RSA-JINR Summer School 2023

News, 09 March 2023

The Republic of South Africa hosted a three-week RSA-JINR Summer School 2023 from 16 January to 4 February. Nineteen delegates of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research visited Cape Town to deliver valuable presentations in different scientific fields to participants of the School.

This year, 36 students from 10 South African universities gathered at iThemba LABS, the school’s traditional venue. Head of the JINR International Cooperation Department Dr Dmitry Kamanin opened the lectures with an introduction to JINR, after which Acting Director of the JINR University Centre Dr Alexander Verkheev presented the opportunities available to them at JINR. A group of scientists from JINR participated in the School’s work as well, synchronising the visits to carry out their projects during or after the School.

The School’s programme included lectures on accelerator technologies, nuclear physics, swift heavy ions in radiation material science, nuclear medicine, computing in high-energy physics, archaeological applications, the use of neutrons in life sciences, nanoscience, and many more.

JINR staff from VBLHEP, FLNR, FLNP, DLNP, and UC presented many hours’ worth of lectures, seminars, workshops, and JINR exhibition activities. These were supported and supplemented by lecturers from 11 African universities and education institutions to ensure students received an intensive, well-rounded, and in-depth look at as many scientific topics as possible during the Summer School programme.

Students learned about the NICA Accelerator Complex and its tasks, detectors used in colliders, the principles of charged particle acceleration, and obtaining experimental data. Head of a UC Department Prof. Yuri Panebrattsev gave introductory lectures about detectors and nuclear reactions in fundamental and applied research. There were also seminars accompanying these lectures. Students learned about the triggering systems of BM@N and MPD, got acquainted with the SPD project.

As part of the VLab project, the team held workshops on experimental nuclear physics, at which participants learned to work with nuclear electronics. The students also completed workshops on gamma spectroscopy, X-ray spectroscopy, applied Moseley’s Law in practice, and performed laboratory work on the study of spontaneous fission. One day of the educational programme was devoted to a practicum on the ROOT system, which is widely used by experimentalists.

A multimedia JINR Exhibition was held in the main hall of iThemba LABS at which the summer school students, students from Tuscany Glen High School, and iThemba LABS staff were able to get an overview of the main facilities of JINR, were introduced to the history and perspectives of superheavy element synthesis, and used virtual reality technology to participate in experiments.

After a selection process, the summer school students will have the opportunity to visit JINR in June this year for the International Student Practice hosted by the JINR University Centre to gain even more knowledge and experience that could enhance the start of their careers.

At the end of the Summer School, new plans to organize joint RSA-JINR educational projects were proposed and discussed. At the same time, everyone involved expressed their interest in furthering RSA-JINR cooperation.

Ph.D. student Lungile Hadebe from the University of KwaZulu-Natal shared feedback on the School, “The programme was amazingly good. I met new people and built relationships that I believe will be very beneficial in the future. Moreover, I learned a lot of characterisation methods that I can also employ in my Ph.D. project.”

Young students also noted that the Summer School it provides relevant, up to date information about interesting research, and that the event is the best kind of preparation both for future study and also what is done in the real world.

Boitshekwane Kgantsi is a final year Ph.D. and Radiation of Science student who is currently registered with the University of Northwest, Centre of Applied Radiation of Science (CARST). She said that the Summer School brought light to her Ph.D. project. Going back to CARST with more experience, she will be hands-on, helping other students to understand the techniques. She wants to share her experience with other students so that they may also enroll in the programme in the future.