AfNWA-ISP 2023 awards recognise outstanding early career and senior women in astronomy in Africa

12 April 2024

The African Network for Women in Astronomy (AfNWA) is delighted to announce Dr Brenda Namumba as the winner of the “Prof. Carolina Ödman-Govender Early Career Award” and Prof. Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane as the winner of the “Senior Award” for Women in Astronomy in Africa. The nomination acknowledges Dr Namumba’s and Prof. Chennaoui Aoudjehane’s excellent contributions in science, efforts that advance representation of women in science at different stages of their lives, as well as mentoring the next cohort of African astronomers in particular women. AfNWA and ISP are delighted to give these prestigious awards to two women who embody the mission and values of their associations.

The winners are awarded €1,500 each by the African Network of Women in Astronomy, a committee of the African Astronomical Society, and by the International Science Programme (ISP) of Uppsala University in Sweden. The winners will give a talk about their research and advocacy work at the annual conference of the African Astronomical Society in April 2023 in Morocco.

AfNWA-ISP Prof. Carolina Ödman-Govender Early-Career Award: Dr Brenda Namumba, South Africa

Dr Brenda Namumba is the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Astrophysics in Zambia. Dr Namumba is currently an SKA postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), studying the evolution of nearby galaxies using SKA precursor telescopes at radio wavelengths. She has been involved in numerous research projects and has many publications in high-impact factor journals. She has successfully led MeerKAT observing proposals and is part of the MHONGOOSE survey team, which is one of the eight large MeerKAT survey projects. 

She has collaborated with numerous international institutes, including the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucía and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands. Furthermore, she has presented her results at various international conferences.

Dr. Namumba plays an active role in numerous initiatives aimed at encouraging more young people, especially women, to pursue science, both in her home country of Zambia and beyond. She spends time mentoring young girls who want to pursue STEM-related careers as part of Project Kuongoza (which empowers women and girls across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa). She is also consistently involved in giving presentations on science outreach and engagement.

Dr. Namumba has received multiple international awards for her consistent and impressive achievements. These include the L’Oréal Women in Science award in 2022 and the Science by Women “Women for Africa” award in 2021, as well as numerous fellowships and grants.

AfNWA-ISP Senior Award for Women in Astronomy in Africa: Prof. Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane, Morocco

Prof. Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane is a senior Moroccan scientist in the fields of meteorites, planetary sciences and geochemistry. She is Professor at the Hassan II University of Casablanca Faculty of Science Ain Chock, former Director of the GAIA Laboratory and Coordinator of the Centre for Research on Geo-resources and Environment. She is considered to be the first woman graduate in meteorites in Morocco and the Arab countries. Her first PhD was obtained on the geochemistry of noble gazes at the University Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris in 1992. Prof. Chennaoui Aoudjehane obtained another PhD in 2007 in meteorites geochemistry from the Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco. 

Prof. Chennaoui Aoudjehane introduced and developed meteoritical and planetary sciences in Morocco since 2001. She is the main founder of the ATTARIK Foundation for Meteoritical and Planetary Sciences and is also the founder of the exhibit museum “Meteorites: Messengers of the Sky”. She supervised numerous PhD students in Morocco. She played a significant role in studying and classifying many meteorites in Morocco especially observed falls. She has organised numerous scientific meetings, including the 77th meeting of the Meteoritical Society, held in September 2014, which was the first to be organised in an Arab and Muslim country.

She has received several awards for her research, was elected member of the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society in 2005 (two terms), and member of the Council of the Meteoritical Society in 2010.


Notes to the editors:

African Network of Women in Astronomy (AfNWA)

AfNWA was set up in 2020 to connect and support women in astronomy across the African continent. It forms part of the African Astronomical Society, the professional society of astronomers in Africa. Astronomy is a growing field on the continent with new telescopes being built and producing innovative world-class science, such as the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa.


Prof. Somaya Saad, 

Prof. Mirjana Povic,

African Astronomical Society (AfAS)

The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) is the primary organisation representing professional astronomers from across the African continent and is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation in South Africa AfAS is based in Cape Town on the campus of the South African Astronomical Observatory.

Contact: Dr. Charles Takalana, 

International Science Programme

Uppsala University established the International Science Programme (ISP) in 1961. ISP has earned international recognition for effectively strengthening research and postgraduate education capacity in low income countries in the basic sciences chemistry, mathematics and physics.

Contact: Prof. Carla Puglia,

Photos: Supplied

The AfNWA-ISP 2023 Awards for Women in Astronomy in Africa (April 2024). Dr. Brenda Namumba, recipient of the Prof. Carolina Ödman-Govender Early-Career Award  (left), and Prof. Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane, recipient of the Senior Award (right).