The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) aims to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering and technology in South Africa. SAASTA is business Unit of the National Research Foundation.
|Department of Science and Technology Focus Areas|
SAASTA was mandated to implement and administer the Science Platform Months on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) since the inception of the programme in 2004. Basic science areas where South Africa displays geographical and local advantage make up the Science Platforms Focus Areas which is aimed at developing knowledge generation capacity and the enhancement of human capital. These basic sciences are divided into four broad areas, namely: African Origins, Antarctica, Astronomy, and Biosciences.
The African Origins component of the programme seeks to understand the evolution of life through interdisciplinary research programmes in Palaeontology, Archaeology and Genetics. A number of local museums, universities and the Council for Geosciences are actively involved in the study of the origin, speciation and extinction of life; changes in biodiversity and the ecosystem through time; age relationships and biostratigraphy; the evaluation of humankind as well as the emergence of modern humans.
The Antarctic research programmes are classified as: 1) Geospace that seeks to understand the consequences of geomagnetic variability using a coordinated resourced ground based observatory. The programme also aims to educate the next generation of physicists in this field. 2) Climate Variability studies short- and long-term climate change and the impact variability, which in turn, requires a multidisciplinary research approach including earth sciences; physical sciences and oceanography. 3) Biodiversity Responses to Earth System Variability aims to investigate the effects of anthropogenic and natural variability on biological systems and the resources it provides for sustaining human life. The integration of work by oceanographers, biologists and geoscientists is of high importance to attain the objectives of this programme. 4) The History, Sociology and Politics of South African Antarctic Research and Exploration aims to explore the historical, sociological and political dimensions of South African exploration of Antarctica and its ecosystem. The focus is mainly on examining the gender and racial dimensions of Antarctic Research and Exploration and the implications they have had on knowledge generation and policy development. It is also the objectives of this programme to broaden the scholarships and capacity in Antarctic Research and Exploration.
Astronomy involves the study of space and the evolution of the universe. Astronomical observations provide essential information with regard to understanding of the universe, atmospheric conditions, magnetic fields and the impact they have on earth. South Africa’s participation in Astronomical activities include hosting the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT); cooperation on the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS); bidding to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) telescope; and other astronomy activities.
Bioscience is the study of the structure and behavior of all life forms. Programmes in marine bioscience focus on preservation and the promotion of the use of marine and coastal resources through appropriate Marine Science, Engineering and Technology. Current programmes in this field include: the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP); The Sea and the Coast (Society Ecosystem and change); Benguela Environment Fisheries Interaction and Training (BENEFIT); and, various other programmes of the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB).
For African Origins Month 2009, SAASTA wishes to appoint a team of people to develop communication material that would promote South Africa's sites of archaeological and palaeontological significance among tourists.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has declared June as Antarctica Month to make South Africans more aware of the unique and exciting research done by our scientists on this frozen continent and the sub-Antarctic islands.
Marine Biosciences Month celebrates South Africa's involvement in this field of science, research being conducted and the new frontiers being explored.
For African Origins Month 2009, SAASTA wishes to appoint a team of people to develop communication material that would promote South Africa's sites of archaeological and palaeontological significance among tourists
Astronomy Month will be held in October 2008. The closing date for proposal submissions is 15 April 2008. All prospective applicants are invited to a briefing session on 23 November 2007, at which guidelines will be provided