UKZN academic, Dr Gerry Bokana, and PhD candidate, Mr Ayodeji Opeyemi Ogunlesi, met up with the University’s former Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, while on a business visit to Austria.
Bokana’s and Ogunlesi visit aimed to strengthen research collaboration between the UKZN School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) as well as the Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Van Jaarsveld, who as of 1 October 2018 became Director-General and CEO of IISA in Austria, was overjoyed to have Bokana and Ogunlesi at the collaborations meeting; giving them a message to take back to all UKZN staff and students.
Said Bokana, ‘Dr van Jaarsveld wants the University community to know that he had a safe journey to Laxenburg in Austria. He is very keen for more UKZN staff and students as well as representatives from other African universities to get involved in research collaborations with IIASA. The first opportunity for collaboration is the Young Scientists Summer Programme (YSSP) 2019 which he has personally e-mailed UKZN about and encourages the University’s talented young scientists to be part of.’
The collaboration seminar highlights research done by students and supervisors which enhances the understanding of systems analysis in regard to IIASA modalities as well as fostering the research methodology utilised by IIASA.
Ogunlesi – who is an NRF Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) doctoral scholarship recipient and Bokana – were invited by the Director of IIASA’s Evolution and Ecology Programme, Dr Ulf Dieckmann, to deliver two presentations aligned to the institute’s research interest; exploring solutions to global challenges such as food insecurity.
Food security is the focus of Ongunlesi’s doctoral research titled: Development Economics, Food Security, Food Price, Volatility and Forecasting with a bias for sub-Saharan African (SSA) Countries.
The first presentation was an overview on UKZN’s research interests and the second was titled: Dynamic Growth Models and Agriculture Nexus in Countries in sub-Saharan Africa: A Systems Analysis Approach, which highlighted the major barriers and challenges in the drive to achieve, attain and sustain food security in the region.
‘Time spent at the IIASA was greatly beneficial for our academic development as we interacted with senior researchers who work on real world complex systems. I received first-hand knowledge on system analysis approach which I can apply in my research,’ said Ogunlesi.
The pair has been invited back to IIASA and are currently working on co-publishing a paper on Network Analysis on Food Trade. Both are optimistic that the relationship between them and the institute will be beneficial to other UKZN researchers, students as well as the African region as a while.
For more on information on IIASA, visit: http://www.iiasa.ac.at/
Words by: Lungile Ngubelanga