Two young NRF-rated researchers have just accomplished yet another milestone in their already flourishing careers. They recently represented South Africa at a prestigious global meeting which brings together Nobel Laureates and fellow scholars at the 14th HOPE Meeting held in Tsukuba City in Japan. The NRF nominated the duo for the meeting due to their exceptional research in their fields.
Important global platform
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) has been hosting HOPE Meetings annually since 2008. It is a vital platform that brings together doctoral students and young researchers selected from countries and areas in the Asia-Pacific and African region to engage in interdisciplinary discussions with Nobel Laureates and other scientists. The focus areas of the meetings include physics, chemistry, medicine and physiology.
Highly regarded in their own institutions
They researchers are Dr Lebo Gafane-Matemane and Dr Ncediwe Ndube-Tsolekile and both have been accorded the NRF Y-rating status. The former is an associate professor at the North West University (NWU)’s Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART). Her research focuses on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) and hypertension in populations of African ancestry. She is also a fellow of the International Society of Hypertension (ISHF) and the department of higher education and training’s Future Professors Programme.
Dr Gafane-Matemane is also part of the ISH Training and Mentorship Committee, South African National Committee of the International Union for Physiological Sciences (IUPS) and on the board of the Southern African Hypertension Society and serve as one of executive directors for the Childhood Hypertension Consortium of South Africa (CHCSA).
Her counterpart, Dr Ndube-Tsolekile is attached to the chemistry department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). She is currently a chemistry lecturer after she attained her doctorate in chemistry in 2020. Her research focuses on the synthesis and application of nanomaterials in lateral flow assays and cancer theranostics.
Dr Gafane-Matemane says being nominated by NRF is an honour and that she hopes this will inspire other young and emerging young South African scientists. She says representing South Africa at such an august event and becoming the voice of young scientists was a privilege and a rewarding experience. Dr Ndube-Tsolekile echoed her fellow researcher’s sentiments. She also says she feels humbled and honoured to get a nod from the NRF. “Representing the country in a prestigious event such as this and meeting with Nobel Laureates is a great privilege”, she adds.
Ideal networking opportunities
Dr Gafane-Matemane says she used the platform to exchange ideas on actions needed to achieve SDG target 3.4, whose aim is to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases. She also shared her knowledge on hypertension, a leading cause of death worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries such as those in Africa and South Asia, bearing a disproportionate burden. The meeting programme provides opportunities for networking with colleagues from other countries. In addition, this also opens avenues to forge long-term collaborations with other participants.
Dr Ndube-Tsolekile says the meeting afforded her an opportunity to participate meaningfully in lively and enlightening discussions with her peers across the globe in the material science field. She says she used the event to build international partnerships and also enhances her international profile. In addition, she used the platform to market her research team and her institution.
Young researchers from across the globe
Other young doctoral researchers and students who were part of the event hail from countries such as:
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- Vietnam and Israel.
Dr Ndube-Tsolekile and Dr Gafane-Matemane say they will impart the knowledge gained from the Nobel Laureates to their colleagues and students in South Africa.