Institute aims to find ‘African Einstein’

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Canadian High Commissioner, Gaston Barban, speaking at the African Institute for Mathematics and Science (AIMS) in Muizenberg. Photo: Jason Boud

Cape Town - The search is on for the next scientific genius.

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (Aims) in Muizenberg, which finds and then trains top scientists and mathematicians from across Africa, has a new programme to nurture scientific and technical talent.

This was announced by the Canadian High Commissioner to South Africa, Gaston Barban, at the Aims centre in Muizenberg this week.

Aims was founded in Cape Town 10 years ago by Neil Turok while he was professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University. The programme annually recruits students from all over Africa for a postgraduate training and research programmes taught by international lectures.

With a R181-million cash injection from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010, Aims has established five centres across Africa, including in Senegal and Ghana. Every year, 110 talented students graduate from the Aims network on a full scholarship.

Director of Aims SA Professor Barry Green said after an online pan-African recruitment process, 60 students were chosen for this year from among 500 applicants from 33 countries.

“We believe in growing a network of students who will develop to be key role players in mathematical sciences in South Africa and Africa.

“The programme seeks to nurture Africa’s brightest graduates in the hope of discovering an ‘African Einstein’.”

Last year, 31 percent of the 442 graduates from 35 African countries were women.

Barban said: “The Aims New Einstein Initiative is on its way to become a truly pan-African centre for excellence. I am pleased to see the private sector supporting the placement programme. This is a win-win initiative for both companies and the graduates.” - Cape Argus

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