The Nanotechnology Platform Workshop, co-ordinated by Dr Vincent Nyamori with a few of his colleagues through the School of Chemistry and Physics, was a closed call for University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academics and research staff who have an interest in the field of nanotechnology.
The primary aim was to bring together researchers from across the world in the field of nanotechnology to work on one platform and advance the nanotechnology community at UKZN. It is hoped that this workshop will allow UKZN participants to collaborate and work on agreed theme(s) to generate the platform within the global nanotechnology sphere that will be recognised nationally and preferably internationally too.
The workshop was officially opened by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Deogratius Jaganyi.
It was facilitated by well-versed researchers in the “nanofield” including Professor Barry Sanders (Director, Institute for Quantum Science and Technology, University of Calgary); Dr Zivayi Chiguvare (Director Renewable Energy and energy Efficiency Institute, Polytechnic of Namibia); Professor Suprakas Sinha Ray (Chief Research Scientist and Director, DST/CSIR Nanotechnology Innovation Centre), Professor Neil J Coville (Centre of Excellence for Strong Materials, School of Chemistry, University of the Witwatersrand), Professor M Maaza (Chairman NANOAFNET), Professor Ijeoma F Uchegbu (Chair in Pharmaceutical Nanoscience, Department of Pharmaceutics, UCL School of Pharmacy) and Dr Anthon P Botha (TechnoScene (Pty) Ltd).
The 44 participants, who included researchers from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science and the College of Health Sciences, were encouraged to identify niche nanotechnology research areas and build strong teams of collaborators relating to chemistry, physics, materials, engineering, medicine and nanomaterials science, among other fields.
In addition, the aim of the workshop was to understand how other platforms and centres operate and if possible strengthen ties with various national centres involved with nano-research and link-up with existing SARCHi Chairs. UKZN’s Dr Vincent Nyamori said: ‘The final results of the programme were to devise the strategy for the way forward for the platform. The facilitators visited the various laboratories and facilities available at the University and were very impressed.’
Dr Louis Jimenez of the Antiviral Research Group said: ‘Congratulations for such a great effort to develop the first nanotechnology workshop at UKZN. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of a novel productive environment for the University.’
Professor Maaza, said: ‘I wish to express my congratulations for all the arrangements and the benefit in sharing with you the birth of the UKZN nano platform. It is indeed inspiring to see such a high profile and multidisciplinary singular and original research.’
Nyamori said: ‘The workshop gave us an opportunity to see our common goal, and an insight on how we can coalesce to the various efforts and interests within the field of nanotechnology, from fundamentals to applications, and end on one stage, the UKZN nano-platform. The detailed report and the outcome of the workshop are still being processed and we hope this will gives us the direction to the next step on this new and very interesting venture.’