SenamileSenamile Masango, popularly known as Sena, is Founder and Chairperson of Women in Science and Engineering in Africa (“Wise Africa”). Wise Africa is an NGO registered with the department of Social Development, that:

  • Provides leadership and role models for young people wishing to enter the fields of Science and Technology;
  • Profiles women Scientists and Engineers, and lobbies for their advancement
  • Highlights and addresses challenges faced specifically by women in these fields;
  • Strengthens the research efforts and training opportunities for young women Scientists and Engineers
  • Increases the scientific productivity and efficiency of women scientist in the third world by conducting surveys and analysing the status of women; and Promotes the recognition of achievements of women.

Senamile Matriculated at Mlokothwa High School in 2003. Her formal qualifications include BSc in Physics and Electronics from University of Zululand; Diploma in Project Management from Varsity College; and Honours BSc in Physics with a Nuclear Physics major from University of Zululand. She is currently studying MSc in Nuclear Physics at University of the Western Cape.

Her career life has always been marked with determination and leadership attributes from an early age. Once, she opened her house as a study centre for Grade 10 –12 learners in her community, to whom she also provided Maths and Physics lessons, as well as career guidance. She also donated all her high school study material and books to learners who couldn’t afford to buy prescribed textbooks, while she assisted University entrants with application process and fees.

Special projects and contributions:

  • Sena has been invited to talk shows on numerous Radio Stations such as Gagasi FM, SAFM, Khaya-FM, Cape Talk radio and Nongoma FM, talking about women in Science and encouraging more Black women particularly in rural areas to embrace Science studies.
  • She is a Professional Project Manager
  • Her past portfolios include, among others:
  • Executive Member of Project Management South Africa (KZN Region)
  • Executive Member in Faculty of Science and Agriculture in UNIZUL
  • Secretary of UKZN PMB Athletics.
  • Deputy Secretary of Peace Aid International
  • Chairperson of Young African Women in Leadership
  • Project Manager and Acting Director at CMA Consultant Engineers.
  • Teaching Maths and Physics to high school learners.

What is she busy with at the moment?

She is a full time MSc student in Nuclear physics. She specializes in experiments investigating the structure of the nucleus, using a technique called coulomb excitation to add to the body of knowledge that helps to understand the nuclear force that is still under research.

Current Leadership Role:

She is the Deputy Chairperson at the Postgraduate School at UWC, and the Chairperson of United African Youth

She is all about:

  • Women empowerment, she would like to see more South Africans, including herself, graduating in PHD;
  • Passionate about education, she wants to contribute in making RSA education system a better one;
  • Contributing in RSA’S technological and economic growth;
  • Improving high school pass rate in Maths and Science;
  • Being a good role model and a mentor;
  • Changing lives of the youth, especially from the disadvantaged background;
  • Bringing Science to people, and encouraging more black researchers in scarce skills;
  • Making education fashionable in her lifetime;

Her big break in 2017:

  • She has just presented her work at South African Institute of Physics;
  • She made history when she was honoured as a First African woman to be part of a first African-led experiment at CERN; (She also received an acknowledgement from the President)
  • She was invited in parliament (South Africa) to be part of the International woman conference 2017, she made a speech addressing issues that are faced by women in science especially women from the disadvantaged background, where her passion is at she want to take science to the people.
  • She have made a lot of international head line written in different language like French and Turkish. Her story is all over the Internet.
  • She is going to be featured in the first ladies documentary that is going to be broadcasted in 14 African countries.
  • She one of the speakers at the 4th SA-China Symposium;
  • She is an Associate Member at CERN;
  • She is the Spokesperson of the UWC Coulex group;
  • She worked with Laura Owing who is a reporter with SciDev.net, where she contributed on the article “Brain Drain” in Africa, which covered science graduates that are either unemployed or not pursuing careers in science;
  • She is a candidate for Science for today 2017, chosen amongst more than 100 applicants all over South Africa. Her work was published in Mail Guardian newspaper in 1 December 2017.
  • She was an invited speaker International Workshop on “Physics Opportunities using CAGRA and RCNP tracking Ge detector” (CAGRA17) This was her first International talk and more are coming.
  • She was just featured at the Home Away Show, that was broadcasted in USA and she is going to be featured again.
  • Her impressive research topic has earned an invitation to join the American Journal of Modern Physics as an editorial member representing Africa.

What is CERN?

The European Organization for Nuclear Research physicists and engineers who are probing the fundamental structure of the universe, using the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into fundamental laws of nature.

Why CERN?

Because at CERN scientists can also accelerate ions which are very short-lived, such as 70Se which only lives for about 41 minutes and is only produced during X-Ray bursts. The most common stellar explosions occur in neutron stars. We can only study such exotic nuclei in laboratories such as CERN. So far we can only accelerate stable beams which do not cause decay to others at iThemba LABS.

Why is it relevant?

In terms of nuclear structure, there is a unique phenomenon which happens only in nuclei. Nuclei can change shapes with a very small amount of excitation energy. The phenomenon is not well understood and may influences the decay properties of the nucleus, which in turn, affects how it decays to stable nuclei and, hence, accounts for the abundance of elements. In essence, the study focuses on how elements are created in stellar explosions.

One big question?

Are X-Ray bursts or neutron stars nurseries of elements? Nobody knows if the elements produced in what is called the rp-process (rapid proton capture) happening in the surface of neutron stars, included 70Se, are ejected towards the empty space in the universe to produce the original matter which can form additional stars, planets, etc. The gravitational pull of the neutron star may be too strong for elements to be ejected. But as I said, nobody knows.

Through continued progressive research studies, we aim to know.

Um’ UJehova evul’ iminyango, akekho ongavala! Sangena – akekho ongavala!

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