Embassy series update: ASSAf supports the Italian Research Day in the World

Embassy series update: ASSAf supports the Italian Research Day in the World
“This event opened a window to the roots, mystery and beauty of our common origin as human beings and the exceptional cultural and scientific value of the Sterkfontein caves – the world heritage site next door”, said participants of the Italian Research Day in the World.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in partnership with the Italian Embassy in South Africa, South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement(SAASTA), and the University of the  Witwatersrand (Wits), hosted this event at the Origins Centre at Wits on 15 April 2021 to mark the occasion of the Italian Research Day. 

Prof Lynn Morris, newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, welcomed all to the Origin Centre and Wits. His Excellence Paolo Cuculi, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa, opened the event that focussed on The Origin and Evolution of Humankind.

Prof Himla Soodyall, Executive Officer, ASSAf, addressed the learners on the Phylogenetic Tree of Humans and Prof Dominic Stratford, Wits, followed with a session on the Sterkfontein Caves: a Cultural Heritage Site for the World. 

Under the theme of remote sensing and cultural heritage and specifically at the Cradle of Humankind, Dr Stefania Merlo, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, spoke on Modern Surveying Techniques in Archaeology, while Prof Giuseppe Salemi, University of Padua, Italy, focussed on Surveying and digitalisation of the Sterkfontein Caves.

The Italian Research Day in the World was concluded with the learners following In the Footprints of Ms Ples – a tour of the Origin Centre.

The event was attended by learners from Mamelodi High School, Ivory Park High School and Edward Pathudi Secondary School. These learners indicated that they have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.  SAASTA arranged for the students to attend and all COVID-19 protocols were followed.

This engagement also contributed to ASSAf’s science engagement strategy of communicating science to young learners and given them the opportunity to engage with scientists in the field.