A final year Student of the UTG from the small village of Kafuta has been selected as one of the young researchers from around the world to participate in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany.
The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is an annual meeting organised by the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation to bring together winners of the most prestigious scientific awards in Mathematics (Abel Prize, Fields Medal and Nevanlinna Prize) and Computer Science (ACM Turing Award) with a select group of highly talented young researchers from all over the world to get the unique opportunity to interact with their scholarly role models during a week of lectures, panel discussions and interactive sessions in the historic German city of Heidelberg.
In her welcome address to officially open the 9th HLF 2022, the Chairperson of the HLF and Managing Director of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Beate Spiegel, emphasised the significance of the scientific fraternity to be in unison towards providing solutions to many of the world’s problems.
She expressed joy at welcoming participants in Heidelberg after two years of remote digital events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Samba Jallow, dubbed the Fulani mathematician is the first Gambian researcher to be invited to the Heidelberg Laureate Forum.
Jallow, a Physics and Mathematics major at the UTG was selected together with 200 fellow young researchers from across the globe following a rigorous evaluation process by international experts of mathematics and computer science appointed by award-granting institutions like the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA).
The 26-year-old Kafuta native said he was inspired to apply due to the numerous benefits that came with being an alumni of the 9th HLFF. According to him, it gives young researchers the opportunity to speak about their research and the need to utilise mathematics as an invaluable tool to solve many of the problems in the world.
“For example, my research project involves using number theory algorithms in cryptosystems,” he said, adding that he felt truly excited to be selected for the 9th HLF.
“I felt truly excited, knowing already the benefits behind attending the HLF. For example, meeting Laureates in my field and many young researchers had really increased my anticipation and excitement upon hearing that I was selected.”
Since its inception in 2013, the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation(HLFF) took up the initiative to contribute towards the promotion of the sciences through the creation of an annual platform for young researchers from all over the world to meet, discuss and interact with distinguished Laureates in the fields of computer science and mathematics in the university town of Heidelberg- home of Germany’s oldest university.
The young Gambian researcher stated that he had acquired useful knowledge – from the various Laureates of Mathematics and Computer Science in attendance – which would prove quite invaluable in his future research endeavours.
“The connections made with the laureates and fellow young researchers who hailed from countries all around the world, from South and North America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania will be quite significant in my career projects,” Jallow noted.
More than 400 attendees: amongst them about 200 young researchers, over 25 laureates and various media personnel from all over globe converged on the university town of Heidelberg for a week-long conference full of inspiration and exchange of ideas.
“I met laureates like Vinton Gray Cerf, father of the Internet, Robert Tarjan, Whitfield Diffie and many more, each of these great men demonstrated an excellent candour of sharing knowledge in a way that was quite insightful,” Jallow stated.
The aspirant science researcher encouraged students from the UTG to apply for future HLFs, citing the benefits and opportunities it will give for many Gambian students to showcase their research skills to the outside world ‘thereby keeping the Gambian flag at higher heights’.
“My advice to future HLF applicants is this, let them stay focused and believe in what they do. The environment might not be conducive but with early preparations and passion they can push you beyond the limits,” he advised, adding that he is ‘more than willing to share the experience and knowledge gained from the 9th HLF with future applicants from the Gambia.
Mr. Jallow noted that his aim to become a science researcher was motivated by his passion to help address many significant problems in the Gambian society coupled with his newly-gained experience at the 9th HLF.
“Knowledge is powerful but it’s more powerful when it’s shared, the knowledge I gained from the forum I believe will have a lot of positive impacts by collaborating with students and professors at the University of The Gambia which can yield results beyond expectation, as this can go a long way to help upcoming research projects supported by the HLF AlumNode that could solve existing problems in the Gambian society,” the Kafuta native remarked.
He, however, expressed utter disappointment at the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (MoHERST) of The Gambia for failing to show interest or support towards his research endeavours in the Republic of Germany.
“To my disappointment, the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (MoHERST) not only failed to support me with funding but also ignored every inquiry I made after sending my application for funding at the ministry, ” he lamented, adding that they failed to live up to the full meaning of ‘Research’ as embedded in the ministry’s designation.
Jallow implored the ministry to be proactive and show more commitment to support Gambians with genuine passion for research and opportunities to exhibit their research works, particularly at international platforms like the Heidelberg Laureate Forum.
The final year Physics and Mathematics major at the University of The Gambia is the first of his family to attend University.
For his part, Jallow’s Physics Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Mr. Lamin Conteh, said he was not surprised by his selection as one of the global researchers at the HLF, adding that he has always showed full commitment towards his academia and research activities.
The Heidelberg Laureate Forum traditionally takes place in the last week of September every year attracting wide participation from representatives drawn from Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and America.
The researchers from Africa comprised 14 Nigerians, one Burundian, one Gambian, four Cameroonians, three Ghanaians and four South Africans.
For their part, young researchers; Tejumade Afonja from Nigeria and Balsam Alkouz from Jordan, both expressed delight at having a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet laureates and interact with them closely.
In another related session at the HLF, Recipient of the 2018 ACM Prize in Computing, Dr. Shwetak N. Patel of the University of Washington, delivered remarks at a Press Conference, saying his research activities which focuses on ubiquitous computing including novel user interface technology, health sensing, and human-computer interaction are quickly expanding across the entire sub-Saharan Africa, including The Gambia.
As part of the week-long scientific exchange, attendees partake in a reception, a traditional ‘Bavarian Evening’, an exciting boat trip along the beautiful Neckar River, a guided tour through the Heidelberg castle and various site visits to institutions.
The HLF was founded in 2013 by the German foundation Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science.
Among the crème de la crème who graced the occasion were the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the Rector of Heidelberg University, Berhard Eitel, the chairperson of the HLFF and Managing Director of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Beate Spiegel and more than twenty Laureates of Mathematics and Computer Science.