2023 Annual Young Scientists’ Conference: Advancing Sustainable Development Through Basic Science Research

The South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) was launched in 2011 as the voice of young South African scientists, and provides a platform that allows leading young scientists to influence national policy and to co-create strategic initiatives and partnerships for a better tomorrow. SAYAS is co-chaired by Prof. Thashree Marimuthu (University of the Witwatersrand) and Prof. Dustin van der Haar (University of Johannesburg), and comprises of early to mid-career researchers with PhD degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) fields. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosts and provides secretariat function for SAYAS.

SAYAS, in collaboration with the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), ASSAf and the University of Venda (UNIVEN), will be hosting the 2023 Annual Young Scientists’ Conference on the 12 – 13th June 2023 at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, Limpopo province. The partnership network for the 2023 AYS Conference includes Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (https://www.wits.ac.za/waddp/), Aspen Pharmacare and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). This is aligned with the SAYAS strategic planning where partnerships with academia, industry and research councils will be emphasized to co-create opportunities to support emerging researchers in South Africa. The primary funders of the conference are ASSAf and the DSI, whilst Aspen Pharmacare will provide additional financial support that will allow 10 young scientists to attend the 2023 conference.

The theme for the 2023 conference is Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development with a focus on (1) Innovation in health and biomedical sciences, (2) The climate-water-energy-food nexus, (3) Clean energy and water research, (4) Education and research in basic sciences, (5) Artificial intelligence, machine and deep learning, and (6) Biodiversity and agriculture. The conference is aligned with the principles of UNESCO’s International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD), and serves to strengthen the presence and visibility of women, promotes basic sciences as sources of international dialogue and peace for the global public good, and fosters innovation, education, economic and human development to meet global challenges. The 2023 conference will provide an interactive space where 58 young scientists and emerging researchers from over 20 Universities and Research Councils across South Africa will showcase their research and connect with emerging and established researchers and all categories of stakeholders from grassroots communities to political decision makers, international leaders, associations, students, and local authorities.


The conference will feature the following keynote speakers: (i) Prof. Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, CEO: National Research Foundation (NRF), (ii) Dr. Stavros Nicolaou, Group Senior Executive: Aspen Pharmacare, (iii) Dr. Palesa Sekhejane, Director: Strategic Partnerships at HSRC, (iv) Prof. Nosisi Feza Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Post Graduate Studies UNIVEN, and (v) Prof. Thokozani Majozi, Executive Dean: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, WITS), as well as a forum discussion hosted by SAYAS in collaboration with the South African Chapter of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD). Pre-conference events include ASSAf Institutional Roadshow. Post-conference activities include SAYAS and ASSAf science outreach with invited school learners at the Vuwani Science Resource Centre (UNIVEN), and a SAYAS webinar celebrating Youth Month.