The European Astronomical Society virtual meeting EAS 2021 will hold a Special Session on 28 June – SS5 Data-intensive radio astronomy: bringing astrophysics to the exabyte era. It will feature UWC’s eResearch Director Mattia Vaccari, a member of the organising committee.
The session will cover the current status and challenges faced by radio astronomy in handling large data volumes, and technical solutions and applications within and outside astronomy.
The aim of the session is to bring together different communities (astrophysics, high-energy physics, research institutes, industry) to discuss current tools and ideas for the future development of data management. The meeting hopes to enhance the broader knowledge base through various approaches to tackling the challenges SKA radio telescopes are facing, now and in the future.
The topics that will be covered include Data-intensive radio astronomy, current facilities and challenges; Data science and the exa-scale era: technical solutions within astronomy; Data science and the exa-scale era: applications and challenges outside astronomy.
Scientific Organising Committee – Special Session 5 EAS2021
chair – Eleni Vardoulaki (TLS, Germany) co-chair – Marta Dembska (DLR, Germany) co-chair – Alexander Drabent (TLS, Germany)
The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) No 4 of 2013 came into force on 1 July 2020, and all public and private bodies that are processing personal information have until 1 July 2021 to ensure that they are compliant with the law. On 22 June 2020, President Ramaphosa made the announcement, which meant that organisations including universities have one year to become compliant.
POPIA is extremely relevant to all researchers as it applies to research activities that involve identifiable personal information of individuals or organisations. Considering the impact that research has on participants’ right to privacy is not just a POPIA obligation, it is also an integral part of research ethics.
Overall, POPIA is welcomed as it gives greater guidance to researchers regarding the use (and protection) of personal information for research purposes. This should serve to improve transparency, accountability and oversight in the processing of personal information, and promote public trust in the use of personal information in research contexts.
There is some uncertainty on the application of the POPIA relevant to research, and some members of the South African research community are seeking further guidance. ASSAf has engaged with scientists and other stakeholders around developing a POPIA Code of Conduct for Research to ensure certainty, transparency, and clarity in the processing of personal information for research purposes.
ASSAf is currently inviting the South African scientific community to send lists of issues regarding the processing of personal information for research purposes, or the governance thereof, that the Steering Committee should consider in the POPIA Code of Conduct for Research. In particular, they are looking to receive recommendations as to how the Drafting Committee could address the issues raised. Please send your inputs by 12 February 2021 to Ms Mmaphuthi Mashiachidi (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The SKA Observatory (SKAO) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy and was launched on 4 February following its first council meeting. SKAO is tasked with “building and operating the two largest and most complex radio telescope networks ever conceived to address fundamental questions about our universe”.
SKAO has headquarters in the UK, and sites in South Africa and Australia. It is the world’s second inter-governmental organisation that is solely dedicated to astronomy, and other members include Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. Observers include France, Germany, India, Spain and Sweden. SKAO will begin recruitment in Australia and South Africa in the next few months, working alongside local partners CSIRO and SARAO to supervise construction, which is expected to last eight years, with early science opportunities starting in the mid 2020s.
South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope, currently operated by SARAO (South African Radio Astronomy Observatory), will become part (and make up approximately 25%) of the SKA1-Mid telescope or Phase 1 of the SKA mid-frequency telescope.
MeerKAT, situated in the Karoo, consists of a 64 dish-shaped antennas. It is an SKA precursor or ‘pathfinder’ telescope, and is the most powerful radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. The MeerKAT antennas, each 13.5 metres in diameter and standing about four stories high, are distributed over 8 km and are connected by buried power lines and optical fibre connections to very fast computers in the underground Karoo Array Processor Building (KAPB) on the Losberg site.
Image: Nighttime composite image of the SKA combining all elements in South Africa and Australia. Credit: SKAO, ICRAR, SARAO / Acknowledgment: The GLEAM view of the centre of the Milky Way, in radio colour. Credit: Natasha Hurley-Walker (Curtin / ICRAR) and the GLEAM Team.
On 3 February, the TCC hosted a webinar titled Enhancing African Research Visibility Through Use of Repositories. UWC Library’s Mark Snyders was a panelist, and others included Jo Havemann of AfricArxiv, Mark Hahnel of Figshare and Stephanie Kitchen of African Digital Research Repositories.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 13.5% of the global population, but less than 1% of global research output, and part of this problem is that there is low visibility of its research output. Open access repositories are creating a paradigm shift in enhancing African research output. The panelists looked at how African researchers can make use of these repositories to increase their visibility, and where these repositories are, and how researchers can take advantage of them.
Astronomers from UWC are part of an international team responsible for the remarkable discovery of two giant radio galaxies. These galaxies were spotted in new radio maps of the sky created by the MeerKAT International Gigahertz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) survey. It is one of the largest survey projects underway with South Africa’s impressive MeerKAT radio telescope and serves as a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) due to become fully operational in the mid-2020s.
The discovery has made waves in the astronomical community around the world. Read articles from CNN, SciNews, Phys.org and Tech Times to find out more.
Image: The giant radio galaxy MGTC J095959.63+024608.6; in the background is the sky as seen in optical light; overlaid in red is the radio light from the giant radio galaxy, as seen by MeerKAT. Image credit: I. Heywood, University of Oxford / Rhodes University / South African Radio Astronomy Observatory / CC BY 4.0.
Sarah Schäfer is a Research Data Specialist and Digital Curator, and began working at UWC in 2020. She is based with eResearch and works very closely with the Research Support and Scholarly Communications team at the Library.
Her background is in digital cultural heritage, and her career in photography is what initially drew her to discover a research interest in digital cultural heritage. Her MPhil in Digital Curation focused on cultural heritage in the context of South African museums, and the digital transformation of museums and cultural heritage. She has an interest in digital archives, collections management and the intersection of the arts and computing.
Sarah loves that the realm of digital curation draws and benefits from knowledge in diverse areas, and involves more than cursory understandings of archiving and research data – it requires theoretical understanding and practical applications of various aspects, including Open Access, data repositories, data handling, media and formats, metadata and research data management.
Sarah is a founding member of the Network for Digital Humanities in Africa, and is a certified Carpentries Instructor.
The UWC eResearch Office, in collaboration with ICS and the Library is pleased to announce that UWC is now a partner in the REDCap Consortium, and UWC researchers can benefit from the broad range of data collection functionality that REDCap offers. At its most simple, REDCap is a web-based interface that empowers researchers to take control of their data collection work. Find out more about REDCap here.
REDCap is an application that was originally created in 2004 to support a small group of clinical researchers who needed a secure data collection tool (that met HIPAA compliance standards). The REDCap Consortium was launched in 2006, and today it is used as a secure method of flexible yet robust data collection by thousands of researchers at institutions around the world. REDCap is a neutral data collection platform, able to capture any type of data, for any purpose.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to work with the public and private sectors in the global response to COVID-19.
The International COVID-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges initiative, supported by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, are announcing an open funding call for research studies to accelerate knowledge of COVID-19 through data science: Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science. Register for an informational workshop to be held on January 7, 2021 (14:00 UTC), and the grant application deadline is January 19, 2021
Researchers can register for an informational workshop to be held on January 7, 2021 (14:00 UTC), and the grant application deadline is January 19, 2021.
“We invite you to read summaries of the grants awarded to date through Grand Challenges initiatives with the Gates Foundation as funder or co-funder and to explore an interactive world map of projects across the broader Grand Challenges funding partner network.If you have a great idea for one of the open opportunities, please apply. If you know someone else who has a great idea, please forward this message so they can apply and sign up on our Grand Challenges website for email updates with the latest opportunities. We look forward to receiving innovative ideas from around the world.”
To learn more about the foundation’s broader work and how COVID-19 is being addressed across the foundation, visit the foundation’s website and sign-up for The Optimist newsletter. See videos of the plenary sessions at the 2020 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, for the first time in virtual format and with a focus on addressing the current pandemic and using partnerships and lessons learned to speed progress across a broad range of global health and development goals.
The eResearch Office in collaboration with UWC Library Services hosted two webinars on RDM (research data management) on the 24th and 26 November 2020. The webinars, relevant to researchers, staff and postgraduate students, focused on developing data management plans (DMPs), and storing and sharing research data securely on UWC’s research data repository, Kikapu.
With the increasing global focus on the secure storage and sharing of research data, this topic is especially timely and relevant. Institutions and funders have made clear strides toward identifying where and how research data is stored and how access to it is managed. Moreover, good data management planning and the submission of a DMP has become a mandatory part of research and funding proposals. These webinars aimed to guide researchers in this context.
Participants were introduced to online tools that assist in planning these documents, as well as how to use and access their research data and make it available to other researchers. These include comprehensive templates of the elements that make up a DMP, and a guide on how to upload research data to UWC’s institutional repository, Kikapu, where data can be securely stored, shared and managed. Participants were also introduced to the FAIR Data Principles (that all research data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable). Kikapu also makes it possible to share data either privately with selected collaborators or publicly, and gives all data a DOI (a persistent digital object identifier), which is a convenient way to enable citation of one’s research data.
Watch recordings of the webinars:
For further assistance regarding RDM, please contact:
My name is Frederic Isingizwe, I am a research scientist and science communicator, most specifically within the area of modern computational methods to enable carrying out data-driven research efficiently. I have a special interest in the application of data science methods and artificial intelligence in any way that helps improve the quality and sustainability of life in the world.
My higher education span Physics, Mathematical Sciences and Electronic Engineering (MScEng and PhD). While a graduate candidate, I was involved in research on superconductor devices, applied spectroscopy and bio-systems modelling, managing a postgraduate research laboratory for biological sensors and nano-devices development. Upon completion, I assumed a role for technical advisory and research support for postgraduate students in sensors development and applications research projects.
Since then, I was a postdoctoral research fellow under the South African research chair in postharvest technology at Stellenbosch University. While there, I applied machine learning methods on spatial and multi-wavelength spectral data to advance non-destructive techniques for quality testing and control in postharvest production environments.
I have now joined the eResearch Office at UWC as an eResearch Scientist, and my comprehensive role is to help bring its mission to a success.