Members of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit who participated in a Square Kilometre Array postgraduate conference in Cape Town.

UKZN Delegates Deliver Impressive Presentations at SKA Conference

Students, postdoctoral researchers and staff from UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) delivered well-received presentations at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) postgraduate conference in Cape Town.

The SKA funds astronomy and engineering students and postdoctoral researchers who have a record of academic excellence and an interest in working on the project.

The conference – a platform for deserving students and postdoctoral researchers to display their research- was attended by a large number of professional South African and international astronomers.

UKZN’s delegation, the biggest university group in attendance, delivered excellent presentations which resulted in significant engagement with the audience. The event provided an opportunity for participants to share ideas and experiences involving the astronomy landscape and also led to discussions about future collaboration with local and international astronomers.

ACRU doctoral student Ms Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana delivered an excellent poster presentation on: Diffuse Radio Emission in ACTPol Clusters, which is the subject of her research. Sikhosana said the highlight of the conference for her was the question and answer session. ‘It was less formal, more interactive and people raised views on how to make the conference better, while we, as students, received constructive criticism from senior academics.’

ACRU masters student Mr Kabelo Kesebonye presented a poster on his work titled: Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Measurements at a Possible HIRAX Outrigger Site in Botswana. For Kesebonye the highlight of the conference was meeting other SKA postgraduate students and hearing about their projects. ‘I got to learn a lot about radio astronomy from just listening to people talk about their research,’ he said.

Kesebonye plans to read for a PhD in Astronomy so that he can further develop his instrumentation and research skills.

Said senior Astronomy lecturer at the ACRU Dr Matt Hilton: ‘The annual South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) bursary holders’ conference provides a valuable opportunity for our postgraduate students and postdocs to gain experience in delivering presentations. The range of work being done in South African radio astronomy is very impressive, including the engineering and science projects with MeerKAT. I was encouraged by the overall level of the presentations delivered by students and postdocs. The plenary talks organised by SARAO were also excellent.’

Words: Strini Rajgopaul