WAISSYA alumni are our greatest indicators of success and are reaching for the stars across the continent and around the world. For the next few weeks, we are excited to share profiles about some of our alumni. Please join us in this journey.

Adaeze Ibik

posted Mar 13, 2019, 2:06 PM by Margaret Ikape   [ updated Mar 15, 2019, 2:52 PM ]

Adaeze is an alumna of the 2013 and 2015 WAISSYA program.  Her passion for astronomy was sparked as a third year student at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.  She knew she liked chemistry and physics and hadn’t really thought about astronomy until she took an introductory course her third year.  This course inspired her to join the amateur astronomy club.  This club grew her interest in observing in the universe and an interest in outreach.  In subsequent years, she has initiated outreach events to high schools and colleges and partnered with scientists so other students can be aware of astronomy as a field earlier than she discovered it for herself.

Adaeze attended WAISSYA for the first time right after finishing undergraduate degree.  She loved the inquiry mode of teaching and it’s something she integrates in her teaching methods in her current role teaching college physics and in outreach events.  She explains, “Inquiry makes you think.  As you are thinking, you are learning.  Before you know it, you can do it”.  She laughs and adds, “The teaching at WAISSYA made us look like good scientists and we felt like we could do it.  That was cool”.

She said the friends and mentors she made at WAISSYA helped influence her decision to pursue a master’s in astrophysics at the University of Nigeria.  She is currently waiting to defend her thesis on pulsars as she applies to doctoral programs at prestigious universities, which have access to observational telescopes.  She says that applying to programs and looking for jobs at academia can be a long and difficult journey.  However, people she met at WAISSYA have provided a strong support network to bounce ideas off of, assist with applications and help her stay motivated.  She believes that “what belongs to you will come to you at the right time. So be patient, keep trying and keep pushing”.  WAISSYA is an example of a great program, which led to other international opportunities like attending the 39th International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2017 and the Dunlap Institute Summer School on Astronomical Instrumentation at University of Toronto, Canada in 2018.  In the meantime, she shares her passion for astronomy and physics with her students at Pathfinder College, Ibadan and Queen of the Rosary secondary School, Nsukka, Nigeria.


                                                                                                                                                    Written by Kathleen Foote.


Andrews Mawuki Dzodzomenyo

posted Mar 13, 2019, 2:05 PM by Margaret Ikape   [ updated Mar 15, 2019, 2:45 PM ]

Andrews Mawuli Dzodzomenyo is a graduate of the 2017 WAISSYA postgraduate program.  He describes his participation in the program as “inevitable” because he was working for the hosting organization (Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute) at the time as a trainee radio telescope operator. This meant his time at the WAISSYA was especially busy; he coordinated the telescope observations and participated in the program activities.  Despite having a full schedule, he remembers WAISSYA as an enjoyable and exciting week.  He describes, “Working at an observatory can get lonely at times due to its isolation, so it was fun to have so many people over, especially because they were interested in astronomy”.  He appreciated that WAISSYA attracted people from different fields who were united by a shared interest in astronomy.  This helped Andrews meet people outside the small astronomy circle in Ghana and made the program more interesting.

Andrews has always had an interest in astronomy from a young age and is excited that opportunities in astronomy in Ghana have been growing since 2011.  He majored in geological engineering as an undergraduate because there were no formal courses in astronomy.  He always followed the news looking for information on scientific discoveries in the greater universe.  After undergraduate, he decided to visit a privately funded planetarium because he was “lonely with his thoughts” and “wanted to find someone to talk about the universe”.  He began to visit on a regular basis, learned about a certificate program in radio astronomy.  He took the certificate program and selected for a small cohort to be trained to operate the Ghana Radio Astronomy Telescope.  He found this position incredibly fulfilling and fascinating because he felt he was surrounded by unanswered questions about the universe and our existence. 

Since then, Andrews has traveled the world and found opportunities to stay connected to his passion in astronomy.  He volunteered in the education department at the Rajiv Ghandi Science Center in Port Louis, Mauritius.  He helped develop exhibits for Astronomy education and helped with outreach events where he assisted with sky watching events with optical telescopes at community centers in the Hinterlands.

Andrews is currently in Germany and is busy learning a new language but stays connected to Astronomy through listserves and scientific news.  He looks forward to returning to Ghana to increase knowledge and interest in astronomy, since the Square Kilometre Array is world’s most sensitive telescope in South Africa.”

For anyone considering WAISSYA, Andrews recommends and tells anyone in the postgraduate stream, expect to work hard and be pushed.  WAISSYA helped him improve his coding skills in Python, introduced him to Matlab and he gained more experience working with Linux systems. WAISSYA provides the very rare opportunity for an individual from any STEM field access to a telescope and to operate it, and he encourages applicants to take advantage.

                                                                                                                                                 Written by Kathleen Foote.



posted Mar 6, 2019, 8:04 PM by Margaret Ikape   [ updated Mar 15, 2019, 2:49 PM ]

Herman AKAGLA was curious about the universe from a very young age and in high school, he decided to pursue the path of studying physics.   His teacher and classmates noticed his aptitude for science and jokingly called him the class “physicist”.  Herman was the first son in his family to go to school and decided to use his love and skill for the subject to pursue a bachelor's in physics from the University of Lome in Togo, where he is from.

After finishing his bachelors, Herman started teaching high school physics while seeking opportunities to learn more.  He pursued a master's degree in mathematical sciences at African Institute for Mathematical Sciences-Ghana and that’s when a classmate told him about WAISSYA. They applied and attended the 2017 postgraduate stream together.  Herman’s favourite part of WAISSYA experience was working on the Ghanaian radio telescope. His group,  “the Andromeda PG” collected the data of the Centaurus A galaxy using the Ghanaian radio telescope, processed this data using the Python programming and generated the mosaic map of the galaxy. 

 After the summer school, Herman went back to high school teaching where WAISSYA’s interactive teaching style influenced the way he interacted with his students.  Whenever possible, Herman tried to do experiments and demonstrations to engage and motivate his students to learn more theoretical topics.

While teaching, Herman looked for other opportunities to increase his own engagement and impact with science.  He was the only Togolese who attended the SGAC (Space Generation Advisory Council) Workshop in Nigeria.  Here, he met a lot of people who encouraged him to do outreach back in Togo.  He started a science club at his school that meets midday and students can specialize in topics like astronomy or electronics.  These students made videos about how science relates to every day life and are shared online.

Herman was appointed the first NPOC (National Point of Contact) of the SGAC in Togo and has continued to get his students involved in organizing events for the country.  For example, on April 12, 2018, he organized the first Yuri day (International Day of Human Space Flight) in Togo. With his students, he made video projections on the first space flight made by Yuri Gagarin, and presented on the importance of space science, applications in human life and opportunities to engage with astronomy in Africa (like the Square Kilometre Array in South Africa).  His contributions were acknowledged by the SGAC who granted him the African Leadership Award and has continued to travel the world, including a visit to Namibia for the African School of Physics.

In October 2018, Herman moved to Dijon-France- enrolled in the International Master in Physics, Photonics, Nanotechnology at the University of Burgundy.   He has been awarded the Togolese government fellowship in order to research the “Applications of Nanotechnology in Space Science”.   Herman hopes to teach at the university one day and still keeps in contact with his students, some of whom have earned master’s degrees and still call him about physics exercises.

Herman encourages people considering WAISSYA or future study in the physical sciences to be very curious.  He also advices people to always share their knowledge because “when you share your knowledge with others, you learn more”.  Herman is a wonderful example of someone with insatiable curiosity, who always gives back through teaching and outreach.

                                                                                                                                        Written by Kathleen Foote.


WAISSYA 2019 Announced!

posted Feb 15, 2019, 2:02 PM by Thai Duy Cuong Nguyen

The 4th Edition of the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers will be held in Abuja, Nigeria from 2019 October 28 through November 1.

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