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Prof Ilani Loubser wins top astronomy prize

Prof Ilani Loubser of North-West University was awarded the Distinguished Young Women Scientist: Astronomy award at the 2018 South African Women in Science Awards (SAWiSA).

The prestigious event, hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) since 2003, recognises and rewards excellent work done by women scientists and researchers.

Prof Loubser is an associate professor at the Centre for Space Research and also the subject chair of physics at the NWU's campus in Potchefstroom.

Her research focuses on the formation and evolution of massive elliptical galaxies, with emphasis on the dominant galaxies in galaxy groups and clusters.

Her leading-edge observational studies, using telescopes such as the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the Gemini telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, led to her being awarded the 2017 Henri Chrétien Award for observational astronomy by the American Astronomical Society.

Prof Loubser is strongly committed to training the next generation of South African astronomers, and since 2010 has successfully mentored three postdoctoral fellows, graduated two doctoral and six master's students, and supervised eight honours projects, all at the NWU's Centre for Space Research.

Her current research projects put a strong emphasis on using and training students for South African research facilities, including the SALT and other Sutherland-based telescopes, the MeerKAT radio telescope, and ultimately the Square Kilometre Array.

Source: North-West University

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