S2A3 Medal winner, Ms Chevarra Hansraj.

Prestigious Award for Astrophysicist’s Masters Thesis

The thesis Ms Chevarra Hansraj presented for her master’s degree has been selected as the best in the area of Sciences and Applied Sciences at UKZN in 2018, winning her an award from the SA Association for the Advancement of Science. The Association presents only one such award – the S2A3 medal – to each university in South Africa every year.

Hansraj, whose father Professor Sudan Hansraj is a mathematician at UKZN, matriculated at Eden College in Durban with 8 As.

Her natural curiosity about the universe led her to UKZN which houses the world-class Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU).

Her passion for Astrophysics shone through during her studies which earned her Bachelor of Science and Honours degrees and her Masters in Applied Mathematics which she completed summa cum laude.

Hansraj is now registered for a PhD in Astrophysics focusing on Applied Mathematics.

On her achievement of the S2A3 medal, she said:  ‘I will continue to view it as a physical reminder that hard work always pays off. This encouragement will translate into me being motivated to keep giving of my best as a young researcher. Seeing my supervisors and family so happy for me is a great bonus.’

Hansraj plans to focus her research in relativistic astrophysics – the understanding of the fundamental mathematical structure of curved space time.

Hansraj thanked UKZN for providing a conducive environment to conduct research and also two of her supervisors, Professor Sunil Maharaj and Professor Rituparno Goswami, who provided valuable guidance, mentoring and encouragement throughout her studies.

‘I also thank the South African Association for the Advancement of Science for the initiative of rewarding young researchers, and my loving family for the support – their belief in me motivates me to give of my best every day.’

Said her father Professor Hansraj: ‘Chevarra is a motivated and focussed student. She has drawn considerable inspiration from her supervisors who are world-class in the field of general relativity and gravitation. With their continued guidance and direction I am confident she will be able to make a decided contribution to science. It is also pleasing that she has a commitment to teaching other students advanced topics.’

Words: Leena Rajpal

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal