Call For Applications For The SAAO Prize Ph.D Scholarship

Call for applications for the SAAO Prize PhD Scholarship
The historic main building of the SAAO, built in 1820. Source: SAAO website

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) invites applications for the SAAO Prize PhD Scholarship from brilliant students who wish to pursue PhD studies in optical or multi-wavelength astrophysics. Applicants must be South Africans or citizens of other African countries who have, or are studying towards, an MSc degree in physics, astrophysics, or a closely related area, and must be ready to register for a PhD at the start of the 2020 academic year.

The programme on which the scholarship is based will hold at SAAO, and provides a stipend of R180,000 per year, as well as support for equipment and travel. The successful applicants will be expected to register at a South African university by the end of February 2020. Depending on their choice of project, the student may be free to choose a university or be required to register at the university of a co-supervisor.

The following projects are available in this round:

  • Mass Loss, Pulsation and Atmospheric Mixing in Intermediate Mass Stars.
    Supervisors: John Menzies (, Patricia Whitelock (SAAO and UCT;, and Albert Zijlstra (University of Manchester,
  • 3D Simulations of Stellar Interactions.
    Supervisor: Shazrene Mohamed (
  • Planetary and sub-stellar companions to Planetary nebulae and other post-AGB stars. Supervisors: Brent Miszalski ( and Rajeev Manick (
  • Transients in the LSST Era.
    Supervisors: David Buckley (, Patrick Woudt (UCT,, and Brian van Soelen (UFS;
  • Vertical structure evolution of spiral galaxy disks using optical and near-infrared integral field spectroscopy.
    Supervisor: Matt Bershady (
  • Design, development and commissioning of a fibre slit-mask integral-field unit for SALT prime-focus spectrograph.
    Supervisor: Matt Bershady (
  • Applicants are encouraged to contact the potential supervisors before applying, in order to find out more about these projects, although they do not need to choose a project at this stage. To apply, send a motivation letter, CV, and academic transcripts to, and arrange for two reference letters to be sent to the same address, by 31 July 2019.

For more information, including project descriptions and an application guide, please visit the SAAO scholarship page.

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