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SciTech Watch The official almost bi-monthly electronic newsletter of the French Embassy in South Africa

No. 3/2012

On the cover 3D Abstract

Photo courtesy of Caltira Creatividad

In this issue … PRESS RELEASE * *

Implementation of the IRD-NRF agreement: Strengthening regional cooperation in Africa Dr Mamphela Ramphele receives the medal of Officer in the order of the Legion of Honour

BURSARIES & SCHOLARSHIPS  Research and studies in France * *

2013/2014 European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) Fellowship Programme Nanosciences Foundation 2012 Chairs of Excellence

News in science and Technology in France * * * * * * * * *

CNES, from Success to Space Challenges for the Next Fifty Years First Class of ESTP and ENSAPLV Engineers-Architects The Bone - An Unexpected Site Producing Serotonin Creation of a Joint International French-Indian Unit in Mathematics World First for the GUINEVERE Demonstration Model - Towards Cleaner Nuclear Energy RESIF - Very Large-Scale Research Infrastructure for Geophysics Detecting Live Bacteria Reliably and Rapidly A Unique Platform in France for Plant Drought Resistance Successful Maiden Flight for the New European VEGA Launcher

OUT AND ABOUT  Events to diarise *

OMNT introductory seminar to topological insulators

HOT TOPIC  Everything you need to know about… *

France & AFROBOT 2012

Press Release Implementation of the IRD-NRF agreement: Strengthening regional cooperation in Africa

Under the MoU signed a year ago between IRD and the South African National Research Fondation (NRF), the first meeting of the Joint Committee (JC) was held in Pretoria on February 20, focusing on two main objectives : • Reviewing existing cooperation, • Exploring new synergies. Presentations and discussions were centered on two themes, marine science and climate change on the one hand, space science and environmental observations on the other. The meeting first confirmed a convergence in the approaches of both organizations. NRF and IRD both believes in cooperation evolving into a limited number of large regional projects around major societal issues, largely opened to French and South African institutions. In this spirit, NRF has warmly welcomed the project (under discussion) of an international alliance around the Indian Ocean in which the ICEMASAi partners would join other South African universities and agencies in a larger endeavour including research organizations from neighboring countries and the University of La Reunion. A scientific workshop, complementary to the annual JC and in support of this initiative, is planned for late August 2012. In the field of remote sensing, the project GEODEV (Geotechnologies for Development) that aims at establishing an international network of environmental observatories from satellite imagery to support the development of countries in the South, rises interest in South Africa which satellite coverage and facilities are complementary, for Africa coverage, to the projects of France and its partners, including stations such as SEASii-IO and SEAS-Gabon. A scientific workshop, complementary to the annual JC and in support of this second initiative is also planned for late 2012. These two major projects will be conducted within the framework of two international consortia of research cooperation, capacity building and innovation. Convergence between the strategies of NRF and IRD further occurred relative to the importance and need for an opening of training activities to other universities, an area where ICEMASA is already very active. The first meeting of the Joint Committee was followed by visits and discussions with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and laboratories in Pretoria and Cape Town. Participants : National Research Foundation Mr. Robert Kriger, Executive Director: International Relations & Cooperation Mrs. Ethel Masihleho, Programme Director: International Relations and Cooperation Dr Bernard Nthambeleni, Executive Director: Grant Management Systems and Administration Mr. Siyabonga Kohli, Programme Officer: Science and Technology Agreements Fund Dr Achuo, Acting Executive Director: Knowledge Fields Development Mr. Wojtek Skowvonski, Executive Director: Information & Communication Technology

Contact the IRD Office in South Africa

IRD Dr Yves Savidan, CNRS-IRD Permanent Representative for Southern Africa Dr Francis Marsac, IRD: Director ICEMASA Dr Steven Herbette UBO/IRD: ICEMASA Dr Laurent Durieux, IRD: Espace-Dev & M2GP Ms. Charlotte Laurin, CNRS: IRD-CNRS Office Communication French Embassy in South Africa Dr Pierre Lemonde: Attaché for Science and Technology

Bureau conjoint CNRS-IRD en Afrique australe @ The Innovation Hub, P.O.Box 66, Pretoria 0087,

SAEON Dr Beate Holscher, Research Administrator: South African Environmental Observatory Network SANSA Dr Pierre Cilliers, South African National Space Agency

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Press Release Dr Mamphela Ramphele receives the medal of Officer in the order of the Legion of Honour

29 February 2012 – On the evening of 28 February 2012 Ambassador Jacques Lapouge was honoured to host Dr Mamphela Ramphele along with her closest friends, family and associates at the official Cape Town residence of the French Embassy in South Africa in order to bestow on her the medal of Officer in the order of the Legion of Honour.

Ambassador Jacques Lapouge addresses distinguished guests at the decoration ceremony for Dr Mamphela Ramphele on the 28th of February 2012 in Cape Town.

Download Ambassador Lapouge’s speech >> Read an interview with Dr Ramphele on the Business Day website >>

Tuesday evening, Ambassador Lapouge was keen to highlight the personal story of Dr Ramphele, which highlights her strong personal commitment to freedom and equality and single her out as one of the significant role players in South Africa’s struggle history. Speaking to the reception before bestowing the medal, Ambassador Lapouge praised Dr Ramphele for her lifelong commitment to the poor.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest French distinction. It is a strong symbol of the spirit of the French Revolution, aimed at replacing the privilege of birth with the recognition of merit. The Legion of Honour recognises men and women from all walks of life, from France and from all over the world, who are seen to embody ideals and universal values such as freedom and equality. At the gala reception on

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BURSARIES & SCHOLARSHIPS  Research and Studies in France The 2013/2014 European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS) Fellowship Programme - Call for applications

The EURIAS Fellowship Programme is an international researcher mobility programme offering 10-month residencies in one of the 14 participating Institutes, which support the focused, self-directed work of outstanding researchers. Fellows benefit from the finest intellectual and research conditions and from the stimulating environment of a multi-disciplinary and international community of first-rate scholars. EURIAS Fellowships are mainly offered in the fields of the humanities and social sciences but may also be granted to scholars in life and exact sciences, provided that their proposed research project does not require laboratory facilities and that it interfaces with humanities and social sciences. The Programme welcomes applications worldwide from promising young scholars as well as from leading senior researchers. The EURIAS selection process has proven to be highly competitive. In order to match the Programme standards, applicants have to submit a solid and innovative research proposal, to demonstrate the ability to forge beyond disciplinary specialisation, to show an international commitment as well as quality publications in highimpact venues.

How to apply Candidates apply exclusively through the online application system.

Contacts EURIAS Programme Officer Mrs Mylène Trouvé T: +33 (0) 1 49 54 21 49 at the RFIEA Foundation 190 avenue de France 75013 Paris - FRANCE To contact the participating IAS, please refer to the following list. [  return to index ]

BURSARIES & SCHOLARSHIPS  Research and Studies in France

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News in Science and Technology in France E-Tech France Number 267 CNES, from Success to Space Challenges for the Next Fifty Years

"Space is young and will grow since we now have the capacity to meet market needs. Actually, numerous needs can only be met by using space resources. I am thinking specifically of very high broadband," CNES President Yannick d'Escatha stated at his year- opening press conference last January, adding that in the growing space sector, CNES has not aged a

day. He recalled that 2011, marking the fiftieth anniversary of CNES, was an "outstanding year, a year of success," with the first launch of a Soyuz 2-Ib rocket from French Guiana on October 21 last year, the crowning achievement of eight years... Read more >>

CNES President Yannick d'Escatha © Julien Lecomte/CNES

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First Class of ESTP and ENSAPLV Engineers-Architects

On February 10 this year, the graduation ceremony of the first class of ESTP and ENSAPLV engineers-architects was held in Paris. After 7 years of study, the students received two degrees: an engineering degree (major in

building) and the State degree of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture of Paris - La Villette (graduate school of architecture). The course is very demanding since the enrolled student must attend all the courses given by both schools

and cannot fail any, a unique requirement in France. Each student must also spend at least 5 weeks abroad during the curricula, with average stays at 7 months... Read more >> [  return to index ]

The Bone - An Unexpected Site Producing Serotonin

Serotonin, long recognized as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, modulates a variety of functions, such as mood, behavior, sleep and body temperature regulation. It also has major functions in several peripheral tissues and regulates vascular, heart and gastrointestinal mobility functions.

However, serotonin levels circulating in the body are extremely low. Mostly stored in the platelets, it is only available for peripheral organs if it is released during platelet activation. Notably, recent controversy has focused on the role of the neurotransmitter on bone tissue. Read more >>


Unit 606 "Bone and Joint" Marie Christine de Vernejoul  +33 (0)1 49 95 63 58

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Creation of a Joint International French-Indian Unit in Mathematics

This January 12, an agreement for the creation of a French-Indian Joint International Unit (JIU) in applied mathematics (IFAM, IndoFrench Center for Applied Mathematics) was signed in New Delhi, India. Based at the Indian

Institute of Science in Bangalore, the Center was created by the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and several French partners (CNRS, Ecole Polytechniqe, Ecole Normale Supérieure, INRIA, Nice-Sophia

Antipolis University and Toulouse-III Paul Sabatier University). The purpose of the new Joint International Unit is to provide mathematicians from both countries with a ... Read more >> [  return to index ]

News in Science and Technology in France E-Tech France Number 267 World First for the GUINEVERE Demonstration Model - Towards Cleaner Nuclear Energy Right : Insertion of the vertical line of the Genepi-3C accelerator into the core of the GUINEVERE reactor © CNRS

The 30 December 1991 Bataille Act on radioactive waste management, with a focus on high and medium activity to long life span, was prolonged and substantially renovated by another Act in June 2006. The Act urges the public research organizations involved in the major issue of nuclear waste to start working on developing

solutions for the future. This is the background for the engineering of the GUINEVERE demonstration model as part of joint work between the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK-CEN) and CNRS (French national center for scientific research) with participation of CEA (French Atom... Read more >> [  return to index ]

RESIF - Very Large-Scale Research Infrastructure for Geophysics

This February 8, the Very LargeScale Research Infrastructure, RESIF (French seismologic and geodetic network) was officially launched. RESIF construction will receive financial support ( euros9.3 million) from the Investments for

the Future program, which selected it as a Facility of Excellence. The purpose of the facility is to set up a geophysical observation array covering all metropolitan France, dedicated to the study of the Earth's interior and geological hazards.

RESIF (under the responsibility of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable De... Read more >> [  return to index ]

Detecting Live Bacteria Reliably and Rapidly

This is now possible with the method that has just been developed by researchers from a team at the Laboratory of Bacterial Chemistry (Institute for Microbiology of the Mediterranean, CNRS/Aix-Marseille University) and their colleagues at the laboratory of Molecular and Macromolecular Glycochemistry

(Orsay Institute of Molecular Chemistry and Materials, CNRS/Paris-Sud University). The technique makes it possible to detect living Gram-negative type bacteria, which include pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Legionella pneumophila. Read more >>

An Escherichia coli bacterium labeled by the incorporation of a modified KDO and coupling with a fluorescent molecule © LCB (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) & ICMMO (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud)

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A Unique Platform in France for Plant Drought Resistance

Climate change is making it urgent for agriculture to grow plants that can withstand stronger environmental constraints, such as water stress, higher temperatures, or drier air. Today, Montpellier INRA researchers have a platform

that is unique in France. Called PhénoArch, the platform was built thanks to exceptional funding from INRA and support from the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Council and different partners (CNRS, CIRAD, Montpellier 2

University and Montpellier SupAgro) One thousand six hundred and fifty plants can be analyzed at the same time at the platform, where climate condition... Read more >> [  return to index ]

News in Science and Technology in France E-Tech France Number 267 Successful Maiden Flight for the New European VEGA Launcher

This February 13, the ESA successfully launched the qualification flight of an entirely new launcher called Vega. The small launcher has been designed to loft payloads weighing a maximum of 1,500 kilos into low earth polar orbits at a 700-km altitude. The small single-body launcher with its three solid-rocket motor stages completes a family that already has the heavy Ariane-5 launcher and the medium sized Soyuz launcher that had its maiden flight last October. The success crowns nine years of development work headed by ESA and its industrial partners, with support from Italian (ASI) and French... Vega take-off © ESA-CNES-ARIANESPACE

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OUT and ABOUT  Events to diarise

On April 5th, the Observatoire des Micro et NanoTechnologies (OMNT, Observatory of Micro and Nanotechnologies) is organizing an introductory seminar to topological insulators, at ESPCI ParisTech. This will be an opportunity for representatives from ENS Lyon, the Nancy Jean Lamour Institute, Grenoble CEA-LETI, Saclay Soleil Synchrotron, Grenoble Néel Institute, the Paris Nanoscience Institute, and LPEM at ESPCI Paris Tech, to present their activities on these materials, spectroscopy and the study of their transport properties. A round table discussion will close the day-long event. The bibliography on these materials, i.e., topological insulators, has been booming for about 2 years. The materials have high surface conductivity and insulation in their core. Often, the materials have high spin-orbit coupling, which adds very interesting magnetic characteristics - especially for spintronics - to their remarkable electronic properties. The relevant family of materials is fairly large and includes well-known thermoelectric materials. However, their special properties are not actually exploited - the materials are currently used for detection and infrared imaging and for their thermoelectric and thermo-magnetic properties.

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HOT TOPIC  Everything you need to know about… France & AFROBOT 2012 Scifest Africa is South Africa's National Science Festival and aims to promote the public awareness and engagement with science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI). The project consists of two components, namely the annual week-long National Science Festival held in Grahamstown in March every year, as well as a range of local, regional and national outreach programmes implemented around the country throughout the rest of the year. Afrobot, one of these

exciting programmes, is prepared with enthusiasm throughout the year by contributors from South Africa and France, mostly volunteers, who wish to share their passion for education through discovery, science and international exchanges. Launched in 2011 and sponsored by the French Embassy, AFROBOT is an amateur robotics tournament that aims to

provide South Africans learners with the opportunity to get involved in a technical project within a supportive and entertaining environment. Afrobot is not rocket science, but instructs teams to use basic electronic components and inexpensive household materials to build a robot, making the tournament accessible to anyone.


France & SciFest Africa Because human capital inevitably contributes to the knowledge-pool and in order to address growing dependence upon new technologies, the Franco-South African partnership seeks to bring S&T to the community, simultaneously increasing the attractivity of S&T as a viable and rewarding career path. For sixteen years, the French government – under the auspices of its Embassy in Pretoria – and SciFest Africa have been working together to raise public awareness of the rewards and challenges that accompany science, technology, research and innovation. Since its inception in 1997, the French Embassy has been actively involved in funding and collaborations with the organisation to ensure that tomorrow’s thinkers are exposed to science today.

“Dinosaurs: the struggle for survival” was the theme of Afrobot 2012 and saw teams consisting of 2 – 3 youngsters between the ages of 8 and 18 assembling wire-guided robots from everyday materials to compete at the National Afrobot finals at SciFest Africa on 17 and 18 March 2012. The objective of each team was to compete with other teams, collecting their “dinosaur eggs” scattered across the ground and depositing them in their raised “dinosaur nests” where they would be safe. The Lycée Français Jules Verne competed at Afrobot once again, enrolling Michael Flett, a fifth year student at the Lycée as representative of the school, guided by Marc Julliot and Jean-Marc Orione. Read about the Lycée’s participation at AFROBOT>> [  return to index ]

HOT TOPIC  Everything you need to know about… France & AFROBOT 2012 "SCI-BONO - JULES VERNE COLLEGE" Robotics Collaboration







professors of Lycée Jules Verne (Marc JOLLIOT and Jean-Marc ORIONE) led a robot building workshop at the SCI-BONO Discovery Centre in Johannesburg, with two educators from the SciBono centre. Michael





represented the LJV robotics club. The workshop welcomed thirty students and educators, constituting 9 teams, from four schools and educational centers in the area, (St Mary’s, Arcelor Mittal Science Centre,





Johannesburg, and Osizweni Education Centre in Secunda). During just 6 hours of intensive work, six teams had built the robot and its control box for the forward / reverse and left / right turns. Three teams had built a robot capable of putting an egg in a raised "nest" up to 10 cm off the floor. This workshop took place in preparation for the





Tournament "AFROBOT 2012". Images of the workshop hosted by the Lycée






Discovery Centre courtesy of the LJV. [  return to index ]

For more information on Scientific and University Cooperation between France and South Africa, kindly contact :

Dr Pierre Lemonde, Attaché for Science and Technology at the French Embassy in Pretoria  012 425 1713  or Ms Bianca Naudé, Assistant to the Department for Cooperation  012 425 1710  Stock images used in this newsletter courtesy of All other photos are the property of the institutions or individuals mentioned below the image and are subject to copyright.

SciTech Watch #3/2012  

The official - almost - bi-monthly electronic S&T newsletter of the French Embassy in Pretoria.

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