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South Africa: CSIR Hosts a Workshop on Human Capital Development in Nanotechnology Risk Assessment
Source: CSIR e-News - November 2013
Source Date: Friday, November 29, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 29, 2013

The development of human capital in the area of risk assessment related to materials and products manufactured using nanotechnology constitutes a key element of the National Nanotechnology Strategy and the Nanotechnology Implementation Plan published by DST. Pioneering this initiative at the CSIR is principal researcher in nanotechnology environmental impacts research group, Dr Ndeke Musee. He indicated that the impressive work showcased at this workshop was an outcome of the CSIR’s efforts in this field since 2007.
“We have to develop a critical mass of human capital with requisite skills and competencies to conduct world-class research on the risks of nanotechnology. This platform provides us with an opportunity to gauge our progress not only in enrolling students into the field, but our readiness to respond to industry needs,” indicated Musee.
Research on nanotechnology risk assessment at the CSIR has grown steadily and now boasts four Doctoral and four Masters’ students registered at various universities in South Africa, a feat that the Executive Director of CSIR Natural Resources, Prof May Hermanus, hails. “The workshop represents an important element of any human capital development strategy – creating a community of specialists who learn from each other, support one another and provide sustenance for their individual and collective work. In essence, it is about building a critical mass of skilled people in the field of nanotechnology risk assessment and their sense of a place within a larger community of their peers,” she said.
“Our goal is to create a community of practice in the nanotechnology risk assessment research field so as to cultivate a sustained platform for professional interaction between the scientists. We also want to create an opportunity for stakeholder interactions in the field, as well as develop professionals out of our crop of postgraduate students,” explains Musee.
A spinoff from the workshop is the creation of an online platform that will allow for continued interaction and sharing of scholarly articles and papers. Melusi Thwala, a Doctoral student at the CSIR and part of the workshop organising team, expressed his excitement at the prospect of continuous engagement with his fellow scientists: “The workshop provided a good platform for us to be exposed to the great work done by our counterparts in this field; and the perspectives provided by invited speakers was highly valuable in motivating emerging scientists. These bode well for our future.”
Musee concluded by challenging all stakeholders to actively support this much-needed area of research if the objective of promoting safe, responsible and sustainable exploitation of nanotechnology capabilities is to be achieved in South Africa. “It will be important for all stakeholders to invest in these talented young professionals and to ensure that they do not just possess the requisite skills, but also the essential and dedicated equipment and laboratories.”
Dr N. Musee

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