Thebe Rodney Medupe


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Prof. Thebe Rodney Medupe is a professor of Astronomy at the North-West University, South Africa. He obtained his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Cape Town in 2002 on the research area of stellar astrophysics with specialization in stellar pulsations. His PhD studies was a collaboration between UCT and the Danish university of Aarhus.  He has co-authored over 55 articles with co-authors from all around the world. His h-index is 15. He has experience in both observational and theoretical (numerical) modelling of pulsations in stars. He has successfully supervised 5 PhD and 6 MSc students and many Honours students at NASSP and at North-West University. He was a co-founding member of the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). From 2015 until 2018 he was the chairperson of the NASSP consortium. He pioneered the NASSP Winterschool as a vehicle of including South African students from universities that did not have astronomy research programmes into the astronomy community. The success of the Winterschool changed the face of astronomy in South Africa significantly. He has taught stellar structure both at Honours and MSc at the NASSP as well as at North West University in Mahikeng campus. Prof. Medupe founded astronomy research group at the Mahikeng campus in 2010, the group has been getting strong and now has 4 astronomers. He has supervised 5 postdoctoral fellows.

Prof. Medupe is also passionate about public outreach of astronomy, having been part of two African astronomy documentary movies, namely Cosmic Africa and the Scribes of Timbuktu. Cosmic Africa deals with African indigenous Astronomy. The Scribes of Astronomy looks at the astronomy content of the ancient manuscripts of Timnuktu in West Africa. The international success of Cosmic Africa has led to him being listed in Africa’s most influential people by the New African Magazine which is based in London in 2011 and 2014. Prof. Medupe was also invited to give public lecture on the subject of Cosmic Africa at the Royal Society events in London. He has written two children books titled “The Stars under the African Skies” and “Children of Stars”. He also has written a High School level book on “Astronomy during Timbuktu”. He has written chapters in books on the topic of history of African astronomy. Prof. Medupe also established and founded the Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory in 2015. The observatory was officially opened by the South African minister of Science and Technology in 2018. The main telescopes of this observatory are the 16inch Meade and the Planewave 20inch CDK20 with QSI 683 and SBIG Aluma AC4040 Cmos cameras. The observatory also has an echelle spectrograph with resolution R=10000. The observatory holds monthly open nights for the public and schools in the North West Province of South Africa.

Prof. Medupe’s leadership ability is shown by the fact that he is currently the deputy Dean for Community Engagement at the NWU since 2018. He has also been involved in the National Research Foundation (NRF) astronomy advisory Council and other panels. His experience and passion for Africa and history of Astronomy in Africa will be invaluable to the advancement of the African Astronomical Society.