African Physics Newsletter

Nine young African scientists complete three-month internships at Brookhaven Lab

The African School of Physics follows its alumni with mentorship and also now with internships at research laboratories abroad.

Since its inception in 2010, the biennial African School of Physics (ASP) has produced 320 alumni. From 2014 to the present, about 40 percent of the alumni are women.

The organizers of the ASP developed a mentorship program to help the alumni and track their scientific or professional development. The ASP mentorship program works—in collaboration with students’ academic advisors—by pairing the alumni with physicists who have lectured at the school.

The alumni and their mentors are also surveyed periodically for feedback. This allows the organizers to address questions such as, “What happens to the students after they have attended ASP?” or “Where are they now?” The answers to the questions help improve the ASP to support the education and research priorities of African countries, and to address retention issues.

An extended programme with internships

In 2019, the mentorship has been extended with a post-ASP program: select alumni at the MSc or PhD levels are placed at research laboratories for short-term visits of three months. The alumni are integrated into projects consistent with their academic research; they work under the supervisions of laboratory staff physicists in their respective groups.

Their participation in this program is discussed with and supported by their academic advisors. At the end of their visits, they return to their home institutions. Through the post-ASP program, nine ASP student alumni came to Brookhaven National Lab (BNL), arriving between June and August 2019. They are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, BNL, and the U.S. ATLAS collaboration.

Young African scientists integrated into Brookhaven research teams

Three of the alumni are at the MSc level, four are working toward their PhD, and two are recent PhD graduates. They are integrated into various research groups at BNL, namely: medical isotope research and production (one alumnus), ATLAS (three), high performance computing (one), neutrino physics (two), astro and cosmology theory (one) and National Synchrotron Light Source II (one).

Students are selected to attend ASP based on criteria that take into account requirements from funding agencies, gender balance, geographical balance, support for least-developed countries, and competence. Subsequent selection into the post-ASP program considers a match between the research interest of the alumnus and his/her advisor and that of a group at a laboratory.

We thank the Department of Energy, BNL, and United States ATLAS for the support. We also thank the BNL physicists who have been advising the students. We hope that the support for the post-ASP program will continue to grow, and in the future, we will be able to place ASP alumni not only at BNL, but also at other national laboratories.

The next edition of ASP will take in Morocco on July 5-25, 2020.

Kétévi Adiklè Assamagan, Brookhaven National Laboratory

This article has first been published in the African Physics Newsletter.


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