NWU professor appointed as chair of national astronomy body

Issued by
Johannesburg, May 26, 2015

An astrophysics professor at the NWU Mafikeng Campus, Prof Thebe Medupe, has been appointed chair of the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Consortium (NASSP). His appointment will take effect on 31 May 2015, ending 30 April 2019.

Prof Medupe will be a member of the NASSP Executive Steering Committee, which comprises three programme directors, namely Prof Kurt van der Heyden of University of Cape Town; Prof Adri Burger of NWU; and Prof Sunil Maharaj of UKZN, as well as a representative from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Yunus Manjoo.

The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme is a multi-institutional initiative aimed at producing MSc graduates in areas pertaining to astronomy, astrophysics and space science. NASSP positions itself as an HCD project, with two tiers of transformation as focal outcomes.

The first tier addresses the overall landscape by locating the contact teaching of coursework components of the honours' and MSc degrees at institutions (nodes) where there are presently concentrations of expertise, as well as where there is the necessary infrastructural support; thereafter, MSc and PhD students are encouraged to enrol at as many institutions as possible to facilitate the strengthening of research capacity across the country. The node for contact curriculum delivery has been UCT, but the need for expansion saw the addition of two additional nodes at UKZN and NWU (Potch), respectively.

Reacting to the news of his appointment, Prof Medupe said: "South African astronomy is going through an interesting development. The appointment is both a privilege and an honour, and I thank my colleagues in the astronomy of South Africa for putting their trust and confidence in me to lead the programme. This is exactly the kind of institution that will allow us to train people who will make use of the fantastic facilities that will be developed."