DANS rewards student helper with ticket to IASSIST African Chapter

4 August 2023

In May and June 2023 the University of Pretoria, South Africa held their annual CODATA-RDA School for Research Data Science (SoRDS). This online school, part of the international SoRDS network, focuses on building foundational data science skills amongst early career researchers in low/middle-income countries. The schools are staffed by volunteer instructors and a small number of student helpers to support the learners. These dedicated volunteer helpers play a vital role in the success of the schools. To encourage the student helpers and acknowledge the importance of their work, DANS awarded the most active helper with a ticket to the IASSIST African chapter.

Because sharing enriches us

Lawson Maluwi was the 2023 student helper awarded with the ticket to the IASSIST African Chapter that will take place in Pretoria in October. The selection committee was impressed with his dedicated support of the students, in particular the time he spent on Slack assisting with queries. “I had the privilege of attending the SoRDS as a helper. I gladly accepted the invitation, because I strongly believe in the power of sharing knowledge to enrich us”, says Mawuli. In 2021 he had the opportunity to attend the school and it was a game-changer for his career. “Data Science was a relatively new field to me, and I learned a multitude of new concepts. Throughout the program, I received invaluable assistance from dedicated helpers whenever I faced challenges. It felt natural to me to return the favor when I was asked to help this year.”

DANS is proud to support African scholars working in information technologies and data services. This includes the support of the SoRDS network and the sponsorship of the African chapter of the IASSIST in Pretoria. Through this sponsorship DANS is able to offer the ticket and support an early career researcher to learn more about research data and to build capacity towards their bright research future. “Attending the IASSIST October conference in Pretoria presents a tremendous opportunity for me to expand my network, learn, and enhance my research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in Togo. I am immensely grateful to DANS for sponsoring my attendance at this significant event. It will undoubtedly further empower me in my mission to create positive change in the field of neuroscience and mental health.” 

About Lawson Mawuli

Lawson Mawuli is a clinical psychologist from Togo, West Africa, and recently completed his PhD studies. With a specialization in Neuropsychology, he is dedicated to raising awareness about Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in his local community. Many people in that area still believe that memory loss is a normal part of aging, and his mission is to utilize evidence-based data to create awareness and promote brain health. This year, he has produced a therapeutic notebook called “My Brain Book,” designed to help people dedicate more time to caring for their brains.

About SoRDS

Contemporary research – particularly when addressing the most significant, inter-disciplinary research challenges – cannot effectively be done without a range of skills relating to data. Nonetheless, many researchers around the world struggle to access quality training in these subjects. The SoRDS initiative was developed to address this shortfall, particularly focusing on upskilling early career researchers from low/middle-income countries. The curriculum includes a range of technical skills and responsible research practices, to upskill them to work confidently with their data in an effective and efficient manner required by 21st-century research. SoRDS schools have been taught around the world either as a 2-week in-person school or as a 5 – 8 week online school.

DANS has been involved with the SoRDS network for a number of years, sending volunteer instructors to teach on research data management and Open and Responsible research. Louise Bezuidenhout is currently a co-chair and lecturer and Marjan Grootveld is the advisory board co-chair. The next CODATA-RDA Summer School will be held from 31 July – 11 August in Trieste, Italy. Click here for more information. 

About IASSIST African chapter

The IASSIST Africa Chapter is affiliated to the International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST), an international organization of professionals working with information technology and data services to support research and teaching in the social sciences. IASSIST has a membership of over 300 from Academia, Government, Non-profit sector, Private sector. The IASSIST Africa chapter was officially launched in 2021 during the Ist IASSIST Africa Regional Workshop in Kampala, Uganda. Click here to find out more. 

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