Russ Taylor is the Director of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy.
He is a professor and SKA Research Chair at the University of Cape Town and the University of Western Cape.
Russ is the founding Executive Secretary of the International Square Kilometre Array Steering Committee, the founding chair of the International SKA Science Advisory Committee, the vice-chair of the International SKA Science & Engineering Committee, the co-chair of the SKA Cosmic Magnetism Science Working Group and a member of the International Board of the Preparatory Phase Program for the SKA and of the International Board of the SKA Organization.
He has published over 200 professional scientific articles and has edited five books.
His work through IDIA focuses on the development of techniques and data science solutions for major SKA programs.
Rob Simmonds is the Associate Director of New Technologies at IDIA. He is a professor at the UCT Department of Computer Science.
Before moving to South Africa, he spent more than ten years as Chief Technology Officer of WestGrid, which is part of the Compute Canada organization.
He was an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and the Research Manager for the Grid Research Centre at the University of Calgary. His PhD is in Mathematical Sciences and was obtained from the University of Bath in the UK. Rob leads IDIA technology initiatives including collaborations with ASTRON, CADC and SAP.
He also leads the Data Delivery Design for the SKA Science Data Processor collaboration.
Alan Christoffels is the director of the South African National Bioinformatics Institute and director of the Medical Research Council Bioinformatics Capacity Development Research Unit. In 2009, he became the NRF Research Chair in Bioinformatics and Public Health Genomics.
His bioinformatics laboratory studies host-pathogen interactions with a view to understand the regulatory networks that control immune responses to pathogen challenge. Machine learning approaches are being implemented in an attempt to identify novel protein-protein interactions that can be tested experimentally. These studies are complemented by next generation sequencing data that allows us to get a glimpse of the host and pathogenic genes that are triggered during an infection. In this regard, he has been developing methods to analyze this rich source of genomic and transcriptomic data.
Jan Eloff is the Deputy Dean of Research & Postgraduate studies: Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBIT) and a full professor in computer science at the University of Pretoria.
His research interest is in cyber-security and applied aspects of Big Data Science. He is an associate-editor of the Computers & Security journal and an editorial member for the international Computer Fraud & Security bulletin published by Elsevier.
He is an internationally recognised researcher and holds a B rating at the NRF.
Laurisha is working on improving the usability of visualisation software for astronomy. She makes use of User Centred Design methods and visualisation principles to create recommendations for usable and effective visualisation software. She is interested in addressing the design challenges of visualising the integration of different, large, astronomical data sets which are representing the same objects.
Michelle Kuttel is an associate professor at the UCT Department of Computer Science. Her cross-disciplinary research is in the area of Computational Science: primarily in the areas of Computational Astronomy (development of software and computational approaches to support research in Astronomy) and Computational Chemistry (specifically computational glycochemistry, with a current focus on modelling of vaccines). She uses a combination of highly compute-intensive algorithms accelerated with high-performance computing to analyze large volumes of data and innovative visualization methods to explore large and complex data sets.
Prof. Maartens is the SKA Research Chair at the University of Western Cape. He is a cosmologist who analyzes the large-scale structure of the universe to extract information about the universe and to develop tests of Dark Energy and of Einstein's General Relativity. MeerKAT and the SKA will allow Prof. Maartens and his fellow researchers to apply these ideas for the first time in the radio waveband. He was chair of the international SKA Cosmology Science Working Group (2013-2015) and a member of the SKA Science Review Panel (2014).
Prof. Bharuthram was the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Western Cape from 2008 to 2014. Upon his retirement in 2014 he was appointed Executive Special Projects in the Office of the Vice Chancellor.
He obtained his PhD in Theoretical Plasma Physics from the University of Natal in 1980. He has served tertiary education in South Africa for 47 years in several capacities - 29 years at the University of Durban-Westville from Laboratory Assistant to Head of the School of Physics, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor; as Director: Research at the M L Sultan Technikon (1998 – 2002) and the University of Natal/KwaZulu–Natal (2002 – 2005). The previous position he held was Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2006-07).
Prof Bharuthram has published more than 150 research articles in journals of international standing on fluctuation phenomena in laboratory, space and dusty plasmas, with an emphasis in recent years on space plasmas, in particular on fluctuations in the different regions of the earth’s magnetosphere.
He has served on several national panels for the NRF, Department of Science & Technology and the Department of Higher Education & Training.
Dr. van Sittert is a senior lecturer in the School of Physics and Chemical Sciences at North-West University. Her research interests are molecular modelling, organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis.
Mustafa Ali is an M.Sc. student at UCT with Prof. Rob Simmonds. He completed his Honors’ degree in Computer Science and Statistics at the university of Khartoum in 2012.
He is working on using in-memory database technology for managing visual analytics of radio astronomy data. He is interested in databases and data analysis.
Professor Stephanie Burton is the Vice-Principal responsible for research, postgraduate education, and international partnerships at the University of Pretoria. She holds an MSc in Organic Chemistry (1990) and a PhD in Biochemistry (1994) from Rhodes University.
Professor Burton has lectured in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Rhodes University, and then Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. In 2009, she was appointed Director of Postgraduate Studies, and leader of the Biocatalysis and Technical Biology Group, at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Her continuing research interests are in the field of applied biochemistry and biotechnology, and her field of specialization is biocatalysis – the production of valuable compounds such as antioxidants using biological reaction systems. She is an NRF B-rated researcher, and has published extensively in international peer-reviewed journals and books, and holds several patents. She has supervised over 30 postgraduate students and is on the Editorial Board of three international journals in her field.
Prof. Spanier is a researcher at the Centre for Space Research in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at North-West University. His research focusses on high-energy astropyhsics, kinetic plasma physics and numerical simulation.
My scientific career has focused on the formation and evolution of galaxies, both in the local universe and at earlier epochs, peering through the optical-infrared window to study the physical processes that govern the galaxies. As a recipient of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) in Astrophysics and Space Physics at the University of Cape Town (UCT), I have continued and expanded my research in extragalactic and large scale structure studies through leading a strong research team at UCT, SAAO, UWC and the SKA-SA. A major component of this work involves utilizing the Wide-Field Infrared Space Explorer (WISE) data archives to provide new and value-add ‘legacy’ galaxy catalogue and imaging atlas to the research community, which will be in full use during the upcoming SKA-era of deep and wide probes of the universe. This is where IDIA will used as a solution to our “big data” challenge – serving (and possibly curating) these large-volume data products for the international community of astronomers.
Anton le Roex is the Dean of Science at UCT, and has been a member of the academic staff of UCT since 1981.
He served as Head of the Department of Geological Sciences from 1991 through 2005. He served as Deputy Dean of the Science Faculty from 2001 to 2011 and has been Dean of Science since January 2011.
His research interests lie in the field of major and trace elements and isotope geochemistry, and petrogenesis and evolution, of oceanic volcanism at mid-ocean spreading ridges and ocean islands and seamounts; in oceanic mantle geochemistry and evolution; in the geochemical characteristics of sub-continental mantle and its role in alkaline magma formation; and in analytical geochemistry.
Prof. le Roex is a member of the Geochemical Society, American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of South Africa and the Royal Society of South Africa.
Prof. Theron is the Head of Department of Physics at the University of Pretoria. His research focusses on solid state physics and nuclear materials with specialisation in RBS and surface interactions.
Oarabile Hope Moloko is an Honours (Astrophysics) student at the University of Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree in Physics, Mathematics and Electronics at the North-West University (2013-2015) and joined the NASSP programme for Astronomy in 2016. He's passionate about the big data science world and is working currently working with Dr. Bradley Frank and Prof. Russ Taylor on a project that involves exploiting the concurrency in radio interferometric processing for Large Bandwidth/Field-of-view Radio surveys.
Prof. Thandi Mgwebi is the Director of Research and the Director of the South African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) at the University of the Western Cape.
Prior to her appointment at UWC, she was the Executive Director for Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence at the NRF. She obtained her degrees BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc and Higher Diploma in Education (HDE) at a young age. Her early research career included work as a postdoctoral fellow in the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) at UCT.
She serves in various capacities including the co-chair of the World Sustainability Forum 2017, special panelist for the DST’s Women in Science Initiative, long-standing member of the Advisory Board of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences and a member of the Advisory Board of the UNESCO Africa Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology.
Tumisang Tshikare is an Honours student (NASSP) at UCT studying under the supervision of Prof. Taylor and Dr. Frank. He completed his undergraduate degree at the North-West University Mafikeng Campus, majoring in Maths, Physics and Electronics. Throughout his undergraduate studies, he farmiliarised myself with the following programming languages, Assembly and C(for electronic microcontollers) and Gfortran.
His main interests are data science and data analysis. His current project is Source Finding and Characterisation of Radio Galaxies; the aim would be to evolve this into a machine learning algorythm to find and characterize radio sources
Frik van Niekerk is the Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Technology at the North-West University. He has a prestigious academic career - B.Sc. (with distinction, Physics, Maths & Applied Maths), postgraduate degrees in Applied Maths (with distinction) and Physics (with distinction) and has a D.Sc. in Reactor Science from PU for CHE.
Prof van Niekerk served in senior positions at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, Denel Aviation and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. From 1985 to 1988 he worked at the Gessellschaft Für Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) in München, Germany.
He is a member of the ASSAF and the SA Akademie, and serves as the Chairman of the Board/Director of several NWU Companies. He further serves as a member of several DHET, NRF, NACI and DST advisory/steering committees - which include the NACI Rapid-Response Advisory sub-committee on Energy and the Astronomy Advisory Council of South Africa.
Boeta Pretorius is the Chief Director of IT at the North-West University.
He has an M.Sc. in Computer Science, and serves on the senate and is a member of several committees, which include the Institutional Committee for Teaching and Learning, the Institutional Committee for Research and Innovation, the Steering Committee for Transformation of Teaching and Learning, Campus Extended Management Teams, Kuali Mobility Board and Executive Steering team of Kuali Student.
He is the Director of Open Collab. He has played a founding role in the African Research Cloud, and has made major contributions to the Student Technology Program, Sakai SA, SA Alfresco user group and several other Asaudit User Groups.
Danie Visser is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at UCT, and has been a Professor in the Faculty of Law at UCT since 1984. Prof. Visser holds degrees from the University of Pretoria (B.Iuris, LLB, LLD) and the University of Leiden in the Netherlands (D. Iuris - Doctorate in Law).
In 2013 he received an honorary doctorate (LLD) from the University of Edinburgh. As an active researcher, Prof. Visser held an NRF “A” rating (2008-2012). He has been a leading researcher in the law of unjustified enrichment, comparative law and legal history.
He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and of the World Academy of Arts and Science. He is an associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law and a Fellow of the University of Cape Town.
Prof. Visser has contributed (either as lead- or co-author) to over a 100 publications, and has been the co-editor of the South African Law Journal.
Prof. Carignan is the SKA SARChI chair at the University of Cape Town. He is also Emeritus professor at the Université de Montréal and adjunct professor at the Université de Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso.
His main research interest is the study of dark matter in spiral and dwarf irregular galaxies using HI synthesis and optical Fabry-Perot interferometry observations. This allows, by constructing mass models, to study the density distribution of dark matter in galaxies.
Recently, he has been working on HI observations obtained with KAT-7, the precursor of MeerKAT, the South African SKA pathfinder. He has also been involved in the development of large EMCCD detectors for photon counting applications.
Dr. Cluver is a NRF RCA Fellow at the University of the Western Cape. She obtained her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Cape Town in 2009. She researches the effect of the group environment on galaxy evolution, specifically its influence on the distribution of HI and star forming properties of the group galaxies. Aside from using MeerKAT to study intragroup HI, she is involved in several large surveys requiring innovative methods to exploit multiwavelength datasets. She hopes to expand visualisation techniques within IDIA by exploiting the 8K rendering capabilities of the upgraded digital dome of the Iziko Planetarium.
Prof Davé is the SARChI Chair at the University of Western Cape. He uses high-performance supercomputers to model the formation and evolution of galaxies and intergalactic gas from the Big Bang until today. Galaxies are exceptionally complex systems, hence such models must include the effects of cosmology and large-scale structure growth, accurate hydrodynamics, star formation, black holes, chemical evolution, feedback processes from supernovae and active nuclei, and in some cases radiation transport and magnetic fields.
Moreover, galaxies evolve in a cosmic ecosystem with their surrounding intergalactic gas, exchanging mass and energy in a way that crucially regulates their growth. Understanding the dynamical interplay between all these processes requires supercomputer simulations, through which we hope to elucidate the physics that shapes the objects that we observe through our telescopes across all wavebands from gamma rays to radio. Such simulations produce enormous volumes of data that must be stored, analysed, and disseminated in order to maximize their scientific value to the community. By combining simulations with advancing observations from MeerKAT and other telescopes, we hope to eventually to produce a true-to-life movie of the evolution of the observable Universe from the Big Bang until today.
Bradley Frank is the SKA Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, and is the Project Scientist of the ARC Astronomy Proof of Concept ARCADE.
Brad is also the South African Project Scientist for the IDIA/SKA-SA/ASTRON/IBM-Dome Pathfinder Science Regional Data Centre.
During his MSc, Brad worked on the configuration design of MeerKAT, and completed his PhD in 2013. He then did a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Dutch Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) during 2013-2015, where he worked on the design and implementation of the imaging pipeline for the APERTIF upgrade to WSRT.
He is a member of the MeerKAT large imaging survey projects; the co-chair of MIGHTEE-HI and the technical liaison for the MHONGOOSE project.
Prof. Kraan-Korteweg's research is focused on mapping the large-scale structures in the nearby Universe with special emphasis on unveiling the Zone of Avoidance through various multi-wavelengths approaches (optical, NIR, MIR, radio, X-ray) - including systematic whole-sky HI-surveys and peculiar velocity studies.
She is an active participant in various MeerKAT HI Large Survey Projects. In preparation for this, she is pursuing precursor projects, which involve testing galaxy extraction pipelines based on a large ZOA WSRT mosaic, and a to-be proposed MeerKAT early science project.
The latter has the goal to map the core of a optically hidden massive supercluster as science objective, and will function as a pilot project for assessing the reliability of galaxy extraction and parameterisation tool that the MeerKAT Laduma and Fornax HI Large Survey Projects will apply.
Prof. Santos is an associate professor at the University of Western Cape. His main focus is "radio-cosmology" - 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.
This involves large simulations where we need to take into account the signal, contaminants and the effects of the telescope itself. Moreover, it will require the application of demanding cleaning algorithms and calibration methods to huge data sets, something that is the realm of Big Data.
Prof. Woudt is the Head of the Astronomy Department at the University of Cape Town.
His research specialisation is the physics of accretion onto white dwarfs in mass-transferring close binaries. He pursues this research topic through (1) the study of rapid oscillations in cataclysmic variables, (2) the study of ultracompact helium-transferring binaries, and (3) optical and radio transient surveys.
He is an expert in high time-domain astrophysics of cataclysmic variables. He co-leads the MeerKAT large survey project ThunderKAT (radio transients) and the associated MeerLICHT project.
At IDIA, Prof. Woudt and fellow researchers will process the data stream from the MeerKAT Large Survey Project, ThunderKAT, over a range of time-scales (hours, days, weeks, months), as well as process data from the MeerLICHT telescope in real-time.
Dr. Chamandy is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rochester. His research: Magnetic fields exist almost everywhere in the universe, and play a crucial role in many astrophysical processes. The evolution of magnetic fields within galaxies over cosmic time is governed by magnetohydrodynamics. Dr. Chamandy and his fellow researchers are in the process of developing a hybrid scheme, wherein output from a semi-analytic galaxy evolution model (GALFORM), which in turn uses output from a cosmological dark matter simulation (MILLENIUM), is used as input for galactic dynamo mean-field simulations. These simulations solve a suitably simplified set of MHD equations to compute the magnetic field for each galaxy. Thus we hope to simulate the temporal and spatial evolution of the magnetic fields of >10^7 galaxies over cosmological timescales and volumes. The goal is to produce mock MeerKAT/SKA radio polarization data sets and images, which can then be compared with observations.
Angus Comrie is a visualisation developer at IDIA. He holds a PhD in nuclear physics from UCT and is currently developing systems to visualise astronomical data for SKA precursor large projects.
Verena is an administrator for the IDIA involved with community outreach and marketing. She provides administrative and logistical support to the IDIA team.
Verena is also a PhD student at the University of the Western Cape researching the population structure of west African jellyfish.
Dr. Randriamanakoto is a SKA research fellow at the University of Cape Town.
Her research interests include deep radio continuum surveys to probe faint polarized radio sources and to understand star formation and galaxy evolution in general. The project is part of the science commissioning phase of the large MeerKAT MIGHTEE survey.
Jon holds a SKA research fellowship jointly at UWC and UCT. He completed his PhD in observational cosmology through radio astronomy in 2007, in particular using radio-continuum studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background to search for clusters of galaxies using the so-called Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect.
He specializes in statistical (especially Bayesian) analyses of interferometric data, whether in radio maps or directly in the 'visibility' domain in which they are taken. He models the noise properties of the data, in order to extract the maximum amount of information possible.
Lauren uses simulations of the universe to trace light rays from far away objects to us in order to see how the magnetic fields along the way will change the polarisation of the light.
These simulations are massive and since she wants to look far back in space (and time), a large amount of computational resources are necessary for the project.
Sam is a PhD student at UCT, funded by the SKA SA project and under the supervision of Prof. Russ Taylor. His research seeks to explore large-scale magnetic fields in disk galaxies.
To this end he probes the properties of magnetic fields through wide-field radio polarimetry. This relies heavily on large data products of SKA precursors (early MeerKAT and KAT7) and complementary data from the Indian Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope.
He requires this type of datasets so to provide the coverage required to probe the polarization behavior across a wide frequency range. Similar studies in the past have had a narrow frequency coverage that limited application of the Fourier space transform (rotation measure synthesis) nature of the main tools used.
Lunga is working on classifying galaxies as well as estimating their redshifts. In order to do this, he evaluates large amounts of data from different multi-wavelength surveys in order to train algorithms which will be classifying unknown sources and estimating redshifts of hundreds of millions of radio sources.
This helps to paint a clearer picture regarding the history of our universe.
David is a Data Scientist at IDIA. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Calgary.
He is involved with the SKA’s Science Data Processing (SDP) work package, and is part of the DELIV team responsible for the dissemination of SKA data to regional centres around the world, which will allow data to be accessed by the scientist end users.
He also works on the data management and distribution tools for the CyberSKA portal.
Adrianna is a Software Developer at IDIA.
She works on the parallelisation of data analysis algorithms used in the CyberSKA astronomical image viewer, in order to scale them to handle the large data volumes that are expected with the SKA.
She has previously worked on the control and monitoring software component of the MeerKAT project, and is pursuing a Masters degree in Computer Science at UCT.
Nicky is the Executive Assistant to the Director and the Office Administrator at IDIA.
She has worked in tertiary education for over 10 years.
Nicky ensures the smooth running of the IDIA office.