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Postgraduate bursary opportunities at the Wits CfA in 2024



We have a number of fully funded projects available starting in 2024 covering a broad range of themes, from galaxy evolution and cosmology to high-energy black hole astrophysics, as well as cutting-edge algorithms for radio interferometric data processing and analysis, including machine learning applications.


The value of a full cost of study bursary is fixed to the approved NRF/SARAO 2024 levels of R196,196 per annum for a PhD, and R189,158 per annum for a MSc adjusted for inflation every year. In addition, there is extensive support for equipment and international travel, which we strongly encourage our postgraduates to pursue.

Applicants should contact prospective supervisors listed above as soon as possible ahead of the NRF deadline of 8 July 2023. Please include the following when you contact Wits CfA staff members:

  1. CV and all academic transcripts.

  2. Names of two potential referees, including contact details.


Projects available:

Prof Roger Deane (roger.deane@wits.ac.za)

Up to 1 x PhD and 1 x MSc bursary available within the SKA Chair in Radio Astronomy research group. Projects include galaxy evolution, strong gravitational lensing, binary supermassive black holes, neutral hydrogen in high-redshift galaxies, and exotic radio galaxy morphologies. These projects will use data already secured and in the case of a PhD, will be expanded on with new observations. The telescopes primarily used in the SKA Chair group are MeerKAT and SKA pathfinders, as well as cm-VLBI networks (VLBA, EVN, LBA) and the Event Horizon Telescope. Applicants with interests in advanced statistical methods, Bayesian inference, and/or machine learning, are also encouraged to apply.


Prof Matt Hilton (matt.hilton@wits.ac.za)

Up to 3 x PhD, 2 x MSc positions to work on MeerKAT observations of galaxy clusters, focusing mainly on follow-up of massive Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) selected clusters detected by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT). Potential projects include:

  • studies of the evolution of star-forming galaxies and AGNs in and around massive clusters out to z = 2;

  • constraining cluster merger timescales through the combination of MeerKAT and SALT observations;

  • investigating cluster magnetic fields using radio - X-ray and/or radio - SZ correlations of radio haloes seen in colliding galaxy clusters;

  • investigating the radio properties and environments of sources detected at 90/150/220 GHz by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope


Prof Athol Kemball (akemball@illinois.edu)

Up to 1 x PhD or 1 x MSc bursary available within the Wits Centre for Astrophysics. Possible project areas include the theory and practice of calibration and image formation in radio interferometry, masers and astrophysical magnetic fields, gravitational lenses and late-type evolved stars. Observational projects may include MeerKAT or VLBI data, combined with other telescopes and wavelengths as necessary. Special interest in high-performance computing, statistical methods, and simulation.


Other projects:

In addition to the above projects with pre-allocated funding, there are several projects available with other faculty members of the Wits Centre for Astrophysics, that can be applied for through the standard NRF application process. These range from gamma-ray binaries, dark matter detection with MeerKAT, giant radio galaxies, neutrino astrophysics, gravitational waves, algorithm development with next-generation radio interferometers, multi-wavelength observation and modelling of high-energy extragalactic sources. Contact Prof Nukri Komin (nukri.komin@wits.ac.za); Dr Geoff Beck (geoffrey.beck@wits.ac.za); and Dr Nceba Mhlahlo (nceba.mhlahlo@wits.ac.za); Prof Andrew Chen (Andrew.Chen@wits.ac.za), Dr Sphesihle Makhathini (sphesihle.makhathini@wits.ac.za) and see our Research and People pages for more detail.



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