About the National Institute for Theoretical Physics

Mission

To sustain a stimulating theoretical physics research and user facility that links South Africa internationally through excellence in research and training thereby supporting scientific innovation, transformation and socio economic development in South Africa.

Vision

To be Africa's leading and an internationally competitive research and training institute in theoretical physics, a discipline that provides the conceptual framework for the natural sciences.

A home for theoretical physics

The National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) is a national facility that leads research programmes and educational opportunities in the field of theoretical physics in South Africa and Africa. It provides South Africa with the opportunity to become an international player in a truly fundamental field of science.

NITheP is a geographically distributed institute that includes all theoretical physicists in South Africa. Its headquarters is the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) at Stellenbosch University, with regional nodes at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The three nodes develop and support theoretical physics in their local regions, as well as nationally.

Our History

NITheP was officially launched in May 2008. World-renowned theoretic physicist Prof Stephen Hawking, Nobel Laureate Prof David Gross and the South African Minister of Science and Technology were among those who attended the launch.

The process of bringing NITheP to fruition follows on four years of behind-the-scenes planning, negotiations and consultation. The wheels were set in motion after an international panel, commissioned by the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Research Foundation (NRF) tabled a report in 2004 on "Shaping the Future of Physics in South Africa". It recommended, amongst others, that a national institute for theoretical physics be established to act as a user facility for South African and African theoretical physicists.

A broad consultative process within the South African physics community followed, resulting in the tabling of a proposal to the DST and NRF in November 2004. The proposal received strong support from the international physics community. Letters of endorsement were received from several winners of the Nobel Prize for physics, as well as from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

After two more years of negotiations to refine the proposal, the South African government announced the establishment of NITheP in May 2006 and committed funding for an initial five-year period. The necessary infrastructure was put in place in 2007, while the first positions for director, five researchers and five post doctorates were advertised by the end of that year.

Our Programmes

For students:
Bursaries
Travel grants for bursary holders
Internships for students

For Associates:
Visitor programme
Mobility programme
Workshops and research programmes

Scientific Advisory Committee

Prof Sylvester James Gates (University of Maryland)
Prof Alan Cornell (University of the Witwatersrand)
Prof Jan Govaerts (Catholic University of Louvain)
Prof Sir Peter Knight (Imperial College London)
Prof Francesco Petruccione (NITheP University of KwaZulu-Natal node)
Prof Frans Pretorius (Princeton University)
Prof Fernando Quevedo (International Centre for Theoretical Physics)
Prof Kennedy Reed (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
Prof Joao Rodrigues (NITheP University of the Witwatersrand node)
Prof Shahin Sheikh-Jabbari (Institute for Research in Fundamental/ IPM)
Prof Frederik Scholtz (NITheP Stellenbosch node)
Prof Neil Turok (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics)

Steering committee members (1 September 2015 until 31 August 2018)

Dr Rob Adam (SKA)
Prof Eugene Cloete (SU)
Prof Barry Green (AIMS)
Dr Joseph Kirui (UNIVEN)
Prof Azwinndini Muronga (NMMU)
Prof Francesco Petruccione (UKZN)
Prof Joao Rodrigues (NITheP) (WITS)
Mr Nathan Sassman (NRF)
Prof Frederik Scholtz (NITheP) (SU)
Prof Amanda Weltman (UCT)

Management Committee

Prof Alan Cornell (NITheP Associate Representative)(University of the Witwatersrand)
Prof Francesco Petruccione (NITheP Deputy-Director) (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
Prof Joao Rodrigues (NITheP Deputy-Director)(University of the Witwatersrand)
Prof Frederik Scholtz (NITheP Director)

How to apply for a Visitor Grant?

NITheP welcomes Visitors, and extends an open invitation to all members of the South African and International Theoretical Physics community.

Access to NITheP's visitor program:

One of the NITheP Associates (please click here for a list of our Associates http://nithep.ac.za/associates.html) will lodge the application on your behalf. The NITheP Associate will receive support from NITheP to allow them to support longer term visiting collaborators. Typically NITheP will render such support for a period of 1-6 months. This support will cover accommodation and subsistence of the visitor at the associate's institution, but not travel cost. The approval of this support will be subject to the submission of a satisfactory research proposal.

How to become a NITheP Associate?

A member of the South African Physics community could become a NITheP Associate either by invitation, or by application. In order to apply, please e-mail a request to renekotze(at)sun.ac.za, including CV, publications and research statement). *(Provided that the applicant is affiliated to a South African institute/university)

The aim of the NITheP Associate program is to promote research and training in Theoretical Physics at all institutions in South Africa.

The term of appointment will be three years, with a review at the end of the period.

As an individual associate member you will enjoy the following benefits:

1) Access to NITheP's visitor program. This will allow you to apply for support of longer term visiting collaborators. Typically NITheP will render such support for a period of 1-6 months. This support will cover accommodation and subsistence of the visitor at the associate's institution, but not travel cost. The approval of this support will be subject to the submission of a satisfactory research proposal.

2) Access to NITheP's workshop and research programs. NITheP will support workshops or research programs organised at the associate's institution or another appropriate venue the associate may choose. Research programs spanning a period of 1-3 months will typically be supported. Funding of workshops and research programs will be subject to the submission of a proposal containing an exposition of the topics to be covered, the organizing committee, invited participants and budget requirements. The proposal must also explain the relevance of the topics for the South African Theoretical Physics and Physics communities and must indicate the training opportunities the event will offer to local students and researchers.

3) Access to NITheP's mobility program. NITheP will support collaborative visits by the associate or his collaborators at other SA tertiary institutions for a maximum of two months/year. The approval of this support will be subject to the submission of a satisfactory research proposal and will include accommodation and subsistence at the node and, with strong motivation, also transport cost.

A call for proposals under the above programs will be sent out to all associates in August each year to enable the NITheP management to budget for these activities in the following financial cycle. In case all proposals can not be funded, preference will be given to proposals by institutional associates, while all other proposals will be judged on merit.

Dr Kevin Goldstein (WITS) has been elected by the NITheP associates to represent them on the NITheP management committee (MANCO). Apart from this, direct input into the agenda and meetings of the NITheP management is possible, since a call for agenda points are made to all Associates before every MANCO meeting. This gives each Associate the opportunity to make direct input into decisions affecting the Theoretical Physics community.

An associate workshop is also held annually. At these workshops matters affecting associates and the Theoretical Physics community, particularly NITheP's medium to longer term strategies, are discussed. A scientific program is also included at the Associate Workshops.

Outreach programmes

NITheP aims to develop an active outreach program to schools and the broader community. The aim is to make learners and the public more aware of the role science plays in our daily lives as well as the cutting edge issues in science today.

NITheP Annual Report 2015

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NITheP Annual Report 2014

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NITheP Annual Report 2013

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NITheP Annual Report 2012

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NITheP Annual Report 2011

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NITheP Annual Report 2010

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NITheP Annual Report 2009

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NITheP Annual Report 2008

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