Two SKA SA bursary funded students selected to participate in the first exchange Australian vacation work programme.

2 December 2016

Two SKA SA bursary funded students, Tokiso Motoai and Katherine James, have been selected to participate in the first exchange Australian vacation work programme, the CSIRO/SKA SA Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship.

Motoai and James, who have been selected by the Human Capital Development Programme for the exchange, depart on Friday, 2 December 2016 to start the programme. It runs from Monday, 5 December 2016 until Friday, 17 February 2017 at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) Headquarters in Sydney.

Motoai, a BSc Honours student in Astrophysics at University of the Free State, will be working on a research project titled Parkes and MeerKAT synergies for pulsar observing, while James, a BSc Honours student in Physics at Rhodes University, will work on Using Machine Learning to get science from the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

“I never dreamed that I would be selected for this scholarship. I am so grateful to the CSIRO and SKA SA for the opportunity. I am going to pick up some fantastic skills as I will be doing a machine learning project under Professor Ray Norris to cross identify radio sources (from images obtained by the ASKAP telescope in Australia). I will also get the chance to network and meet many like minded people,” says James.

“I have also never lived outside of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape for longer than five consecutive weeks, so this will be a chance for me to experience living somewhere else. I am very excited to see what Australia is like and I think I will grow a lot as a person. This programme will have a huge impact on my life and will help to guide me as to which research topic I should investigate when I do my Master’s degree,” she continues.

Motoai expresses his excitement: “I am excited about taking part in the workshop as pulsar observing for gravitational wave detection is a field that I am quite interested in. I am looking to both learning in a working environment and exploring Sydney,” he says.

While on the exchange programme, James and Motoai will participate in activities with the regular CASS Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Program students. The programmes run concurrently so that all the students can meet, network and work alongside each other.

The programme includes a series of background talks about astrophysics, radio astronomy techniques and engineering. They will also visit the Australia Telescope Compact Array in Narribri for a hands-on observing experience.

On Thursday, 9 February 2017, they will present about their research projects at the Student Symposium.

Read the Herald article

Tokiso Motoai

Katherine James


Lorenzo Raynard
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