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Mathematics and gender, nanofibres and immunity against COVID-19
Author: Media & Communication, Faculty of Science
Published: 07/08/2020

The Faculty of Science has a number of events planned for National Science Week which this year is taking place from 27 July to 31 August.

South Africa's National Science Week (NSW) is an annual celebration of science, engineering and technology, attracting thousands of learners and members of the public to workshops, science shows and lectures, which are held at universities, schools, science centres and public facilities countrywide, led by the Department of Science and Technology. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of these events will take place online.

Here is a summary of the Faculty of Science's events:

Rethinking gender in mathematics – Monday 10 August 2020, 12:00-13:00

Dr Eugenia Cheng will be the guest speaker at the African Women in Mathematics (AWI) seminar on 10 August. Dr Cheng is an accomplished mathematician, pianist and writer of several books, including A Mathematician's manifesto for rethinking genderHow to bake Pi (2015), Beyond Infinity (2017) and The Art of Logic in an Illogical World (2018). Cheng is scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is honorary fellow at the University of Sheffield and honorary visiting fellow at City University, London. Learn more about her in this in-depth biographic interview on the BBC's Life Scientific. The aim of the online African Women in Mathematics seminar is to showcase African women mathematicians, while featuring international speakers of interest. It provides a forum for women mathematicians from across Africa to meet regularly, be inspired, and to meet peers from across the world. The annual seminar is hosted by Stellenbosch University's Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Anybody with an interest in mathematics and gender are welcome to attend the online seminar. Register at

From Invention to commercialisation: an entrepreneurial journey with nanofibers – Tuesday 11 August, 17:30-18:30

Dr Eugene Smit, CEO of the Stellenbosch Nanofiber Com pany, will share his journey from scientist and inventor to entrepreneur and businessman. The webinar is co-hosted by the Stellenbosch University Launchlab and the Faculty of Science.

Register at

Building long-term immunity against COVID-19

Are antibodies our body's only defence for building immunity against re-infection with COVID-19? Not at all, argues emeritus professor Dirk Bellstedt, a biochemist and immunologist from Stellenbosch University. In this online Science Café, he talks about the different strategies our immune system can employ against infections, as well as recent research which shows that there is indeed a good indication of building up of cellular immunity after a COVID-19 infection. Contrary to prior reports, this means that our immune system is capable of fighting off the virus, and that these mechanisms will offer protection against re-infection. It is therefore time to put the prophets of doom and gloom to rest, and augers well for those working against time to develop a new vaccine.

More about the speaker

Dirk Uwe Bellstedt is an emeritus professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Stellenbosch University. For the past 35 years he worked in the field of evolutionary biology, including viral evolution. His research into the development of  methods for the detection of immune responses to vaccines in experimental animals and ostriches have led to optimal vaccination schedules again Newcastle Disease Virus and a vaccine against mycoplasma infections. This research field is continued under the leadership of one of his former doctoral students, Dr Annelise Botes. Since the 1980s, immunology as a field expanded massively, with Nobel Prizes awarded in 1984, 1987, 1996 and 2018 for breakthroughs in the field. These developments have given immunologists significant insights into the current COVID-19 epidemic.

Format: MS Teams Meeting

Register here:  Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

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