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Sharing Expertise with the Next Generation of African Modellers

Posted on 28/01/2015

 Dr Cedric Weber from the Department of Physics works with the Thomas Young Centre sharing knowledge of the theory of electronic structure with up-and-coming African scientists. He is a tutor at the latest edition of the African School series on Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA), a biennial event with  an emphasis on computational methods for practical calculations that has been held since 2010 and which is scheduled to run until 2020.

This year the school is to be held between January 19-31 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 42 attendees from Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Congo, Cameroon, Sudan, Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa. The school is aimed at students finishing their Masters program. It has two aims - to introduce modelling approaches to students who are new to the field, and to provide students who already have training in condensed matter advanced modelling to tools that are used in modern research areas, such as DFT+U, GW, Quantum Monte Carlo. There is a particular emphasis on comparing modelling approaches and experimental data. 

During the first week, students will be taught a consistent set of numerical approaches to describe materials, beginning with density functional theory (DFT) before moving on to discuss its extensions, such as DFT+U and DFT+GW, as well as Quantum Monte Carlo approaches.

In the second week students have the opportunity to attend advanced tutorials, where they can work on guided projects. If they are interested, students can continue working on the projects and access more advanced questions. There will be a mixture of both theoretical lectures and hands-on sessions, on topics such as Quantum Espresso, Yambo.

The teaching team involves scientists from a range of backgrounds and is very complementary. Mark Casida, a world expert in time-dependent density functional theory, will join Richard Martin, another world leader in the field of condensed matter who has a particular expertise in correlated materials (DMFT, GW). Younger member of the community with outstanding scientific, including Matteo Gatti (Ecole Polytehnique Paris), will provide hands on with Yambo, while Matteo Cococcioni (Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne) is an emerging figure of the field of modelling.

Cedric Weber spoke passionately about the benefits for African students that the school expects to provide. “Most technological innovations and societal progress has been preceded by new developments in the field of material science. Internationally research councils have also recognised the importance of modelling as a cornerstone for the achievement of faster progress in material design and technological advances, all critically needed to solve the challenges of our time (energy consumption, ecology, information storage, ...), as also illustrated by the ambitious “Material Genome” project in the USA.

“But advances can only be obtained through an international scientific effort, drawing bridges between the scientific communities of all continents, and building links between different scientific disciplines. ASESMA contributes significantly at training the next generation of outstanding scientists, by promoting material science in parts of the world where those advances are greatly needed."

For further information, take a look at the website here.

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