RAS-OAD astro4dev grants

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Astro4Dev Mobility grants

Coordinated by the OAD in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)

Background:  This mobility funding has the goal of establishing or nurturing research, educational and/or development related collaborations between the United Kingdom (UK) and countries where astronomy research is not well established.

Who can apply?  Scientists, engineers or educators (including graduate students) either based in the UK, or who will travel to the UK or the EAS meeting in 2020.

Applications: Open

Deadline for applications:  1 March 2020

Applications: Complete the online form or contact vanessa@astro4dev.org

Terms (Please read before applying for funding):

  1. The visit should be preceded with detailed communication with a well established contact person in the destination country. This contact could be via a Regional Node of the OAD, or a personal contact. In either case the proposed visit should have a strategic rationale. The application process will be an iterative one, in which the OAD and the Regional Node (where applicable) will provide strategic guidance. Potential applicants should therefore contact the OAD early in the process (at least 8 weeks before proposed travel).
  2. A plan for the visit should be drawn up and submitted in consultation with the OAD, bearing in mind that the bulk of the preparatory work should be done by the applicant. The online application form contains details required for the plan.
  3. The plan should include discussion of options for continued collaboration after the RAS-OAD supported visit.
  4. For an expert visiting from the UK, the expert should interact closely with the hosting scientists/engineers/educators and their students, and should also deliver topical lectures and seminars that could be of broader interest at the host institution. Possible activities involving all three focus areas should be considered (i.e. areas of school level education; public understanding of science; university level education and research)
  5. For a visitor to the UK, a clear programme of wider participation in research, student supervision and public engagement should be presented.
  6. The duration of the visit should be a minimum of one week, but longer visits will be encouraged. Multiple visits to the same country will also be allowed, provided an application is made and approved for each visit.
  7. The cost of the visit will be shared by the RAS-OAD grant and the host institution. The grant will be provided primarily to cover the expenses for the visitor to travel to and from the host institution for the visit. The host institution will be required to cover local expenses and arrange accommodation for the visitor. In some special cases, where motivated, the grant may provide limited additional funds to supplement the provisions of the host institution.
  8. The maximum RAS-OAD grant contribution will generally be £1000. Additional support leveraged from other sources (agencies, foundations, etc) will also be acceptable and will be considered favourably in reviewing the applications.
  9. After the visit, the visitor and the host will be required to provide a report describing the activities of the visit, the impact on the research collaboration or project in general, specific outcomes, as well as recommendations regarding further actions.
  10. Selection will be based on the scientific and educational merits of the application and on the strategic impact of the visit to both the visitor and host.

Grant Recipients


Grant recipients are: 

1. Aishawnnya Sharma (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, India) visited Prof. Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen (University of Sheffield, UK) to work on a research project about waves in the solar corona. The work entailed comparing observations with simulations of magnetohydrodynamic waves and will pave the way for collaboration across these two groups in future, especially as IUCAA is the PI institute of the Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope to be launched aboard Aditya-L1.

2. Clara Marie Pennock (University of Keele, UK) will use the award on a visit to India, hosted by Annapurni Subramanian (Indian Institute of Astrophysics).. The project is titled “Machine learning for the masses. Astronomy for the young” and has both a research and educational component. The research work looked at extragalactic studies using India’s Astrosat/UVIT, while the educational component looked at both an introduction to the basics of machine learning and an art and astronomy outreach activity.

3. Tsolmon Renchin (National University of Mongolia) visited Edward Gomez (Cardiff University, UK) to work on developing a curriculum for postgraduate studies in astrophysics at the National University of Mongolia. She will also translate some of the key teaching and outreach resources in astronomy for use in Mongolia.

4. Dimitris Stamatellos (University of Central Lancashire, UK) was hosted by Le Mihn Tan (Tan Nguyen University, Vietnam) on a visit to Vietnam. The visit saw the initiation of final year undergraduate research projects in astronomy as well as a one week lecture series in astronomy. The aim of the collaboration was to stimulate interest in STEM careers, especially Astronomy, for students in Vietnam.

5. Sohan Jheeta (Science Communication Ltd, UK) was hosted on a visit to Kitwe,Zambia by Prospery Simpemba (Copperbelt University, Zambia). The aim of the visit was to make astronomy accessible to a wider audience through lectures to university, college and school students. This visit would also build on the interaction of Copperbelt University with various remotely operable telescopes.


1. Sarah Eve Roberts (Cardiff University, UK) will present a training workshop on AstroLab, an enquiry-based lab for science undergraduates, at the University of Zululand (hosted by Thulani Jili) in June 2018. This will involve demonstrations to physics students and lecturers from across sub-Saharan African in using robotic telescopes, such as the Las Cumbres Observatory.

2. Ikechukwu Obi (CBSS, Nigeria) will undertake a research visit to the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Obi will be hosted by Robert Beswick and Anita Richards and will learn techniques on data reduction of eMERLIN data from the LEMMINGS galaxy survey. It is hoped that this visit will be the catalyst for future strategic connections between the UK and Nigeria in radio astronomy.

3. Katherine Blundell (Oxford University, UK) participated in the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa’s symposium in Cape Town in March 2018, and was hosted by Case Rijsdijk. The aim of the visit was to stimulate collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers in light of the large sky surveys that will come online in the next decade. Prof. Blundell also interacted with school girls in Cape Town, where one of the Global Jet Watch telescopes is located.

4. Mikako Matsuura (Cardiff University, UK) will lecture at an astronomy boot camp for Vietnamese postgraduate students in July 2018, while also attending an international conference in Quy Nhon. She is hosted by Prof. Pham Ngoc Diep, who is working to grow astronomy as a discipline within Vietnam.

5. Alemiye Mamo Yacob (ESSTI, Ethiopia),  Edward Jurua (MUST, Uganda), Pheneas Nkundabakura (University of Rwanda),  Ann Njeri Ngendo (University of Nairobi, Kenya), Sohan Jheeta (Science Communication Ltd), Bonaventure Okere (CBSS & WA-ROAD, Nigeria) and Prospery Simpemba (SA-ROAD) were awarded travel grants to represent Africa Europe collaborations in a special session at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool, UK during April 2018. They were generously hosted by Dr Matt Darnley of Liverpool John Moore’s University. Existing collaborations ranged from science topics, such as research on the African VLBI to efforts in human capacity development in astronomy.