Senior Researchers

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

 

Prof. Russ Taylor

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

 

Director
UCT/UWC

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

 

 

 

 

Prof. Rob Simmonds

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

 

 

 

 

Associate Director: New Technology Initiatives
UCT

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

Associate Prof. Michelle Cluver

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

Associate Director: Development & Outreach
UWC

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

Sarah Blyth is a senior lecturer at the UCT Department of Astronomy. She is one of the Principal Investigators of the upcoming LADUMA survey which will use the MeerKAT radio telescope to study the gas in galaxies back to when the universe was one third of its current age. This project will involve the deepest observations of neutral hydrogen in galaxies to date combined with cross-matching to other large datasets across the electromagnetic spectrum. Sarah plans to use IDIA to process and analyse this upcoming very large dataset to investigate the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.
Dr. Sarah Blyth

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

Sarah Blyth is a senior lecturer at the UCT Department of Astronomy. She is one of the Principal Investigators of the upcoming LADUMA survey which will use the MeerKAT radio telescope to study the gas in galaxies back to when the universe was one third of its current age. This project will involve the deepest observations of neutral hydrogen in galaxies to date combined with cross-matching to other large datasets across the electromagnetic spectrum. Sarah plans to use IDIA to process and analyse this upcoming very large dataset to investigate the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.
UCT

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

Asoc. Prof. Michelle Kuttel

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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.

UCT

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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. Roy Maartens

Management Committee
Senior Researchers

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).

UWC

Senior Researchers

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.

Prof. Claude Carignan

Senior Researchers

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.

UCT

Senior Researchers

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.

 

Prof Thomas Jarrett

Senior Researchers

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.

 

UCT

Senior Researchers

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.

Prof. Romeel Davé

Senior Researchers

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.

UWC

Senior Researchers

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.

Dr. Bradley Frank

Senior Researchers

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.

UCT

Senior Researchers

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. Renée Kraan-Korteweg

Senior Researchers

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.

UCT

Senior Researchers

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. Mario Santos

Senior Researchers

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.

UWC

Senior Researchers

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.

 
Prof. Patrick Woudt

Senior Researchers

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.

 
UCT
X