Summer 2016

Dear ASESMA friends,

Welcome to the ASESMA newsletter, particularly those from the ASESMA
in Ghana in June that are new to the list.

This newsletter contains a message from Richard Martin on the school
in Ghana, along with some announcements and deadlines that may be of
interest to you. In addition, we include the social media and online
presence for getting in touch with us and spreading news about ASESMA!

All the best,

Sinead Griffin

::  CONTENTS  ::

(1)  ASESMA in Ghana 2016: a summary

(2)  Eni Award Deadline

(3)  ASESMA Online

:: ASESMA in Ghana ::

A message from Richard Martin:

ASESMA 2016 was an exhilarating experience for me and also for the
lecturers, mentors, and participants who have expressed their
appreciation for the experience!   There is a full report linked here
(, but I want to give you a short summary that was sent
to the International Advisory Panel the week after the school.

There were participants from 13 different sub-saharan African
countries, more then at any of the previous three schools. I believe
that this time marks a milestone in building a community among the
continuing participants, as well as being especially successful in
introducing new participants to the field. The answers on the
questionnaire at the end of the school were very positive with
expressions of appreciation for the opportunity to interact with
experts from the global science community and with other Africans.
They expressed hope and optimism for continued interactions and future

In my opinion, there were several factors that were especially
important for the optimistic attitudes of the participants and
* The first week is courses and tutorials with more experienced
participants helping the  ones that were learning the concepts and
methods.  I believe this built camaraderie that was important for the
rest of the school.
* The second week was mainly devote to projects. This year there were
6 projects that were all very successful.  Each involves the aspects
of a real research project and can be the basis for further
collaboration.  In least 4 (possibly all 6) projects the participants
want to continue and there is a good possibility of a paper that can
be published. They are described in the full report.
* Interaction with the leaders was especially good, and every lecturer
and mentor expressed appreciation to be included to ASESMA.

The local community in Ghana did not have much prior expertise in the
area of electronic structure calculations for solids, but there was
strength in chemistry, materials science and other fields. They could
learn quickly, participate in projects and contribute their knowledge.
They are enthused to build up research in electronic structure of

The groups in Nigeria togther with the Ghana group, along with other
regional groups in Kenya, Congo/Cameroon, and South Africa, are
bringing to fruition the anticipated network for research in
sub-saharan Africa.

The challenge is to build upon the enthusiasm to provide opportunities
to participate in the global science community and to continue
building up an active African community.

Sadly, we recognized the passing of Walter Kohn, and we emphasized to
the participants what a positive role model he is as a giant of our
field, with tremendous influence, and yet personable and caring for
people everywhere. ASESMA is grateful for his contributions to the
Advisory Panel.  He will be missed.

With appreciation,

Richard Martin

:: Eni Award  ::

The Eni Award is an international award for the best research projects
in the field of energy and sustainability listed below. In particular,
there are two 'Young Talents from Africa' awards with the prize of a
scholarship. The deadline is November 25, 2016 at 17.00 (CET). For
further information, and how to apply, visit

The Prize “Energy Transition” - 200.000 Euros
The Prize “Energy Frontiers” - 200.000 Euros
The Prize “Advanced Environmental Solutions” - 200.000 Euros
Two Prizes “Young Researcher of the Year” - 25.000 Euros each
Two Prizes “Debut in Research: Young Talents from Africa” - Two scholarships

:: ASESMA Online ::

In addition to each school's individual website, you can find
information on the whole ASESMA program on It also
contains previous newsletter and a resources section with many of the
lecture notes from previous schools. If there is something that you
think should be included on the ASESMA website, please email with your suggestions.

In addition, you can find us on Twitter under the handle @asesma_news
or on Facebook ( Our
Twitter account was featured in the Institute of Physic's
#iamaphysicist day earlier in the summer!


Winter 2015

Dear ASESMA friends,

I'm delighted to give you the full details of the fourth ASESMA school below, 
which will be held in Ghana in June 2016. Please see 
for full details and the application.

Best regards,
Sinead Griffin


The African School series on Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA)
 is planned on a biennial basis from 2010 to 2020. The schools emphasize the theory
 and computational methods for predicting and understanding properties of materials 
through calculations at the fundamental level of electronic structure. Previous schools 
were held in Cape Town -South Africa (2010), Eldoret - Kenya (2012), and Johannesburg 

PROGRAMME:  The activity will cover basic methodological aspects such as density 
functional theory, electronic structure, many-body methods such as DFT+U, BSE, GW 
and quantum Monte Carlo, as well as molecular dynamics. It will also cover the application
 of these methods to the mechanical, dynamical, electronic, optical and magnetic properties 
of materials. The school will consist of lectures and of hands-on computational laboratories 
based on state-of-the-art codes. Each participant will engage in a project depending upon 
his/her level. The projects will vary from calculation of the stable structures of materials for 
those without previous background in density functional calculations to more advanced 
calculations for those with more experience.

GRANTS: A limited number of grants are available to support the travel and living expenses 
of selected participants, with priority given to participants working in Africa and who are at the 
early stages of their career.

HOW TO APPLY FOR PARTICIPATION: Participants should have a background in solid state 
physics or chemistry at advanced undergraduate level, and be familiar with basic use of Linux 
and computer programming. The online application form can be accessed here below. Once
 in the website, comprehensive instructions will guide you step-by-step, on how to fill out and 
submit the application form.


Fall 2015

Dear friends of ASESMA:
A warm welcome to the ASESMA Newsletter, particularly to the new
members from the school in South Africa earlier this year!
I am happy to announce the ASESMA school 2016, along with funding
opportunities in Norway, a useful web resource called ISOTROPY, and a
message from Richard Martin announcing his exciting news of a
companion to "Electronic Structure: Basic Theory and Practical
Methods" which will be based on many-body methods.
For the next newsletter, we would love to receive any news, updates
and contributions that you may have. These can include, for example,
personal achievements, activities at your institute, a review of some
work you found interesting or a conference/workshop you attended and
would like to write about. Please send any contributions to by Oct 30 at the latest for inclusion in the
November letter.
Warm regards,
Sinead Griffin
::  CONTENTS  ::
(1)  ASESMA 2016 announcement
(2)  Message from Richard Martin
(3)  Postgraduate scholarships in Norway
(4)  Useful tool: ISOTROPY
We are delighted to announce that the next ASESMA school will take
place at the University of Ghana in Accra. The school will run from
June 12-25 2016. We will send more details on the school and the
application in the coming months.
:: Message from Richard Martin and New Book ::
Dear ASESMA friends,
I want to share with you some major news for me.  In July we completed
the manuscript for a book.  Together with coauthors Lucia Reining and
David Ceperley, we completed a book that has been in progress for 11
years.  It is now with the editors at Cambridge University Press and
it should be published in the first part of next year.
This is a the companion to my previous book* "Electronic Structure:
Basic Theory and Practical Methods" by Richard M. Martin, Cambridge
University Press, 2004 (reprinted and now a paperback). That book is
concerned mainly with density functional theory and methods to solve
the Kohn-Sham equations.
The new book is on many-body methods and is called "Interacting
Electrons: Basic theory and computational methods." It is devoted to
the properties of materials that require such methods and the three
widely used methods: many-body perturbation theory and the GW method;
dynamical mean field theory (DMFT); and quantum Monte Carlo (QMC). All
these methods were part of the last ASESMA and (together with DFT) are
the main methods used in research today.  For me this is near the end
of a saga that started in 1994 when I started writing with the plan to
explain the theory and important methods for electronic
structure theory and calculations.
* Information on the previous book can be found at  That web site has other resources
for electronic structure, but it is out of date and the plan is to
update it with information on the new book and resources for many-body
:: Scholarships in Norway ::
The Norwegian government runs a program providing scholarships for
students from developing countries for all levels of study, but
concentrating on Master and PhD level studies. Eligible countries
include Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, South
Africa, The Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, amongst others. The
deadline typically falls in December. More information can be found
:: Overview of ISOTROPY ::
A wonderful free suite of software (available both as an online tool
and download for Linux) is ISOTROPY
(, which might be of interest
to some of you. It's a multifaceted tool for analyzing crystal
structures, symmetries, distortions and space group relationships. The
site also includes some nice tutorials
( to give a taste of
its capabilities.
One of its more straight-forward tools, findsym
(, takes in a structure file --
either by uploading a cif file or inputting the lattice parameters and
atomic positions explicitly -- and outputs the symmetry group of the
system. Another useful feature of findsym is that along with the
symmetry analysis, it also outputs a cif file which can be useful for
transferring files between different codes, visualization tools, and
much more besides.

Summer 2014

Dear ASESMA friends, 
As you are aware, the 2014 ASESMA school was due to take place in Abuja,
Nigeria in early June. Unfortunately, the school is now postponed and
planned for a different location. This decision was made on the
recommendation by UNESCO (the parent organization for ICTP) that no
school should be held in Nigeria in the near future. 
The ASESMA organizers are currently working on new location for the
third biennial school, and we will keep you updated as more plans are
We hope you will stay involved in the ASESMA community and look forward
to seeing you at a future school.

Spring 2014

Dear friends of ASESMA:
Welcome to our Spring newsletter.
In this newsletter we are pleased to announce details for the next
ASESMA school in Nigeria with a message from Richard Martin.
All the best,
Sinead Griffin
::  CONTENTS  ::
(1)  Message from Richard Martin: Announcement of ASESMA school in Nigeria
(2)  Africa MRS, December 2013
(3)  Free e-membership to MRS
:: ASESMA school in Nigeria  ::
***Application Deadline: March 9, 2014***
The 3rd school in the ASESMA series will take place June 9-21 at the
African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Nigeria. The
school will cover topics in the theory and computational methods for
predicting and understanding the properties of materials. Building on
the previous schools in Cape Town, South Africa (2010) and Eldoret,
Kenya (2012), the programme will cover basic aspects in electronic
structure theory along with more advanced topics including optical
properties with time-dependent DFT and GW methods, Quantum Monte Carlo
methods and Molecular Dynamics.
Apply at:
Some more details from Richard Martin:
This is meant for previous participants who are proficient in the
basic material presented at ASESMA (use of QE, DFT, basic knowledge of
electronic states in crystals, etc.) and are currently active in
research (or want to be more active!).  At ASESMA 2014 there will be
several advanced topics on theoretical methods, and current issues in
condensed matter physics, materials science and chemistry.  Each will
be presented by an expert in the field with an overview, background,
and a hands-on project. This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn
about several areas and to go into more depth in one area. Graduate
students and other researchers in the rest of the world would love to
have this opportunity!
This is also open to others. Please let other people who are
appropriate know about this.
Space is limited and there will be a selection process, but we will
make every effort to include as many as possible among the applicants
who are best qualified to take advantage of the opportunity.
Here is a list advanced topics
(These are my classifications and the experts in each topic will
certainly describe them better.)
Two areas that are part of the emphasis this year on optical properties:
Time-dependent DFT for solids, molecules, surfaces, ...
GW and related methods for excitations in solids
Other topics:
X-ray absorption and related phenomena (the theory is closely related to GW)
Quantum Monte Carlo methods and applications to crystals
Dynamical mean field theory and "Strongly-correlated" materials
More advanced aspects of topics continuing from previous years:
Minerals and high pressure
Molecular dynamics and finite temperature
Other applications - not yet decided
In order to best benefit from participation, there will be background
for these areas provided before the school.  You are not expected to
become experts before the school, but you are expected to actively
participate in preparing for the school!
Many ASESMA colleagues attended the 7th International Conference of
the Africa Materials Research Society, which took place in Addis Ababa
in December. The conference focused on several materials-related
research themes, in particular those especially relevant to Africa. A
symposium on Computational Materials covered a selection of topics in
electronic structure methods and applications. Over a third of the
talks were given be ASESMA participants, ranging from electrocatalysis
and electron transport to materials for solar cells.
The Materials Research Society now offers FREE electronic-only
memberships (e-memberships) for students in developing
countries--countries defined as Lower-Income or Lower-Middle-Income
Economies by the World Bank..
More information and application details can be found at:


Winter 2013

Dear friends of ASESMA:
Happy New Year and welcome to our Winter 2013 newsletter!
I'm excited to tell you this issue of our newsletter includes
contributions from several correspondents:  Regina Rapela Maphanga
in Limpopo, South Africa; Georgies Alene Asres in Arba Minch,
Ethiopia; and Sinead Griffin in Zurich, Switerland. All three are
active ASESMA participants, and here they report on materials
science activities around the African continent.
We also have important information about ASESMA travel grants
available to African students and researchers. Apply now for one
of these great opportunities.
Warm regards,
Alison Hatt
::  CONTENTS  ::
(1)  ASESMA Travel Grants Available
(2)  Honoring Prof. Phuti Ngoepe at University of Limpopo
(3)  Forming Alliances in Addis Ababa
(4)  ASESMA Travels to Sudan
:: ASESMA Travel Grants ::
Applications for ASESMA-supported travel grants are welcome from
African students and researchers who seek support for one of the
A. Attend and present research contributions at workshops and
schools in the area of electronic structure methods and
applications, in Europe, US, or elsewhere. Requests for travel
support must contain the title and abstract of the contribution,
its status (accepted, submitted, poster, oral, etc) and a brief
description of the motivations.
B. Visit other teams in Africa or elsewhere for short periods for
collaboration. Requests for travel support must contain a one-page
summary of the proposed collaboration. The description should
include the scientific context and relevance, the motivation of
why the collaborative aspect is essential, and a realistic work
plan of the visit.
Students and young researcher are advised to ask their
supervisor(s) or a senior member of the community to write a few
lines in support of the application. Please attach a short CV to
the application.  Applications must be submitted to Sandro
Scandolo ( and will be evaluated on a rolling
basis. Support is available for events and visits taking place
between now and April 2013.
Lists of workshops/schools in the area of electronic structure in
Europe are available at the following websites: CECAM: Psi-K network: (registration is free but
Previous recipients of ASESMA travel support include Abu Yaya
(Ghana) and Michael Atambo (Kenya) who participated in the Trieste
"Total Energy" Workshop and subsequent "Hands-on" school The
workshop and school took place from 10 to 18 January at ICTP.
:: Honoring Prof. Phuti Ngoepe at University of Limpopo ::
by Regina Rapela Maphanga, Limpopo, South Africa
For two days in early January, The University of Limpopo hosted a
two-day conference on “Perspectives in Materials Science and
Physics† in honour of Professor Phuti Ngoepe's 60th birthday.  The
conference attracted both local participants, such as government
officials and former and current students, as well as
international collaborators, who reflected on contributions made
by Prof.  Ngoepe.  As described by the speakers, Prof. Ngoepe has
immensely contributed to science policy development in South
Africa in the form of science and technology strategies, such as
nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, hydrogen economy, energy
research, battery research, mining and minerals research, and high
performance computing.
With a career spanning nearly 40 years, Prof. Ngoepe has taught
and supervised postgraduate students and contributed significantly
towards the establishment of projects such as the University
Foundation Year (UNIFY), Science Teacher In-Service Training
(UNIST), minerals and mining. He is currently South African
Research Chair on Computational Modelling of Materials, Director
of Materials Modelling Centre at University of Limpopo and Council
for Science and Industrial Research Fellow, and has also served as
Dean of what was then the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural
Prof. Ngoepe has research interests in computational modeling of
materials ranging from electronic to nanoscales and covering
energy storage, minerals, metal alloys and polymers. He has
received numerous awards for his outstanding contribution in
Science, Engineering and Technology development in SA and
maintains a strong link with both local and international
collaborations, in United Kingdom, United States of America,
France and Japan.
:: Building Alliances in Addis Ababa ::
by Georgies Alene, Arba Minch, Ethiopia
The first Materials Research School of the Joint US-Africa
Materials Institute on Materials for Sustainable Energy was
conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10 December 2012-20 December
The initiative aims to build materials science research and
collaborations between the United States and Africa, with an
initial focus on East Africa, and to develop ties between young
materials researchers in both regions in a school taught by top
materials researchers.  Fifty-three PhD and early career materials
researcher from across the US and East Africa, and 15
internationally recognized instructors bring together by the
school. The school combines lectures, problem solving and cultural
exchange in historic Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and last for two week.
Topics include photocatalysis, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics,
fuel cells, and batteries.
I was one of the East African student attended the event.  The
two-week duration was enough for us to learn many things from the
instructors and the attendees through lecture and exchanging
ideas.  We have got important ideas which support our current
research and study.
During the school, besides other interesting and helpful programs,
we students divided into groups and prepared some research topics
to work in collaboration after the school. Each group discussed
with the group members and presents their interest project topic.
Then any of the attendees got a chance to choose one topic which
interests him or her. The aim is to establish a long-term
productive partnership between US and African students. For us
especially it is important because some of our research work
cannot proceed because of the non-existence of some laboratory
equipment and this collaboration will help us to perform the
research parts which require this equipment in US by sending the
samples to our partners in US.  In the long term even by
facilitating a way for scientists in Africa to travel to US for a
short term lab work.
The event was very successful and I would like to thank all the
organizers hard work to establish this initiative and make it very
important. Thank you also the speakers, and all of the students
for making it so memorable and worthwhile.
For more information please look at the various social media
outlets we have to share and preserve our experiences. You can
find our Facebook page at and our blog
is found at
:: ASESMA Travels to Khartoum ::
by Sinead Griffin, Zurich, Switzerland
From January 19-30, the Khartoum Workshop on Advances in Materials
Science took place in Sudan, supported by the ASESMA series. The
workshop was hosted by the University of Khartoum and included
over 40 participants from Sudan, North Sudan and Kenya with
lecturers and tutors from Italy, UK, Oman and Switzerland also.
The schedule was the usual ASESMA setup with lectures and talks
taking place in the morning and hands-on tutorials in the
afternoon.  The lectures ranged from the basic of Density
Functional Theory up to current research in computational
materials science. Research talks were focused on energy materials
and applications, with an emphasis on using Density Functional
Theory to calculate and predict new materials' properties. The
tutorial sessions covered methods from basic Linux and structure
visualisation to hands-on practice of Quantum Espresso and GULP.
Along with the comprehensive workshop programme, the organisers
arranged various cultural events for the evenings and free time
during the workshop. These included a Nile boat trip, a visit to
the Jebel Aulia hydroelectric dam, and some Sudanese singing.


Fall 2012

Hello, friends of ASESMA. Welcome to our Fall newsletter. 

We have big ideas for the coming season, including guest editors,
plans for a new ASESMA website and a logo design competition. 

Don't forget, we have most of the lecture notes from the Kenya
workshop, plus photos and other good stuff, on our website,

::  CONTENTS  ::

(1)  News Round-Up on Science in Africa

(2)  Workshop Announcement on Mathematical Modelling and Simulation

(3)  IUPAP offers Visting Scientists programme

(4)  Literature Highlight: New Pub from ASESMA Lecturers 

(5)  Berkeley Lab Blog About Kenya Workshop

::  News Round-Up on Science in Africa  ::

Science is alive and well in Africa, and here are a couple of
stories to prove it.

The New York Times recently covered a new I.B.M. research center to
be established in Nairobi. From the article: "The I.B.M. lab is seen
as a step toward reversing the tradition of bright young Africans’
departing for the West, in search of advanced education and jobs."

Read more at:

Science Magazine, the esteemed research journal, highlighted the new
International Square Kilometre Array (SKA) to be built in South
Africa. ASESMA's own Nithaya Chetty is playing a major role in the
project, in what is to be the world's largest scientific instrument. 

Read more at:

For non-subscribers, you can find the full text here:

::  Abuja Workshop Announcement  ::

The Workshop on Mathematical Modelling and Simulation will be held
next week, October 8-12, in Abuja, Nigeria. 

Course Outline:

  Fundamental concepts of mathematical modeling.  Axiomatic systems
  and logical models and applications in ecology, biomedicine,
  economics engineerting and in the industry.  Stability analysis of
  physical and biological systems.  Computer simulation:
  Fundamental simulation concepts, simulation languages.  Random
  number generators and applications to simulation process.  Monte
  Carlo simulation and application to industrial problems like
  hazard, reliability and life expectancy of equipment.  Medical
  imaging application of simulation in surgery and for medical
  system.  Experimental Session:  Application of simulation packages
  like maple, Mathematica, Matlab,Scilab, O’matrix, Femilab, Mathcad
  professional and Python programming language.

  Resource Persons
  - Professor R O Ayeni,Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomoso
  - Professor S. O. Enebe, University of Nigeria
  - Professor L. A.A Asere,Obafemi Awolowo University

  Workshop Fees:       N20,000.00  for course materials plus
  refreshment excluding accommodations

::  IUPAP offers Visting Scientists programme  ::

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has
started a new Visiting Scientists programme.

The programme will provide assistance aimed at helping research
groups or institutions in developing countries benefit from
interactions with experts in research groups or institutions in
other countries.

It seeks to establish long-term productive partnerships between the
visiting scientists and the host institutions, and will support
opportunities for scientists at institutions in a developing country
to invite expert visitors from other countries to advise and work
with the scientists and their students on projects that will advance
the research and educational efforts in the developing country.

The first exchange visitors can now apply for funding, and further
information is available on the IUPAP website:

:: Literature Highlight: New Pub from ASESMA Lecturers  :: 

Nithaya Chetty and Aniekang Ukpong have a new paper out in the
Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, titled, "First principles
molecular dynamics study of nitrogen vacancy complexes in

Abstract: "We present the results of first principles molecular
dynamics simulations of nitrogen vacancy complexes in monolayer
hexagonal boron nitride. The threshold for local structure
reconstruction is found to be sensitive to the presence of a
substitutional carbon impurity. We show that activated nitrogen
dynamics triggers the annihilation of defects in the layer through
formation of Stone–Wales-type structures. The lowest energy state of
nitrogen vacancy complexes is negatively charged and spin polarized.
Using the divacancy complex, we show that their formation induces
spontaneous magnetic moments, which is tunable by electron or hole
injection. The Fermi level s-resonant defect state is identified as
a unique signature of the ground state of the divacancy complex. Due
to their ability to enhance structural cohesion, only the divacancy
and the nitrogen vacancy carbon-antisite complexes are able to
suppress the Fermi level resonant defect state to open a gap between
the conduction and valence bands."

:: Berkeley Lab Blog About Kenya Workshop  :: 

Finally, for those who missed it or those who simply wish to relive
the fun, check out Alison's blog about the Kenya workshop, written
for Berkeley Lab:

Spring 2012

Dear friends of ASESMA:

Welcome to our Spring newsletter. 

This week we have news about funding and a message from Richard
Martin in anticipation of next month's workshop. I look forward to
seeing many of you there!

Warm regards,

Alison Hatt

::  CONTENTS  ::

(1)  Important notice to ASESMA 2010 participants

(2)  Message from Richard Martin

(3)  Update on ASESMA 2012 


The International Center for Materials Research at UC Santa Barbara
needs updates about any collaborations or publications resulting from
ASESMA 2010. Please would all participants take a moment to recall
any relevant activities and send details to Lubi Lenaburg

This report is important for the ICMR's continued funding. Thanks for
your help!


Professor Richard Martin, an organizer and central driving force for
the ASESMA program, shares this message:


Dear ASESMA friends,

ASESMA 2012 is almost here.  George Amolo and Nicholas Makau are
doing a masterful job of planning and the program is taking shape.  
We've had a tremendous response to our call for participants  -- 225
applications!  That's great for ASESMA but it means a very hard task 
for those doing the selection. We also have excellent support from
agencies and institutions.   Your good work and dedication has been
noticed and there is support from all the institutions that supported
ASESMA 2010, plus two more.  

Of the schools I've been involved with, ASESMA 2010 was the best of
its kind.  I expect this year's school to be just as great, but it
will have some important differences.  As the second school in the
series, it is the next step toward the goal of an ongoing community
for Computational Materials Science in Africa. Together we will make
it an even better experience than 2010.  

Those of you attending ASESMA for the second time will tutor those
newer in the field.  That way, you help build the community and also
learn more, as the very best way to learn something is to teach it.
You'll also enjoy some higher-level lectures and projects for more
experienced students.

Of course, we are limited in the number of participants we can
support. If you are not able to attend this year for any reason,
please keep in close touch.  I hope there will be new opportunities
and announcements, and it will always be good to be in touch with the
ASESMA community.

In a final note, I'm happy to announce that my new book on Electronic
Structure will be finished this summer. My coauthors, David Ceperly
and Lucia Reining, and I have been working on it for years
and it will finally be finished this summer!  (We have missed
previous deadlines but this time we told the publishers they can
announce it.)  At this year's school, I will donate a copy of the new
book as a prize, to be delivered after publication in 2013.

Warm Regards,

Richard Martin.


Finally, we have some news about the 2012 school. The participant
selection is underway -- a challenging prospect given the volume and
high quality of the applicants. The first letters should be sent by
the end of the week.

The organizers are happy to report that ASESMA received a generous
grant from the International Council for Science.  The grant will
cover: i) five extra participants in ASESMA-2012; and, more
importantly for the broader ASESMA community, ii) several travel
grants for African young scientists to participate in international
conferences, visit research groups, both within and outside Africa;
iii) travel grants to support visits of international collaborators
to African groups. The grant covers the calendar year 2012. 

Thanks to the organizers who put so much work into making this
program successful. 


October/November 2011
Dear ASESMA people:

As you may have noticed, our newsletter is now a bimonthly
publication.  Just to clarify, the unfortunate English word
"bimonthly" can mean twice a month or every other month, and here
I'm using it in the latter sense.  We will strive to continue
publishing on the third Thursday of a given month, but as you can
see, it may occasionally come a bit later.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the October/November edition of
the ASESMA newsletter.  

Warm regards,

Alison Hatt

::  CONTENTS  ::

(1)  Making a good research poster

(2)  Hot research topic:  Energy critical elements 

(3)  Physics lectures online

(4)  Announcement from Richard Martin about ASESMA 2012


Recently, I had to make a research poster for the first time in a
couple of years.  I'd forgotten how challenging that can be, and I
found myself wondering, what makes a good research poster?  Below
are some links to sites I found helpful for designing a good poster
and a summary of the main points I drew from these sites.

(i)   One or two main points.  Limit yourself to one or two central
points, back them up with results, and highlight them clearly.  

(ii)  Keep it simple.  This means minimal text, readable fonts,
modest colors, and clear organization.

(iii) Practice your spiel.  Just like you would for an oral
presentation, practice out loud to make sure you are prepared.  You
must be able to present the content of your poster in a couple of
minutes, and to repeat the performance over and over again.   

(iv)  "Don't fight gravity."  Readers' eyes tend to move top to
bottom and left to right.  Design your poster to flow accordingly,
helping readers to quickly grasp the structure.

(v)   Think of your audience.  At most poster sessions, your
audience will be trying to absorb tens of posters in a couple of
hours.  It's your job to help them get the most out of your poster
in the least amount of time.  Be sensitive to their tired eyes and
overloaded brains! 

For more tips:


Energy critical elements: It's a new buzz-phrase over here, and
refers to the key elements used in energy-related technologies.  It
carries the implied concern that many of these elements are in
limited supply or come from regions of geopolitical instability.
The topic is part of a growing awareness in materials research about
the sustainability and scalability of technologies designed to
address global problems in energy use and production.  

The American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society
recently sponsored a policy report on energy critical elements,
titled "Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies." (Available
for download at The
report is dense, but it's worth browsing if you want to know where
US materials research is going right now.  The topic is getting a
lot of attention here at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and will probably
have a noticeable impact on funding in the coming years. 

The Perimeter Institute maintains this archive of physics lectures,
available for streaming and downloading.  Browse for lectures on the
most fundamental and cutting-edge areas of physics research.  (You
may recall that the founder of AIMS, Neil Turok, is Director of the
Perimeter Institute.)
The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics also shares hundreds of
videos from their seminars and public lectures.  For example, check
out this set of tutorials on computational mineral physics,
featuring many of our own ASESMA lecturers: 

::  NEWS ABOUT ASESMA 2012  ::

Richard Martin tells us that the Division of Computational Physics
of the American Physical Society  has enthusiastically agreed to
sponsor ASESMA 2012 and provide financial support.  They also
supported ASESMA in 2010.  

This time, their sponsorship was more quickly agreed to because of
the enthusiasm around the the 2010 school and the continuing
networking after the school.

You have received this newsletter because you either participated in
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