01 November 2017 Volume :5 Issue :58

National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Attracts Applicants

National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme Attracts Applicants
National Astrophysics and Space Science staff and students speaking to prospective new applicants at a function on the Westville campus.

The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) at UKZN recently organised a function to attract new applicants to the programme’s honours and master’s degree courses.

About 20 prospective students attended a presentation on the Westville campus followed by a social braai at which they were able to interact with staff and current students in the programme. Students who attended were from the Disciplines of Physics and Mathematics at both third year and honours levels.

NASSP is a multi-institutional postgraduate programme training graduates in astronomy, astrophysics and space science with a node based in the School of Chemistry and Physics since last year.

This event, also attended by more than 30 staff and current students, created the opportunity for those interested to learn about the NASSP programme, which began successfully at the University of Cape Town  more than a decade ago, and has also been introduced at the North West University.

Funded by the Department of Science of Technology and the National Research Foundation, the programme is developing human capital in the South African scarce skills fields of astronomy, astrophysics and space science. Students in this programme are encouraged to enrol in institutions across the country to strengthen national research capacity.

The programme includes contact teaching through coursework components as well as research and will contribute to national programmes such as the Square Kilometre Array  and the South African National Space Agency  through its capacity-building skills development.

The UKZN node trained two honours students in 2016, and has three masters students and 11 Honours students enrolled this year. According to the Acting Director of the UKZN NASSP node, Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, the node had already received 50 expressions of interest in the programme. The NASSP is currently making selections for the 2018 cohort.

The value-adding programme is contributing considerably to strengthening the University’s space science and astrophysics teaching and research.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Sivakumar Venkataraman

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