Mr Justin Harrison, a recent MSc graduate from the Department of Physics at the University of Pretoria (UP), is one of only 20 top young scientists from South Africa to attend the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to physics later this year in Lindau, Germany. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has successfully nominated these top young scientists from South Africa.
“I feel very excited, it is truly a great honour to represent South Africa at this global event. Rubbing shoulders with some of the smartest people in the world for a week will surely be a life-changing experience, especially for young scientists like myself who are only just starting their careers. What I am mostly looking forward to are the conference presentations, which will be presented by the Nobel laureates on their ground-breaking research. I would really love to meet the 2018 Nobel Prize winners for physics, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland, who did outstanding research in the generation of ultra-short optical pulses,” said an elated Mr Harrison when asked how he feels about attending this prestigious event.
He added that this year’s Nobel Laureate Meeting is dedicated to physics and one of the major topics is lasers and photonics. “I recently completed my MSc Physics degree at UP under supervision of Prof Tjaart Kuger (Physics) and Dr Shankara Radhakrishnan (Chemistry) with my dissertation focusing on femtosecond laser spectroscopy, so the theme of this year’s meeting is really relevant to my field of interest.”
Mr Harrison had a lot of praise for the extended programmes in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, which give students who did not meet the minimum Mathematics and Science requirements for university entrance a second chance by offering the degree in four years instead of three. “I enrolled for the four-year BSc Physics Extended Programme at the Mamelodi Campus, and after completing the bridging period, I was allowed to re-join my peers in the three-year programme at the Hatfield Campus. Despite this set-back and with hard work and determination, which included many hours spent in the library, I eventually honed my skills to become a successful physics student.”
he passed all his Physics degrees (BSc, honours and master’s) with distinction and academic colours, and received many other awards for outstanding academic achievements. He was also a Physics tutor during his studies. “My advice to the youngsters out there who are faced with similar challenges is to remember that, no matter what the obstacle, if you are determined, work hard and stay focused, there is absolutely nothing you cannot achieve.”
ASSAF, as the official partner of the Lindau Foundation and with funding from the Department of Science and Technology, annually nominates young scientists to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, which are designed as a forum for young scientists from all over the world to have an in-depth exchange with Nobel laureates.