Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

The University of the Western Cape is a public university located in the Bellville suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. The University of the Western Cape has a history of creative struggle against oppression, discrimination and disadvantage. Among academic institutions it has been in the vanguard of South Africa's historic change, playing a distinctive academic role in helping to build an equitable and dynamic nation. UWC's key concerns with access, equity and quality in higher education arise from extensive practical engagement in helping the historically marginalised participate fully in the life of the nation. The university was established in 1960 by the South African government as a university for Coloured people only. Other universities near Cape Town are the University of Cape Town, and the Stellenbosch University . The establishing of UWC was a direct effect of the Extension of University Education Act, 1959. This law accomplished the segregation of higher education in South Africa. Coloured students were only allowed at a few non-white universities. In this period, other 'ethnical' universities, such as the University of Zululand and the University of the North, were founded as well. Since well before the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994, it has been an integrated and multiracial institution. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 10, 2017

Data-intensive research is changing the way African researchers can work and the impact they can have. It is also opening up new career paths in the field of data science. By increasing the volume of data that researchers can analyze and work with at any given time, data-intensive technology allows them to make bigger strides in less time in their chosen disciplines. Data scientists assist this process by providing the skills to help researchers and managers first analyze large volumes of data and then use that analysis to make effective decisions. Big data is already making a big difference in fields ranging from banking and social media to healthcare and astronomy. Data-intensive research, or big data technology, has come to Africa by way of the stars: the establishment of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) pointed to the need for the continent to be able to analyze the extremely high volumes of data to be generated by the network of telescope dishes that will ultimately be placed across remote regions of southern Africa. The SKA project is an internationally renowned effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope with more than a square kilometer of collecting area. It is one of the largest scientific endeavors in history and drives one of the world’s most significant big data challenges of the coming decade. Three South Africa-based universities involved in the SKA project—North-West University, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC)—established a partnership in 2015 to form the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDiA). IDiA is mobilizing researchers in fields such as astronomy, computer science, statistics and eResearch technologies to create data science capacity for leadership in SKA precursor projects such as MeerKAT, which is scheduled to achieve full operation in early 2018. MeerKAT marks the beginning of a radio big data revolution in Africa. It will be operated as a South African national facility for about five years before it is incorporated into the SKA dish array. The IDiA is also establishing a data-intensive research and training program to develop capacity on the continent to use the data that MeerKAT will deliver. On its own, radio astronomy data is raw; it requires analysis to provide the kinds of answers astronomers and astrophysicists are seeking about the origins of the cosmos. The astronomy project will also involve developing data systems and tools for analysis with multi-wavelength astronomy data. The SKA is a multinational project involving researchers and data scientists around the world. Thus, one of IDiA’s projects is to create a data platform that will allow remote teams to access the data: the African Research Cloud (ARC). IDiA will also develop and apply processing algorithms that allow for analysis of the data so that we can turn high volumes of information into knowledge we can apply and use. The ARC involves collaborators from around the world. Much of this work is also part of a collaboration with SKA partners in the Netherlands to establish an Advanced European Network of E-infrastructure for astronomy. The ARC is the first stage of a three-phase plan to address specific uses of data-intensive research. One such application is the African Research Cloud Astronomy Demonstration project (ARCADE), which will specifically serve MeerKAT teams. The MeerKAT large surveys will produce a terrifying deluge of data. Observations are expected to produce almost 100-terabytes worth of data each day — orders of magnitude more than the conventional volume from a radio telescope. This data will have to be transported, calibrated, imaged, processed and analysed by dozens of astronomers around the world. ARCADE, thus, focuses on two important aspects of scientific utility: data processing of radio data and large-scale scientific collaboration. A proof-of-concept approach is used: compact and incisive interventions are developed for well-defined technological problem statements. One such successful intervention involved a large-scale collaborative project, which used a second-year astronomical techniques class at UCT as a test-subject. The project focused on practical learning outcomes for the class of 50. Students had to perform a simple, yet challenging set of analyses on radio and optical images, which included inspection, statistical analyses, plotting and documentation. A cloud-based hub was created for the project and a beefy virtual machine was populated with state-of-the-art software tools that are the contemporary standards in open source big data initiatives. Students could log onto the ARC via a web browser in a computer lab during a supervised session, but they could also have completed the exercise anywhere in UCT, on their own laptops and mobile devices. This successful case study demonstrated the power of big data solutions and the advantages of cloud-based technologies, and resulted in two very important findings. First, the ARC and IDiA provide an unprecedented opportunity for training and collaboration in scientific analyses. The test-subject students were exposed to critical skills in mathematics, statistics and programming in an immersive and collaborative environment. They were at liberty to discuss, share and work on their projects in a safe and robust programming environment. This sort of intervention can be deployed at a larger scale, and can provide a training environment for anyone with an internet connection. Additionally, the students experienced a first glimpse of tools and techniques that will provide them with an advantage in their future careers in academic institutions or industry. Second, this cloud-based intervention showcased a lean, information technology (IT)-on-a-diet approach, while retaining a high-degree of technical flexibility. The virtual machine was designed and deployed in a matter of hours, and required only the interaction between a single technical specialist and the scientific researcher. Indeed, one of the aims of ARCADE is to deliver a framework that does not require an IT technical specialist, but is deployable using standard recipes and a few mouse-clicks. In this respect, we are drawing alongside commercial solutions that are available at a financial premium. Our studies will provide easily accessible solutions for smaller projects that can benefit from large-scale designs for well-defined science projects. A similar project in bioinformatics will help researchers who are investigating, for instance, the relationship between genetics and disease. Their work involves not only dealing with data in large volumes, but detecting relationships that are highly specialized in certain molecules. Big data analysis can do this kind of sifting and identifying work in a relatively short time. One such strategic project, based at UWC, will implement a platform for tuberculosis surveillance in Africa, to glean insights into the dynamics of tuberculosis infection. Such an approach can ultimately assist in rolling out cost-effective diagnostic technologies and health interventions. The pilot project involves researchers as far afield as Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, but the plan is to involve more countries once the pilot project is completed. A potential breakthrough in malaria medicine demonstrates the kind of difference big data computing can offer to African science. In 2012, researchers at UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) identified a molecule that showed great promise of not only becoming part of a single-dose cure for malaria but also possibly blocking transmission of the malaria parasite from person to person through mosquito bites. The first part of their work on this project, however, took place at Griffith University in Australia, where scientists with big data capacity screened an initial group of about 36,000 small molecules. When those compounds had been narrowed down to several hundreds, a team of scientists from H3D took over the project and further explored the antimalarial potential of the various chemotypes (or chemical classes). The candidate molecule is now in the clinical trial process, with a second next-generation back-up candidate also identified and expected to enter the same process in due course. Globally many small molecules have been screened in a similar manner, paving way for exploring new, potential medicines against malaria. This type of multinational cooperation is part of the modern research landscape around the world. With the development of big data capacity and the ARC, African science will be able to bring a more substantial contribution to such partnerships and influence new breakthroughs based on the data gleaned from projects such as the SKA. It is opening a new door of opportunity. Russell Taylor is the director of IDiA and Joint UCT/UWC/SKA chair. Bradley Frank is a lecturer at UWC and a senior researcher at IDiA. This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk. This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article. Sign up for the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief — the most important and interesting news from across the continent, in your inbox. Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief, our free daily newsletter with the world’s most important and interesting news. SpaceX is building the world’s most powerful rocket, and it is nearly ready to fly Good luck with finding American engineers for the drudgery at companies like Infosys and Cognizant

University of the Western Cape | Date: 2017-04-12

A metal hydride which is disposed in a metal hydride container which includes a mixture of powdered hydride forming material which is able to form hydride when interacting with gaseous hydrogen at pressure higher than the atmospheric pressure at the ambient temperature, and a binder which combines high thermal conductivity, plasticity and high porosity under hydrostatic pressure; and a plurality of heat conductive fins which are disposed in the inner space of a gas-tight containment of the metal hydride container filled with the mixture and have a firm thermal contact with the inner surface of the said space.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRASUPP-6-2014 | Award Amount: 2.04M | Year: 2015

B3Africa - Bridging Biobanking and Biomedical Research across Europe and Africa will dramatically improve and facilitate the development of better predictive, preventive and personalized healthcare worldwide. The rapidly evolving African biobanks are an invaluable resource: The African population has the greatest genomic diversity on the planet and represents an incredible resource of information to advance biomedical research. B3Africa aims to implement a cooperation platform and technical informatics framework for biobank integration between Africa and Europe. The collaboration harmonizes the ethical and legal framework, biobank data representation and bioinformatics pipelines for sharing data and knowledge among biobanks and allowing access for researchers from both continents. Main actors from the relevant initiatives including Human Heredity and Health in Africa project (H3Africa), European Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources research infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC) and LMIC Biobank and Cohort Network (BCNet) collaborate in B3Africa to address the following objectives: Defining an ethical and regulatory framework for biobank data sharing between Europe and Africa Defining data models for representing biobank and research data based on existing best practices, standards and ontologies Designing an informatics platform using existing open-source software (with eBioKit and BiBBox as essential modules) integrating workflows for biobank applications Implementation of an education and training system for information and capacity building Validating the B3Africa concept with existing biobanks from both continents B3Africa will provide the critical mass to maximise efficiency in biomedical research, supports defragmentation through integration and allows efficient leverage of existing biobanks and e-infrastructures in Europe and Africa. The technical informatics framework will be designed for easy upscaling and integration with other research infrastructures.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.2-01 | Award Amount: 13.29M | Year: 2012

The PharmaSea project focuses on obstacles in marine biodiscovery research, development and commercialization and brings together a broad interdisciplinary team of academic and industry researchers and specialists to address and overcome these. The partners are ideally placed to demonstrate how to widen the bottlenecks and increase the flow of ideas and products derived from the marine microbiome towards a greater number of successes in a larger number of application areas. Despite the tremendous potential of marine biodiscovery, exploitation, particularly at a commercial scale, has been hampered by a number of constraints. These relate to access (physical and legal), genetics of the organisms, compound isolation, structure elucidation, early reliable validation of biological activity and best mechanisms of flow-through into exploitation. PharmaSea will solve these chronic bottlenecks by developing essential actions beyond the state of the art and linking them with best practice and appropriate pragmatic approaches. The robust pipeline structure established within PharmaSea will process a wide genetic basis including marine microbial strain collections held by partners and new strain collections from extreme environments (deep, cold and hot vent habitats) to produce new products with desirable characteristics for development by the SME partners in three accessible market sectors, health (infection, inflammation, CNS diseases), personal care and nutrition. The global aim of PharmaSea is to produce two compounds at larger scale and advance them to pre-clinical evaluation. To address relevant challenges in marine biodiscovery related to policy and legal issues, PharmaSea will bring together practitioners, legal experts, policy advisors/makers and other stakeholders, focusing on the feasibility of harmonising, aligning and complementing current legal frameworks with recommendations and ready to use solutions tailored to marine biodiscovery.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2013.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 3.29M | Year: 2013

Understanding the evolution of galaxies across cosmic time is one of the great challenges of astrophysics. At the present day, galaxies found in different environments are very different from each other. To understand how this came to be we need to map a wide range of environments in the early Universe using telescopes that probe the different physical processes. Many astronomical facilities have thus been undertaking ambitious programmes to observe large areas of the distant Universe to study galaxy evolution and most of these complete in the next four years. Our project brings together key members of the various teams to combine these data homogenously. We will add new meta and physical data that is only possible once the data have been properly combined, but is essential to interpret them scientifically. ESAs Herschel mission has a unique place probing the obscured star-formation history (roughly 50 per cent of all star formation activity). The Herschel extra galactic surveys were a major goal of and accounted for around 10 per cent of the Herschel mission. Full exploitation of these data is complicated by the large beam size. The ancillary data and tools assembled by our project are necessary to fully capitalise on this fantastic resource and to enable astronomers in Europe (without Herschel experience) to exploit the data easily. As well as a census of galaxies with value-added data and tools to exploit the original telescope maps we will new characterisations of the environment: catalogues of galaxy clusters and 3D maps of the Universe. We will also provide a new framework an extended halo model to characterise the Universe and provide a benchmark for theorists. We thus intend to provide a vast resource for studying the distant Universe, similar to the SDSS for the nearby Universe as a lasting legacy of these major ground-based and space-based surveys.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: HCO-05-2014 | Award Amount: 3.34M | Year: 2015

Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and pre-diabetes contribute increasingly to the global burden of disease with the health systems struggling to effectively manage prevention and control. This necessitates contextually appropriate, policy relevant solutions with high scale-up potential. The study is built on a consortium experienced in implementation and cross-cultural translation of disease prevention and management. We aim to strengthen capacity for T2DM care including prevention in high-risk population, through proven strategies like task shifting to community health workers, and expanding care networks through community-based peer support groups. Methods: A phased, participatory approach with built-in on-going policy dialogue will be used for implementing and testing a complex intervention in three countries representing low-, middle- and high-income settings: rural Uganda, urban South Africa and vulnerable immigrant populations in urban Sweden. These actions will follow an iterative process with modifications and improvements within and between the stages of formative research to implementation and evaluation. The testing will be conducted with a controlled design in two arms, a facility-only strategy vs. a combined facility and community strategy evaluated in terms of health systems, disease-related and equity outcomes. Outcomes: The study has a strong social innovations component that will leverage existing networks and platforms, to empower patients, their families and communities through the self-management approach. It will embed research into policy and practice from the beginning; and enable cross-lessons from other chronic conditions and reciprocal learning. It will re-introduce the essential but missing community component still existing in low- and middle-income countries back to the health system of a high-income country in a contextually appropriate form, which is relevant for Europe in tackling T2DM and other chronic conditions.

Koen C.,University of the Western Cape
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2013

In this paper, a summary of optical time-series photometry of 125 ultracool dwarfs is given. The observing strategy was to monitor each object continuously for 2-3 h in order to ascertain whether itwas rapidly variable. Many of the targetswere observed atmultiple epochs, to follow up possible short time-scale variability, or to test for slow brightness changes on longer timescales. The 353 data sets obtained contain nearly 22 000 individual measurements. Optical (IC) magnitudes, accurate to roughly 0.1-0.2 mag, were derived for 21 objects for which there is no optical photometry in the literature. It is shown that photometry is affected by variable seeing in a large percentage of the time-series observations. Since this could give the appearance of variability intrinsic to the objects, magnitudes are modelled as functions of both time and seeing. Several ultracool dwarfs which had not been monitored before are variable, according to certain model-fitting criteria. A number of objects with multi-epoch observations appear to be variable on longer time-scales. Since testing for variability is far from being straightforward, the time-series data are made available so that interested readers can perform their own analyses. © 2012 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Koen C.,University of the Western Cape
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2014

1SWASP J234401.81-212229.1 may be one of a handful of contact binaries comprising two Mdwarfs. Modelling of the available observations is complicated by the fact that the radiation of the eclipsing system is dominated by a third star, a K dwarf. New photometry, presented in this paper, strengthens this interpretation of the data. The existence of such systems will have implications for the statistical distributions of masses in hierarchical multiple star systems. © 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Cousins B.,University of the Western Cape
Journal of Agrarian Change | Year: 2013

A key issue in debates on agrarian reform in South Africa is the potential for small-scale farming, in conjunction with redistributive land reform, to make a significant contribution to employment creation and poverty reduction. Two problems hinder these debates - the paucity of reliable data on small-scale agriculture, and lack of clarity on the meaning of terms such as 'smallholder' and 'small-scale farmer'. This paper applies class-analytic perspectives on social differentiation to critically examine these terms, and explores the prospects for 'accumulation from above and from below' through agrarian reform, drawing on wider debates within the Southern African region. It focuses in particular on smallholder irrigation schemes, potentially a key focus of policy, and presents research findings on production and marketing of fresh produce in one such scheme in Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal. Survey data show that farming households combine agriculture and various forms of off-farm labour, as is often the case throughout the region, and that accumulation in small-scale agriculture is constrained by a number of factors, including the inherited and largely untransformed agrarian class structure of South Africa. In this context, expanded access to land and water is a necessary but not sufficient condition for such accumulation; wider structural change is also required. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Kilkenny D.,University of the Western Cape
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

New timings of eclipses made between 2000 and 2010 are presented for two binary systems with hot subdwarf primary stars. In the case of AA Dor, an sdOB star with a very cool secondary, the period is found to be constant at a level of about 10-14d per orbit. In the case of NY Vir, a rapidly pulsating sdBVr with a cool companion, the period is discovered to be decreasing at a rate of -11.2 × 10-13d per orbit. © 2011 The Author Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

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