AfNWA Board

Prof. Mirjana Pović

Mirjana Prović is an assistant professor at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), an associate researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain, and a honorary lecturer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. She obtained her PhD in astrophysics in 2010 from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain). Her main research interests are galaxy formation and evolution, in particular nuclear activity in galaxies, star formation, morphological classification of galaxies, and galaxy clusters. In addition, for more than 10 years, she has worked on development in astronomy, science and education in different parts of Africa, in particular in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia through different projects and initiatives related with research collaborations, institutional development, student supervision, trainings, lecturing, regulation development, women in science and outreach. In 2018 she received the inaugural Nature Research Award for Inspiring Science dedicated to young women for their scientific achievements and contributions to society. In May 2019, she was invited by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia to be one of 16 selected Science Ambassadors. In June 2019, she received a recognition from the ESSTI for her contribution and work, and in March 2020, a recognition from the Ethiopian Space Science Society for her involvement in education and outreach.

She believes that through education science and technology we can fight poverty in the long term and make our world a better place for everyone in the future, regardless of where children are born.

Dr. Priscilla Muheki

Priscilla Miheki holds a PhD and is an assistant lecturer in the department of Physics at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. Her research interests are in the effects of stellar activity on planetary atmospheres and evolution. She completed her PhD studies at Mbarara University of Science and Technology and the Thuringer Landessternwarte Tautenberg in Germany. She is so enthusiastic about seeing the number of girls in STEM fields increase and so she is involved in several collaborations to reach as many girls as possible in both high school and at university.

She believes that girls too can be what they want to be and as such need to be empowered to realize their dreams despite all cultural barriers.

Prof. Vanessa McBride

Vanessa McBride is an astronomer at the Office of Astronomy for Development where she works towards bridging the gap between the community of professional astronomers and the development world with a view to helping astronomers apply their skills to socio-economic issues. She has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Southampton and her research centers around populations of massive stars and related objects in binaries. She is head of research at the South African Astronomical Observatory and is an adjunct associate professor at the University of Cape Town. 

Prof. Somaya Saad

Somaya Saad is professor of astrophysics at the Astronomy Department of the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG). She is an active member in the International Astronomical Union. She was President of the IAU National Egyptian Committee (2018-2021). She received her MSc and PhD in Astrophysics from Cairo University. She worked as a post doctoral fellow for one year at the Astronomy Department at Seoul National University, South Korea (1999-2000) and for two years at the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic (2002-2004). She was the Principal Investigator of two scientific projects through the international cooperation between the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) and the Czech Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on the fields of stellar astrophysics, physics of hot and emission line stars, and stellar variability. In 2013 she contributed to the establishment of the Kottamia Center of Scientific Excellence in Astronomy and Space Science is funded by the Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF). She organized a series of local symposia, workshops and training courses. In 2018 she participated in organizing the 40th ISYA under the auspices of the IAU, OYA, ASRT and the host NRIAG.

She believes strongly that education in general is the only way to have a better life and take care of women’s education in particular will change the globe. 

Ms. Salma Sylla Mbaye

With a background in atomic and nuclear physics, Ms. Salma Sylla Mbaye is currently doing her PhD in astrophysics, making her the first astrophysicist in her home country, Senegal. She used her skills in computer science to carry her through the years until she got the opportunity to study for her PhD. Her research focuses on determining the age of outer solar system objects using data from collisions on the surface of Jupiter. She is also a writer for L’Astronomie Afrique, the first online magazine about African astronomy in French. She is also a fellow of the Organisation of Women in Science for the Developing World. She is very dedicated to outreach – she recognise the role of science in societies’ efforts to develop a better place in the world and wants to share her passion for astronomy with the young from all over Africa.

Past AfNWA Board Members

Prof. Carolina Odman

Carolina Ödman is Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa and Associate Director, Development and Outreach at the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA). Trained in physics at EPFL in Switzerland, she holds a PhD in cosmology from Cambridge University, UK. She has done research in several fields of physics and developed educational programmes based on science from early childhood to postgraduate training. She has also worked in a financial technology startup. She now focuses on researching and bringing a development agenda to science. Her work has earned her numerous awards nationally and internationally including the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (AAS 2011). In 2018, she received a Special Award from the International Astronomical Union for her work in Education, Outreach and Development. Most recently, she was part of the South African InspiringFifty 2020 cohort, which seeks to recognise inspiring women in STEM as role models for girls.

Dr. Nana Ama Browne Klutse

Dr. Nana Ama Browne Klutse is a Senior Research Scientist at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. She is the Manager of the Remote Sensing and Climate Center at the Institute. She holds a PhD in Climatology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research focuses on climate modelling, climate impact assessments on society (health, energy, and gender). She has worked on both national and international projects and consultancies including the climate and health project in Ghana and the ongoing global CORDEX experiment. She is a Lead Author in Working Group 1 the Intergovermental Panel for Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report (2018 to 2021). She dedicates her life for community services, mentors young men and women for education pursuits, self-confidence and self-motivation. She also trains professionals in etiquettes and assertiveness. As part of her service to give back to society, she is a motivation speaker and articulates effectively on all platforms.  At the leisure time, she spends time with children with learning disabilities.