The OAD Team

There are currently three full time staff members on the OAD team:

kg_officialKevin Govender: Director
Kevin began work at the OAD on 1st March 2011 as its first Director. He has extensive experience in using astronomy for development during his previous position as the Manager of the SALT Collateral Benefits Programme at the South African Astronomical Observatory. He also chaired the Developing Astronomy Globally Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) and was involved in the development of the IAU Strategic Plan.
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 460 9350
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 487 8466
Skype: kevindran | Twitter: @govender


Nuhaah SolomonNuhaah Solomon: Administration Officer

Nuhaah joined the OAD on 6th June 2011 to coordinate the administrative aspects of the office. She brings vast experience of working in administrative and events management roles in some of the most fast paced environments in the corporate world. Her previous roles include project management, stakeholder relations and coordinating international meetings and events.
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 460 6297


ELi GrantEli Grant: International Project Co-Ordinator

Eli has been with the OAD since February 2015. Eli specialises in social intervention evaluation and has spent over ten years working on the design, evaluation and delivery of interventions in the fields of development, forced migration, criminal justice, education, substance misuse, gender equity and sexual violence. She is a fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy. Her PhD research at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, focused on the use of network analysis in social policy impact evaluations.


Current Interns/Fellows

Ramasamy Venugopal_large formatRamasamy Venugopal

Ram is a visiting fellow from India who is working on various projects. He recently completed his MSc in space studies at the International Space University. An engineer by training, he has worked in software development at Verizon and telecom services configuration at Ericsson in India. At the OAD, he is developing, amongst other things, a project that will provide university and school students access to remotely operable telescopes.
witter: @ram_cosmo


Karabo Makola

karabo3Karabo joined the IAU-OAD team on the 3rd of May 2016 as an intern. She is an aspiring Communications officer/ Journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Limpopo with a B.A. Honours in Media Studies. In her undergraduate studies, she majored in Communication Studies and Media Studies with modules in public relations, marketing communications, corporate communications, strategic organisational communications, and journalism. Karabo is an avid reader and a lover of life. She is very passionate about journalism and aspires to be a world renowned journalist or communications officer using mass media for social development and social inclusion.
witter: @karabsm


Past Interns/Fellows

The OAD Internship Program aims to provide an opportunity for inspired motivated individuals to contribute meaningfully to the OAD objectives, providing them with unique international experience in using astronomy for development. Contact if you are interested.

IMG_7967Wanda Diaz-Merced

Wanda is an astrophysicist from Puerto Rico. She obtained her PhD from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She also spent time doing research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. A long time collaborator with the OAD, Wanda has worked on projects such as AstroSense and run workshops at the school for the blind in Cape Town. She is currently expanding on her work in improving Accessibility and encouraging greater inclusion in Science through her work in Astronomy.
November 2015 – January 2016

Silvia Verdolini OAD Visiting Fellow

Silvia Verdolini

Silvia is an astronomer from Italy. In February 2014 she completed her PhD in Astrophysics at Leiden University (The Netherlands). She is an experienced programmer and numerical modeler. Over the years, she has contributed and collaborated on a number of outreach events and children activities. At the OAD she will be involved in several of the international projects and activities of the OAD, with a focus on helping to develop an impact evaluation cycle for OAD-funded projects.
May – December 2015


Tibisay Sankatsing Nava

Tibisay is a science communicator from Aruba who works in astro-education and communication. She has a masters in Arts & Culture and in Science Communication from Leiden University. For the OAD, she spearheaded the development of a new communications strategy, among other things. Tibisay is also project manager at Universe Awareness, a global astronomy education programme for young children coordinated from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.
E-mail: /
Twitter: @tibisaysn
May – September 2015

Laure Catala
laureLaure is a PhD student from France, working on optical instrumentation for the Southern African Large Telescope, affiliated to both the University of Cape Town and the South African Astronomical Observatory. She is lead two projects at the OAD, the first one evaluating the impact of different outreach and education programs in collaboration with social scientists and education researchers and the second one aimed at developing an undergraduate astronomy course for historically black universities.  Email:

Rajin Ramphul
Rajin is a Mauritian student doing his PhD in Astrophysics at the South African Astronomical Observatory and with the University of Cape Town. He is working in the field of Galaxy formation and evolution. Rajin is enthusiastic about anything that deals with teaching science as well as for topics related to computing. He worked on a project to apply the skills of astronomical programming to other research domains and undergraduate students in Africa.

Eli Kasaieli_stonehenge
Eli is a PhD student in Astrophysics at University of Cape Town, affiliated to the South African Astronomical Observatory and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. From Namibia, Eli has a strong passion helping develop the study of Astronomy in places that lack knowledge in this field, especially in the Square Kilometer Array Africa partner countries where Human Capacity Development programs are a high priority. Email:

kodai_fukushimaKodai Fukushima

Kodai is pursuing his masters at Hosei University in Japan. He has been involved in research examining the impacts on society of astronomy. Two of the largest activities were held in Fukushima Prefecture, which was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and in Cambodia. He visited the OAD office in Cape Town to run trials for a service evaluation. The project, ‘One World Experiment’, is designed to evaluate the impact of Astronomy Outreach on ingroup bias and resource allocation.
Read his 2013 blog for the OAD ‘The Meaning of Astronomy for me‘.

RajeevRajeev Manick

Rajeev just completed his Masters in Astrophysics at the University of Cape Town, joint with the South African Astronomical Observatory. His area of research is mainly focused on stellar evolution and particularly Post-AGB stars; his upcoming PhD research interest. As part of his contribution to the OAD, he is working on a project aiming to enhance communication between young astronomers around the world and consultant astronomers who are willing to assist young scientists in their research.

Maya Barlevmaya
Maya has been collaborating with the OAD since early January 2013, specializing in astronomy education resource development. Currently, Maya is traveling the world engaging with how children learn about the Universe both in academic and non-academic contexts, as supported by the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Originally from the U.S., Maya hopes to apply what she learns at the OAD to solving problems of education inequality in her own country and worldwide. She holds a BSc in astrophysics from Haverford College, where she began her work in astronomy education and outreach. Email:

Read Maya Barlev’s open letter to the OAD, relating her experience at the office.

Physical Address:

The OAD is hosted by the South African Astronomical Observatory. Please direct all postal inquiries to:

IAU Office of Astronomy for Development,
South African Astronomical Observatory,
P.O. Box 9, Observatory, 7935,
South Africa