South African scientists upped the ante when four local scientists were inducted as fellows into The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) — an immensely important science organisation that recognises the best scientific practice from across the developing world.
Making the list for 2018 are scientists Felix Dapare Dakore, an agrochemist identifying grain legumes needed for overcoming protein-calorie malnutrition in Africa; Jennifer Ann Thomson, whose work in molecular biology has contributed to developing maize that is resistant to maize streak virus and is also drought-tolerant; climate-change scientist Robert John Scholes, who has done major work on the ecology of African savannas, interactions between the global C-cycle and biodiversity; and Shabir Ahmed Madhi, whose research findings have seen the prevention of major causes of under-5 childhood death from pneumonia, diarrheal disease and early-infant sepsis.
Africa, as a whole, did particularly well this year, seeing 10 scientists from across the continent made fellows for their work — half of them women — that the TWAS says achieves "the pinnacle of scientific excellence".
10 Africans are among a group of 55 fellows elected to The World Academy of Sciences. Half of the African fellows are women, while overall the number is 29%. 4 fellows are from South #Africa, and one each from Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.— Research Africa (@ResearchAfrica) February 1, 2018
"To become a TWAS Fellow, a researcher must achieve the pinnacle of scientific excellence — that is a constant standard," says TWAS executive director Romain Murenzi.
China and India lead the list of candidates this year again, but African should not lose hope, says Murenzi.
"To assess why China and India have come to dominate TWAS's new classes every year, whole books could be written. However, a country's human resources are very important to its scientific advancement. But a nation's will is very important, too, and this is reflected in its leadership," he says.
"The common denominator for progress is strong policy on science, technology and innovation, backed by sustained investment in science and technology, including basic sciences," Murenzi says.
See the full list of fellows here.