Previous Fora / 2011


Executive Director, TWAS

Romain Murenzi was born in Rwanda and raised in Burundi. After graduating from the National University of Burundi in 1982, he taught mathematics in high school for three years before being awarded a fellowship for doctoral studies from the Catholic University of Louvain, where he earned his doctorate degree in physics in 1990. Murenzi Murenzi subsequently became a postdoctorate researcher at the Center for Research and Advanced Training in Scientific Computation in Toulouse, France, and a professor of physics at Clark Atlanta University in the United States. Between 2001 and 2009, he served as the minister of science and technology in Rwanda. He returned to the United States in 2009 to assume a joint appointment as director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, and visiting professor at the University of Maryland's Institute of Advanced Computer Studies in College Park, Maryland. He was appointed executive director of TWAS in April 2011.
Murenzi's major areas of research are multidimensional continuous wavelet transforms to quantum mechanics, and image and video processing.



12:00-13:30 17 NOVEMBER

Building Capacity for Science, Technology and Innovation for Those Left Behind

This talk will focus on TWAS’s wide-ranging capacity building programmes, which are based on the Academy's abiding principle that scientists in all developing countries should be given opportunities to pursue productive and rewarding careers without having to leave their home countries.
The strategy rests on three interrelated strategic initiatives: doctoral training programmes for students seeking advanced degrees, conducted in collaboration with scientific institutions in the South; research grants often given to scientists early in their careers to help improve their prospects for success; and scientific mobility, which promotes South-South scientific exchange by enabling researchers to visit other institutions to foster individual and institutional collaborations.
As the 2010 UNESCO Science Report observes: "Achieving knowledge-intensive growth is no longer the sole prerogative of the highly developed countries."
Statistics presented in the 2010 UNESCO Science Report tell the story. Between 2002 and 2008, the share of articles written by scientists from developing countries published in international peer-reviewed journals rose from 21% to 32%.
Similar shifts occurred – and continue to unfold – in the number of researchers and level of investments in research and development. For example, in 2002 scientists in developing countries accounted for 30% of the global scientific community; by 2007 the proportion was 38%. Meanwhile, the developing world’s global share of gross domestic product spent on research and development (GERD) rose from 17.2% in 2002 to 23.7% in 2007. Notably, during the same six-year period, the GERD in the least developed countries (LDCs) remained stagnant at 0.1%.
Indeed a closer look at the statistics reveals that this dramatic shift has been profoundly uneven. In fact, just six countries in the developing world account for more than three quarters of the scientific articles published in peer-reviewed international journals authored by scientists from the South. China alone has more than doubled its output in scientific publications in less than a decade and is now responsible for 10% of the world’s (and more than 30% of the developing world's) output. It recently outpaced both Japan and Germany to become the world’s second most prolific source of scientific publications behind the United States.
TWAS, on the other hand, has identified 81 developing countries that can be defined as scientifically lagging. The majority of these countries are in Africa and the Islamic region.
Moreover, even in those regions with limited scientific capacity, there are disturbing disparities in scientific output. Six countries in Africa, led by South Africa and Egypt, account for two-thirds of the continent’s scientific output.
The stark reality is this: The North-South gap in scientific capacity is narrowing on a global scale, but the country-to-country gap remains as wide as ever. A bi-polar world in science has become a multi-polar world in science. The age-old problem of yawning disparities between scientifically advanced and scientifically lagging countries persists – only in a different configuration. 
TWAS's broad-based programmes for doctoral training, research grants and scientific mobility are designed to bridge the capacity gap between scientifically capable countries and scientifically lagging countries. The goal, as TWAS President Jacob Pails likes to say, is to achieve good science in all countries.