NRF-iThemba LABS brings world-class researchers together in Cape Town

NRF-iThemba LABS brings world-class researchers together in Cape Town

The 28th International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC2022) was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), South Africa from 11 to 16 September 2022. The event was hosted by Dr Faïҫal Azaïez (National Research Foundation’s iThemba LABS) and Prof Mathis Wiedeking (NRF-iThemba LABS and the University of the Witwatersrand). This was the first time that the conference was held on the African continent, and more specifically in South Africa’s multicultural, history-rich melting pot, Cape Town. The INPC, which is held every three years and overseen by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), coincided with three major scientific events, namely the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD), the centenary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Prof Niels Bohr, and the 100-year celebration of the establishment of the IUPAP.

Dr Michel Spiro, President of IUPAP, addressed the delegates via a recorded message before the conference was opened by Dr Clifford Nxomani, NRF Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Research Infrastructure and Platforms

This was also the first and largest in-person gathering of the nuclear physics research community following the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference was attended by 468 delegates from 35 countries and provided an excellent opportunity for delegates to explore the latest progress in the field, and to re-connect with colleagues. The scientific programme comprised of 30 plenary presentations on the most recent highlights and advances in the field, which included a presentation on neutrino-less double beta decay experiments by the 2015 Nobel Prize laureate, Dr Arthur McDonald.

Over the last decade, enormous progress has been made to unravel the fundamental nature of hadrons and nuclei and their applications. Delegates were able to share the latest research work, techniques, experiences, challenges, and innovative solutions with colleagues from around the world. As such, the conference programme spanned a wide range of topics across the breadth of Nuclear Physics – from hadrons to nuclei, and from fundamental science to applications. A total of 321 presentations and 69 posters were presented during various topical sessions. The local impact of the conference was evident as South Africa had the highest number of registered delegates, a total of 100, participating in the conference. Another impressive statistic was the diversity of the delegates with approximately one-third of the delegates and speakers being female and one-quarter students.

The conference provided for high-quality scientific presentations, robust discussions, and the opportunity to inspire and unlock young talent. Prof Ani Aprahamian, the Chair of the IUPAP C12 Committee, awarded three IUPAP Young Investigator Prizes for the best student presentations at the INPC2022. The awards were presented at the Gala Dinner and the recipients were Dr Carlo Bruno (University of Edinburgh), Dr Ronald Fernando Garcia Ruiz (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Dr Volodymyr Vovchenko (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).

Even though the conference created an opportunity for specialists to engage, a special effort was made by the organisers to ensure that the reach was beyond the delegates. A captivating public lecture on “The search for our cosmic origin: a 13.8 billion-year journey through collisions, collapses and stellar explosions” was presented by Prof Jordi Jose from  UPC Barcelona. In addition, an outreach workshop, titled “Building the Universe one nucleus at a time”, was offered in partnership with Binding Blocks and facilitated by Dr Christian Diget from the University of York.  The interactive workshop was attended by 24 natural and physical science educators from the Metropole South Education District.

The local organising committee would like to acknowledge the sponsorships received from the South African National Convention Bureau, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, Metrological and Applied Sciences University Research Unit, IUPAP, NuPECC, ACF Metals, XIA and IBA.

The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea was announced as the next host for the INPC in 2025.

Related Posts