.
  • Nokuthula Vilakhathi: Post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being (IFNuW); PhD in Human Nutrition.
  • Valentine Saasa, PhD candidate at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); Masters in Biochemistry.
  • Kim Gurwitz: Training and Outreach Officer, University of Cape Town (UCT) branch of H3ABioNet – the pan-African Bioinformatics Network; Masters in Medical Biochemistry.
  • Mikateko Hoppenar: Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED), University of the Free State; PhD in Development Studies.

About Newton Fund

The Newton Fund is managed by UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners in collaboration with 16 partner countries. It promotes the economic development and welfare in partnering countries, through science and innovation partnerships. It aims to strengthen science and innovation capacity and unlock further funding to support poverty alleviation. For more information visit:  and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund

About The Academy of Science of South Africa

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is the official national academy of science and represents the country in the international community of science academies. As collective resource, the Academy enables the generation of evidence-based solutions to national problems. The strategic priorities of the Academy are closely matched to those of the nation, focusing particularly on the need for the greatly enhanced availability of high-level human capital and an increased use of the country’s best intellectual expertise in generating evidence-based policy advice that is practical and feasible. You can keep in touch with the Academy of Science of South Africa through Twitter and Facebook:

For more information, please contact:

Prof Roseanne Diab: Executive Officer-Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Tel: +27 31 764 6410 | M: +27 83 284 3008 | Email:

Patricia Scholtz: Communication Manager-Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
Tel: +27 12 349 6618 | M: +27 82 550 0757 | Email: 

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.

For more information, please contact:

Anisa Khan, Newton Fund and Higher Education Programme Manager, British Council
Email:  | Tel: +2711 560 9322 | M: +2782 783 8430

Moagisi Sibanda, Newton Fund Projects and Communications Manager, British Council
Email:  | Tel: +2711 560 9325 | M: +2782 295 1581