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4 October 2019
The 9th Tastes Of Nuclear Physics, International Conference on Fundamental Nuclear Physics and Applications

(Published - 4 October 2019)

For years, Tastes of Nuclear Physics has served as one of South Africa’s most successful conferences on fundamental nuclear physics and applications, providing a chance for students and experts from around the world to share knowledge, socialize and sample what the field has to offer. Tastes 9, hosted by the University of Zululand (UniZulu) in conjunction with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) from 30 September to 4 October 2019, was no exception.

“The objectives of this conference are to expose and motivate our students who are doing honours and master’s degrees in physics, to provide a platform for students to be able to engage with the experts in the field of physics, and also to examine the nuclear behaviour in the universe,” says UniZulu’s Prof Sifiso Ntshangase, Chair of the Tastes 9 organising committee. “We hope that after this conference we will be able to discuss the new proposals, student exchange programmes and joint funding applications.”

Tastes of Nuclear Physics is all about enthusing students towards their highest education and Physics achievements. How? By attracting world-class lecturers to instruct them on timely topics in Fundamental and Applied Nuclear Physics and enlighten them on new research possibilities and supporting state-of-the-art facilities.

“We’re providing a strong Taste of what nuclear physics has to offer,” says Professor Nico Orceof the University of the Western Cape, who has championed Tastes of Nuclear Physics since 2011. “We’re enlightening students about research opportunities, educating attendees about the state of nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics, and entertaining them by sharing the exciting stories of science.”

World-class lecturers from Cape Town, SA and the USA (not to mention Spain and the UK) delivered interactive lectures on explosive astrophysics, South Africa’s nuclear detection labs and how to get gold from mercury through nuclear physics. Speakers such as Peter Butler, John Wood, Paul Garrett and Krish Bharuth-Ram, as well as David Jenkins and Mikhail Bashkanov, (and other distinguished guests) unpacked strategically planned topics with delegates.

Standard Tastes “Terms & Conditions” applied:

  • All were welcome, students and staff from any institutions
  • No fees (registration or otherwise) were required
  • Free refreshments (coffee breaks and delicious lunches) were provided
  • Transport was arranged daily by UniZULU and UWC for students and staff
  • As tradition requires, there was plenty of time to relax and party, in true scientific style

As part of the programme, public lectures on topics like Nuclear Medicine, the Universe and Neutrinos were led by renowned experts like Prof Amo Jordaan, Prof Azwinndini Muronga and Prof Eric Norman.

At the same time, students and post-docs from UWC, UniZulu, iThemba Labs and Stellenbosch University - including rising stars like Cebo Ngwetsheni, Thuthukile Khumalo and Senamile Masango - presented on their ongoing research projects and kept the experts on their toes with questions and discussions.

“I come here to Tastes because it’s a fantastic place to visit - and each year I get to go to this wonderful meeting, interact with students, work with young people; and learn from them as well,” says Prof John Wood, a US-based expert in the experimental study of nuclear structure with radioactive beams who has attended every single Tastes of Nuclear Physics.

“When you sow seeds, you want to put the seeds where they will grow the best - and here in South Africa, the young people can make a tremendous difference with their knowledge.”

Tastes has previously been hosted almost exclusively by the University of the Western Cape (with Tastes 6 being the only exception, taking place at Stellenbosch University). But with the success of this year’s event, the hosting duties will be much more of a shared affair.

“This initiative will now be hosted every two years at UNIZULU,” says Prof Orce. “We will be bringing our very best experts and academics to empower students all over South Africa. When we can attract and enthuse students from all kinds of backgrounds, who knows what we can achieve?”

“New research collaborations and hope were brought to UniZULU after the unrest situation on campus. That’s what UWC and UniZULU are committed to through this international conference. We’ll be back!”, says Prof Ntshangase at UniZULU.

Want to know more about the lectures, attendees, programme, and socializing that took place at Tastes of Nuclear Physics 9? Just visit