National Science Week (NSW) is an annual celebration of science in South Africa. An initiative of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), it aims to popularise STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) and spark an interest in careers in STEM.

This year, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) partnered with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) as a host institution for National Science Week. During the course of the week, AHRI hosted six local high schools with over 100 learners visiting its Durban and Somkhele campuses. The learners were taken on interactive lab tours, with a hands-on opportunity to help with an experiment, a walk-through of AHRI’s clinical trials unit, and various career talks and presentations.

The theme for NSW 2022 was “Celebrating the role of basic sciences in the modern world”. AHRI scientists, students, and support staff helped to describe the role of basic sciences, why science is important at a school level, and how this could translate into future academic studies and careers in science.

Pictured above: Learners interacting with researchers and staff at the AHRI Durban and AHRI Somkhele campuses.

As part of National Science Week, UZKN also hosted two days of online public lectures, titled: ‘What do scientists do? A look inside the ivory tower’. AHRI’s Dr Sandile Cele presented a glimpse behind the scenes of his Covid-19 research, while UKZN and SANTHE PhD student Zakithi Mkhize presented her work on HIV with a talk titled ‘Doing HIV research in the lab: the hunt for the cure continues’.

The week concluded with a career fair at the Science and Technology Education Centre at UKZN, with AHRI PhD and masters’ students participating in career talks to inspire an interest in science among the learners and to demystify what research is and what scientists do.