From the Ground Up…

Dr Nathan Geffen is the new director of the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication at SU.

The editor and publisher of GroundUp, Dr Nathan Geffen, has been appointed the new director of the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication (Censcom) in the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University.

Dr Geffen will succeed
the founding director of Censcom, Professor George Claassen, who will remain actively involved with the affairs of the centre.

“I can think of no one better qualified to advance the aims of Censcom than Nathan,” said Professor Claasen.

“My own involvement will be to continue to play a part in the organisation of the regular science meets the media in Stellenbosch workshops and conferences to counter pseudoscience and quackery.”

Dr Geffen said that it is an honour to be taking the helm of an institution that has steadfastly promoted accurate and responsible science reporting, especially about medicine, and thanked Professor Claassen for founding and directing Censcom.

“In the age of human-caused global warming it is imperative that most news sites report environmental science accurately and frequently. This, as I see it, is the key focus of Censcom’s work, along with ensuring accurate medical reporting,” he said.

Dr Geffen established GroundUp, a news agency that specialises in reporting human rights stories, in 2012.

Dr Geffen was alternatively the national manager, editor and treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) from 2000 to 2013, the organisation credited with changing the South African government’s policy on HIV treatment.

He has extensively, over years, campaigned for the responsible communication of science and against quackery.

His book Debunking Delusions describes the TAC’s battle against AIDS denialism, a campaign he was intimately part
of.

Between his stint at the TAC and starting GroundUp, Dr Geffen started two websites:

TBOnline (www.tbonline.info), which communicates news on the TB epidemic and efforts to combat it. TBOnline is still active and has been taken over by a US-based organisation;

Quackdown (www.quackdown.info), which debunked quack claims about medicine. It is now dormant, but the site, which was popular for a time, still exists.

He has BSc and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town. He was was awarded his PhD in Computer Science from UCT in 2018.

Dr Geffen’s PhD dissertation examined the role of computer modelling in understanding the HIV epidemic and contributed algorithms for speeding up these models.