This year marks a decade since South Africa entered into a collaboration with CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, best known for major breakthroughs such as the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle in 2012.


The research programme in fundamental physics at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has brought many opportunities for South Africa's science community which will be highlighted at an event in Cape Town on Monday, 19 November, to celebrate the collaboration.


Since the launch of the programme in December 2008, South Africa has established a very strong footprint and visibility at CERN, and also made a significant contribution to the discovery of the Higgs boson. The particle completed the Standard Model of Particle Physics, the current best theory of understanding nature at the level of particles.


South African researchers have been involved in several activities at CERN, and as a result of support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), a fifth group, the SA-CERN Technology Transfer Group, is being established to exploit the great potential of technology transfer to the South African industry.


The number of South African students working at CERN has increased remarkably.  There are currently 80, with several more eager to join the programme.  Black student representation is also expected to increase from 35% in 2014 to 65% in 2019, and women representation is expected to increase from 30% in 2013 to 50% in 2019.


A research facility of the DST, iThemba LABS employs senior scientists and technicians dedicated to the programme and offers world-class infrastructure and administrative support. Another of the country's research facility, the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) provides significant computing resources to the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid.  It hosts a Tier 2 Data Node for the ALICE and ATLAS experiments, putting South Africa on the map of world computing.


The DST's Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support; Prof. Zeblon Vilakazi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs at Wits and former Director of iThemba LABS; and Ms Helene Budliger Artieda, the Swiss Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador of France, HE Mr Christophe Farnaud, Dr Fa¨ı¸cal Aza¨ıez Director (iThemba LABS) and Dr Eckhard Elsen, Director for Research and Computing (CERN) will speak at the event.  Dr Zinhle Buthelezi, a senior researcher at iThemba LABS will give her perspective as a female researcher at CERN.


Several industrial and poster exhibits will also be on display.


The media are invited to attend the first day of celebrations and will be taken on a tour of iThemba LABS.


Date:       Monday, 19 November 2018


Time:       09:30 – 17:00


Venue:   iThemba LABS, Old Faure Road, Cape Town


RSVP to Veronica Mohapeloa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 083 400 5750.


About CERN


CERN is located in Geneva, Switzerland, is the European Organization for Nuclear Research.  It was founded in 1954 and employs over 2 500 people. In total, almost 13 600 scientists of 110 different nationalities use CERN's facilities. CERN is an excellent breeding incubator for new talent.  Around 80 countries collaborate actively with CERN, including all the BRICS states (Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa). CERN's overall budget is about CHF1 billion (R14 billion).


CERN's main function is to provide the infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research. As a result, numerous experiments are conducted at CERN as a result of international collaborations. South Africa is actively taking part in several of these, particularly using the ALICE and ATLAS detectors at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as experiments at ISOLDE and in theoretical developments.


About iThemba LABS


The iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences (iThemba LABS) is a multidisciplinary research facility that is based on the development, operation and use of particle accelerators and related research equipment.


The facility brings together scientists working in the physical, medical and biological sciences, providing opportunities for research in subatomic physics, materials, radiobiology, and the research and development of unique radioisotopes for nuclear medicine and industrial applications.


It has various collaboration agreements and joint training programmes with higher education institutions and research laboratories around the world.