South African Delegation, Led by Minister Pandor, Visits UCLA to broaden the scope of academic research and innovation

By Nicole Wilkins

(Image credit: Oliver Chien, UCLA International Institute)

A delegation from South Africa recently visited UCLA, meeting with leadership including Chancellor Gene Block, to foster increased collaboration and discover technological and academic resources to broaden exchanges between South African institutions.

The delegation was led by Her Excellency Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, the Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for South Africa. Minister Pandor was joined by additional South African dignitaries including Consul General Thandile B Sunduza.

Minister Pandor noted: “I am pleased to note that UCLA maintains partnerships with South African higher education institutions, and I welcome the university’s plans to broaden the scope of academic research and innovation exchanges with our institutions.”

The Minister visited UCLA having just attended the 77th UN General Assembly in New York on behalf of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The purpose of her continued visit in the United States was to understand ways provide greater opportunities for developing countries, especially in areas of sustainable, clean energy and strengthening African health systems.

CNSI Director Jeff Miller (left) showcases advanced research technology in the BioPACIFIC MIP Living Biofoundry lab to Minister Pandor (center) and Consul General Sunduza (right) (Image courtesy: CNSI/UCLA)

The visit to UCLA was requested given the university’s stature as the #1 public university in the US and existing collaborations and partnerships, and Minister Pandor’s professional roles as an academic, higher education expert, former parliamentarian, and former Minister of Science and Technology.

In addition to Chancellor Block and Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement C. Cindy Fan, UCLA leadership from the UCLA International Institute, African Studies Center and California NanoSystems Institute joined Minister Pandor and the delegation for a discussion of areas of interest including African Studies, Artificial Intelligence, Arts and Culture, Global Health and the Nanosciences.

“UCLA has had longstanding relationships with institutions in South Africa, and it was a privilege to host Minister Pandor, Consul General Sunduza and their delegation for a rich discussion with our leadership and deans,” said Fan. “We look forward to further strengthening our partnerships with South Africa in the years ahead.”

The visiting delegation also spent time in the interest of research technology, touring the California NanoSystems Institute research, lab and incubator spaces led by Jeff F. Miller, Director, CNSI and Dr. Andre Nel, Director of Research, CNSI; Distinguished Professor of Medicine, who is also from South Africa.

“We are honored that the South African delegation, led by Minister Pandor, visited our campus and met with many researchers and university leaders,” said Miller. “Her interest in collaboration and partnership was exciting and we look forward to exploring ways our campus can support South Africa’s vision for the future of education, technology and research.”