When we asked Dr Tana Joseph, an outreach astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), during the August 2017 NRF Women’s Month celebrations which one of her academic achievements she was most proud of, she answered that she had just been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work in the US for several months. Little did she know that shortly after that, she would also receive a Newton Fellowship.
The latter will take her to Manchester in March 2018 for a duration of two years.
The Newton Fellowship, named after Sir Isaac Newton, is an international postdoctoral award that is intended for outstanding early career researchers from across the globe. Annually, only about 40 researchers are awarded this fellowship, making this a very sought after and prestigious award.
“I was very pleased and excited when I heard the news,” said Dr Joseph.
“I have been working hard on my research and my efforts are being recognised, which is always very gratifying. I look forward to working more closely with my colleagues in Manchester. Being in the UK will also make it easier to work with other researchers in Europe and this will definitely be a big boost for my future work. I will also work towards assisting students in gaining international exposure during their studies by sharing the knowledge and experience I gain during my time in Manchester. I am also very grateful for the support I received from SAAO when I applied for the fellowship!”
Dr Joseph had decided at the age of 11 that she wanted to be an astronomer after she saw the Hubble Space Telescope images published in the Cape Times. She later went on to complete her undergraduate degree in Physics and MSc in Astronomy at the University of Cape Town and her PhD in High Energy Astrophysics at the University of Southampton in the UK.
She spends half of her time doing research into black holes and neutron stars in other galaxies. The rest of the time she answers emails from the public about astronomy-related topics; gives talks at schools, and she’s also the social media coordinator for the Observatory.
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is a National Research Facility managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF).