Astrophysics Postgraduates Excel
UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) has produced three exceptional Relativists who graduated with postgraduate Science degrees.
They are Mr Didier Kileba Matondo, Dr Maombi Mkenyeleye and Dr Apratim Ganguly.
Relativists are Astrophysicists who study the nature and effects of gravity.
Kileba Matondo, who received his MSc degree in Applied Mathematics cum laude, plans to read for a PhD and thereafter engage in post-doctoral research. His research focused on the distribution of specific types of matter in outer space, a topic he chose because he found it ‘exciting to understand the behaviour of objects in space, the formation of stellar bodies, the evolution of the universe, and the nature of black holes’.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he initially found it challenging to integrate into his new environment but soon settled in. ‘My supervisors Professor Sunil Maharaj and Dr Rituparno Goswami, other staff members and fellow students provided a great deal of support,’ he said.
Mkenyeleye was awarded his PhD in Applied Mathematics based on his research on the collapse of stars, a subject which has interested him for a long time. ‘Studying this field has helped me understand that massive stars do undergo continual collapse under their own gravity, which may lead to either a naked singularity or a black hole - when the ultra-strong gravity regions are not visible to the external universe.’
Mkenyeleye, who was also supervised by Maharaj and Goswami, will continue to conduct research in this area while working as a Lecturer at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania, and later as a postdoctoral researcher.
Fellow PhD graduate in Applied Mathematics, Dr Apratim Ganguly, who is from India, has been offered the prestigious Claude Leon Postdoctoral Fellowship which he will take up at Rhodes University later this year. ‘This was a challenging journey but I received constant encouragement from my family and my supervisors, Professor Sunil Maharaj and Professor Subharthi Ray,’ said Ganguly.
‘It is wonderful to see three of our ACRU students - Apratim and Maombi with doctoral degrees, and Didier with a master’s degree - graduate at the same time on the Westville campus,’ said ACRU Director, Professor Sunil Maharaj. ‘They have produced excellent results in their studies reflecting their focus and commitment. We wish them all the best in their future research endeavours.’