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Interview with the special ambassador of the Year of Science, Motsi Mabuse
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Photo gallery: Closing Event in Berlin 16/04/2013

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Neville Alexander Memorial Fund

Dr Neville Edward Alexander, in a speech
Former South African revolutionary, Dr Neville Edward Alexander ((c) Herman Agenbag)

On the occasion of the German-South African Year of Science, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has launched the ‘Neville Alexander Memorial Fund’ with support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The selection of winners was recently completed: Three of the six prizes go to South Africans.

The special initiative is dedicated to the former Humboldt scholar Professor Neville Alexander, a comrade of Nelson Mandela. In April 2012, Professor Alexander opened a joint conference of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which was also supported by the BMBF, at the start of the German-South African Year of Science in Cape Town. Immediately afterwards, he began his research residence in Germany at the invitation of the Humboldt Foundation; however, he was forced to cancel this due to a serious illness. Professor Alexander died in August 2012 at the age of 76. The memorial fund in his name is directed at scientists in South Africa and other African countries by calling on the way that, as a researcher, he was committed to establishing independent capacities in education and research far beyond national boundaries.

The Neville Alexander Memorial Fund is focussed on three aspects:

  1. The financing of an "institutional partnership for promoting the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES)". AGNES unites outstanding African scientists with close links to Germany (Humboldt scholars) who, along with their German co-operation partners, represent ideal ‘bridgeheads’ for German-African scientific co-operation. The institutional partnership aims to promote the following goals:
    • the creation of a cross-regional contact structure to strengthen scientific excellence in Africa,
    • the promotion of regional integration and specialist exchange among the leading powers in science in Africa and their German co-operation partners and
    • the introduction of young scientists to the research location that is Germany.
    Support for this latter goal includes the "African-German Network of Excellence in Science Grant for Junior Researchers", which is awarded by AGNES to 15 post-doctorate students. The financial award is accompanied by support from experienced scientific mentors.

  2. The awarding of three "Humboldt Alumni Awards for Innovative Networking Initiatives by the African-German Network of Excellence in Science". The awards, which are valued at €25,000, were presented to select projects that are particularly suited to promoting the development and expansion of AGNES:
    • Prof. Dr. Samuel G.K. ADIKU, Ghana, "Towards the Establishment of an Effective Humboldt Network in Ghana"
    • Prof. Dr. Hamadi I. BOGA, Kenia, "A Network for Capacity Building in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics in Eastern Africa"
    • Dr. Heather G. MARCO, South Africa, "Tri-Nations Network to Promote Modern Approaches to the Study of Biological Diversity: South Africa-Namibia-Germany"

  3. The presentation of "Humboldt research awards in memory of Neville Alexander" to three outstanding African researchers whose fundamental discoveries: the South African psychiatrist, Soraya Seedat, the South African elementary particle physicist Cesareo Augusto Dominguez and Kenyan Joseph Owuor Lalah (Environmental Toxicology). They will provide important impetus for research-based solutions for major challenges in emerging and developing countries. The Humboldt Research Award is endowed with €60,000. The winners are invited to carry out research in Germany and to collaborate with colleagues.