Special Projects

In addition to the Annual Call for Proposals, the OAD undertakes (with the support of visiting experts, partners etc.) and coordinates Special Projects with specific focus that align with the strategic objectives of the office.

Science For Development: Building Bridges Across Disciplines

The OAD partnered with the International Science Council’s (ISC) Regional Office for Africa (ROA) to jointly host an interdisciplinary workshop on Science for Development. The idea behind this workshop is to bring together experts from both science and development fields, especially from across Africa, in an atmosphere where they can freely discuss and find common grounds regarding socio-economic development. Through this we hope to stimulate collaborations and partnerships between scientists and development experts or practitioners and generate ideas for interdisciplinary science-for-development projects.

Karoo Futures: Astronomy & Its Impacts

The OAD partnered with the DSI/NRF SARChI Research Chair in the Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University to host a symposium which marks the launch of the special issue ‘Karoo Futures: Astronomy in place and space’ of the Journal of Southern African Studies. Major themes addressed in the special issue include the relationship between space, place and time in the configuration of the Karoo as a major astronomy site; the role of the state; and the politics of knowledge, including how to understand the cultural artefacts produced by the study of the cosmos.


AstroSense started off as an OAD project led by Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced, a blind astrophysicist and computer scientist who develops software to analyze astronomical data through sound. It has evolved into a project involving research and tools on making science and astronomy more accessible to everyone. .

Data Science Toolkit

The toolkit aims to provide a foundation for a “common language” between data science and astronomy communities. The toolkit should help astronomers get a sense of the breadth of data science (as a field and in its applications) and to see where their skills and knowledge fit into this wider view; it should help data scientists and those in need of data scientists (e.g. companies, NGOs) see what astronomers can contribute.