S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

S2A3 biographical database of southern African science

The national council of S2A3 launched the compilation of a biographical database of southern African science as part of its centenary celebrations during 2002.


Aims of the project
  • To commemorate persons who participated in scientific endeavours in southern Africa by compiling their biographies and including these in an electronic database.
  • To foster cooperation between southern African scientists and scientific organizations, in line with the objectives of S2A3, by eliciting their participation in a project that encompasses all scientific disciplines.
  • To make available information about southern African science and its practitioners to all interested persons via the internet, as a public service.

Persons included

Inclusion criteria may differ somewhat between scientific disciplines or between earlier and later historical periods and are applied flexibly. The following criteria guide, rather than restrict the growth of the database.

  • The main criterion for inclusion is that a person should have made a recognisable contribution to the scientific knowledge of his or her time and that the scientific activities should either have taken place at least partly in southern Africa, or should have been published here.
  • For the purpose of this project, "science" includes the mathematical, physical, earth, and biological sciences; physical geography, geographical exploration, cartography, archaeology and physical anthropology; indigenous knowledge of nature; and original work or developmentally important contributions to engineering, agriculture, the medical sciences, surveying, and veterinary science.
  • "Southern Africa" includes contemporary South Africa and the states and colonies that came to be included in it, as well as countries sharing a common border with South Africa.
  • The time period covered extends as far into the past as individual scientific contributions in the region can be recognised.

These guidelines are expected to lead to the inclusion of at least 4000 persons who were active before World War II.


Information per person

The length of entries varies between a sentence or two and about 2000 words, plus a list of sources consulted. The biographies focus on a person's role in southern African science and are written specifically for this project. The name of the author appears at the end of each biography to give recognition and facilitate the editorial process. A passport type black and white photo is included, if available.


We need your help

If you are interested in any aspect of this project, or are in possession of biographical information that might be included in the database, please contact us. The project leader, Prof. C. Plug, has written up most of the pre-1910 candidates, but more participation by others is required to extend the database to persons who became scientifically active after 1910. Ideally the project should be ongoing.