Science and Innovation in Africa

Date & time: 3.30–5am 1 December 2016, AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Location:   TBC  

Discover how ANU researchers are working with partners in Africa to equip them with the skills needed to eradicate disease and foster science innovation in their communities.

This will include insights into the life work of a remarkable scientist, Emeritus Fellow Dr Howard Bradbury AM.  

Finding out that the only food you had available to feed your children was sometimes killing them would be a parent's worst nightmare. But this is exactly what Dr Bradbury confirmed when researching the cassava root.

If prepared incorrectly, cassava can produce a poisonous cyanide compound. In the worst case scenario this compound can lead to death, but even non-lethal doses can result in the crippling upper motor neuron disease, konzo. 

Since this discovery, Dr Bradbury has worked to eradicate konzo in 16 villages in Africa. This achievement was only made possible by providing health practitioners with both an easy method for testing for cyanide, and the science communication skills needed to encourage communities to use this method as part of their daily routines.

The panel will also discuss the case study of Science Circus Africa, which aims to make science fun and inspire future careers, sustainable impacts and innovation.

The project, funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Questacon and ANU, has resulted in 359 local African staff being trained to perform their own science shows using everyday equipment such as bicarb soda, beach balls and magnets. This project has now reached 68,310 people in seven countries.

Panellists include:

  • Professor Bill Foley, Leader Animal-Plant Interactions Lab, ANU Research School of Biology.
  • Mr Gboyega Adeniran, PhD Candidate, Water Governance, ANU Centre for European Studies
  • Dr Graham Walker, Science Circus Africa Project Officer, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • Mr Matthew Neuhaus, senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, currently Assistant Secretary, Africa Branch.

The discussion will be facilitated by Dr Kamalini Lokuge, ANU Research School of Population Health.