Staff Members

Dr Michelle Cluver
I am a NRF Research Career Advancement Fellow working on galaxy evolution in (compact) groups, star formation in HI-massive disks, as well as probing the effects of large scale structure, particularly in the Zone of Avoidance. I am an active member of the GAMA and SAMI collaborations and am a core member of the WISE XSC Team. Obtaining my PhD from UCT in 2009, I have been a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Spitzer Science Center (Caltech) in Los Angeles, and held a Super Science Fellowship at the Australian Astronomical Observatory in Sydney.


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Prof. Mario Santos
Professor Mario Santos

My main area of research is Cosmology. In particular, I’m studying how the next generation of large radio telescopes, such as MeerKAT  in South Africa and the future SKA will be able to answer fundamental questions in Cosmology, from the nature of dark energy or the physics of the primordial Universe to the process of Reionization when the first stars and galaxies of the Universe were born.  This research involves both analytical models and large scale numerical simulations as well as a good understanding of the telescopes setup. The huge volumes of data that will be provided by these experiments also allow for unique and exciting ways to develop novel statistical analysis techniques.

Experiments in which I’m currently involved: MeerKAT, SKA, PAPER, LOFAR, ASKAP, APERTIF, EUCLID.

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Russ Taylor
Professor Russ Taylor

Professor Russ Taylor has extensive expertise in radio astronomy, in particular wide-field polarization, cosmic magnetism and Big Data, and has played a prominent role in the SKA project since its inception. He is interested in using MeerKAT to detect polarised signals from the low luminosity AGN and star forming galaxies as an initial step toward the SKA key science area of the evolution of cosmic magnetism.

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J C Holbrook
Associate Professor Jarita Holbrook

Jarita Holbrook is an Associate Professor of Physics and part of the Astronomy and Cosmology Group at the University of the Western Cape. Her doctorate focused on star formation is in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

She is a leader in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Astronomy. She has done much to promote the study of African Indigenous Astronomy. Her research includes studies of astrophysicists, media, and science communication, for more info click here.


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Romeel Davé
Professor Romeel Dave

I am a theorist who uses large-scale hydrodynamic simulations to understand how the observable Universe evolves from the Big Bang until today. Interests include: Galaxy Formation, Intergalactic Medium, Reionization, Chemical Evolution, Galactic Outflows and Cosmology.

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Chris Koen
Professor Chris Koen (Dept. of Statistics)

Observations of variable stars, and the application of statistical methods to problems in astronomy. I also teach courses in simulation, theoretical statistics and time series analysis.


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Dr Enrico Olivier

My main areas of research has been on the late stages of stellar structure and evolution, in particular Asymptotic Giant Branch stars, and stellar oscillations, both linear analysis and nonlinear simulation. I have also dabbled a bit in observational cosmology.


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Roy Maartens
Professor Roy Maartens (SKA Research Chair)

The SKA will look deeper into the Universe and further back in time than any other telescope before it. I hold an SKA Research Chair, and my research aims to use the power of the SKA pathfinders and the SKA to map the distribution of galaxies in the Universe. With these maps, we will be able to find out more about one of the biggest puzzles in modern physics – what is the nature of the Dark Energy that is forcing the Universe to expand faster and faster? Our model of the Universe is based on Einstein’s 1915 theory of General Relativity. This theory has been very successful in unlocking the secrets of the vast and ancient Universe. But perhaps Dark Energy does not exist – and instead, the acceleration of the Universe signals a breakdown of Einstein’s theory on very large scales? The SKA will give us the accuracy to test this possibility.


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Dave Kilkenny
Professor Dave Kilkenny

I am currently working to complete the Edinburgh-Cape blue object survey – a long-running
search for new very hot objects at high galactic latitudes  – these are typically evolved
subdwarf and white dwarf stars, cataclysmic variables and peculiar stars. I am also interested
in pulsations in hot subdwarf and white dwarf stars and am monitoring period changes in eclipsing
hot subdwarf binaries which are possibly due to planets orbiting the very close binary systems.


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SKA Visiting Professor Matt Jarvis

I am currently a Professor in astrophysics at  The University of Oxford. I am heavily involved in developing the science case for the next generation of radio telescopes such as the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) and the  Square Kilometer Array. I also lead one of the six public surveys to be conducted on the new VISTA near-infrared telescope.


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