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NITheP Stellenbosch node

  • Phone: +27 (0)21 808 2653
  • Fax: +27 (0)21-808-3862


  • Prof Frederik Scholtz
  • Phone: +27218083871
  • Fax: +27218083862
  • Director

    Prof F G Scholtz obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stellenbosch University in 1986. From May 1986 he was a researcher and senior researcher at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stellenbosch University. In January 1993 he was appointed as senior lecturer in the Physics Department at Stellenbosch University. In January 1994 he became an associate professor and in January 1998 he was appointed as full professor in Mathematical Physics in the Physics department of Stellenbosch University. From January 2002 until June 2004 and again from January 2006 to July 2008 he was Head of the Physics Department. In August 2008 he took the position as first Director of the National Institute for Theoretical Physics. He holds a number of awards, which include a von Humboldt fellowship, the Silver Medal of the South African Institute of Physics and the President award of the National research Foundation.

    His current research focuses on non commutative quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. A complete list of his publications is available upon request.

  • Prof Dr Michael Kastner
  • Phone: +27218083863
  • Fax: +27218083862
  • Chief Researcher

    Michael Kastner graduated in 1997 from the Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany) where he also received his PhD in 2000. Starting in 2001, he was a post-doc with Prof. Roberto Livi in Florence (Italy). In 2004 he joined the group of Prof. Helmut Büttner at the Universität Bayreuth (Germany) as an assistant professor and later as Privatdozent. In 2009, Dr. Kastner was appointed as a Chief Researcher at the National Institute for Theoretical Physics and as Extraordinary Associate Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stellenbosch University (South Africa).

    Areas of research:

    Nonequilibrium quantum systems
    Relaxation to thermal equilibrium
    Dynamics and thermodynamics of long-range interacting systems
    Spin models and magnetism
    Geometry of quantum states
    Statistical physics of phase transitions
    Energy landscape methods
    Localization in lattice models

    Prof Kastner's webpage can be found here.

  • Prof Hugo Touchette
  • Phone: +27218082653
  • Fax: +27218083862
  • Chief Researcher

    Originally from Quebec, the french-speaking province of Canada, Dr Touchette obtained his PhD in Physics from McGill University in Montreal and his MSc from MIT. He then spent more than 5 years as lecturer in applied mathematics at the Queen Mary University of London.

    Areas of research:

    His research is in statistical physics, one of the core areas of NITheP's Stellenbosch node, and concerns random systems showing rare but physically important fluctuations, for example, biological processes responsible for transport in cells. He is an expert in applying the theory of large deviations for studying these systems. In addition, he works on quantifying the notion of information in control systems, following the example, well known in physics, of Maxwell's demon violating the second law of thermodynamics.

  • Dr Fabio Cinti
  • Phone: +27218083864
  • Fax: +27218083862
  • Researcher

    Since obtaining his PhD in Physics at Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy (March 2004), Fabio has conducted his research activity in different universities and research institutes in Europe and North America. This includes Università di Firenze (Italy), University of Alberta (Canada), and the Max Planck Institute, Dresden (Germany), first as a post-doc and then as a research associate.

    Research Interests:
    -Quantum many-body problems: Superconductivity, Superfluidity, Supersolidity, and Bose-Einstein condensation;
    -Ultra-cold atomic systems;
    -Quantum-Phase transitions in low dimensions;
    -Computational physics;
    -Critical properties of frustrated spin systems;
    -Rare earth helimagnetic ultra-thin films.

  • Prof Alexander Avdeenkov
  • Phone: +27218082653
  • Fax: +27218083862
  • Research Associate

    Alexander Avdeenkov graduated in 1994 from the Institute of Atomic and Power Engineering (Obninsk, Russia). He received his PhD in 2000 at Join Institute of Nuclear Research (Bogolyubov Laboratory for Theoretical Physics, Dubna, Russia). Starting in 2000, he was a post-doc with Prof. John Bohn (JILA, University of Colorado).

    In 2004 he was appointed as a Senior Researcher at Laboratory of Theoretical Physics at Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (Obninsk, Russia). In 2006-2009 he was working as a researcher for Moscow branch of "Algodign" LLC(USA) and as senior researcher at Institute of Nuclear Physics (Moscow State University). In 2009, Prof. Avdeenkov was appointed as a Senior Researcher at the National Institute for Theoretical Physics and as Extraordinary Senior Lecturer of Theoretical Physics at Stellenbosch University (South Africa).

    As from the beginning of 2013 Prof Avdeenkov is a leading scientist at Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (Obninsk, Russia) as well as Research Associate of NITheP.

    Areas of research:
    Cold quantum gases
    Scattering theory of ultracold atoms and molecules Theoretical investigation of properties of unstable nuclei

  • Mrs Rene Kotze
  • Phone: +27-(0)218082653
  • Fax: +27-(0)218083862
  • Public Relations

    With a BA degree in Psychology and Industrial Psychology, René has worked in a wide range of fields. The last 7 years were spent as a Human Resources Manager for a listed company. René started with NITheP in mid 2010 and is responsible for all outreach and liaison on behalf of the Institute.

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NITheP Gauteng node

  • Phone: 27 (0)11 717 6898
  • Fax:


  • Prof Joao Rodrigues
  • Phone: +27-(0)11-717-6837
  • Fax: +27-(0)11-717-6841
  • NITheP Deputy Director

    Joao is a professor in the School of Physics and the director of the Center for Theoretical Physics. His research focuses on non-perturbative properties of field theories, the 1/N expansion, strings and superstrings. Among his more influential work, he formulated an approach to supermatrix models, which has played a central role in recent developments in the description of unstable D-particles in type II string theory. His most recent work has focused on the development of a string field theory for type II strings in a pp-wave from Yang-Mills theory in the BMN limit and on the study of instantons in c=0 string theory.

    More information on Prof Rodrigues can be found here.

  • Dr Jong Soo Kim
  • Phone:
  • Fax:
  • New Researcher starting at WITS early 2017

  • Dr Mukesh Kumar
  • Phone: +27-(0)11-7176951
  • Fax: +27-(0)11-7176879
  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    Mukesh is from Bihar, India and has obtained his education in Delhi, India. He completed an MSc (Physics) in 2008 and obtained a PhD from the University of Delhi, Delhi in 2014.

    Mukesh visited the NITheP Wits node from January to April 2014, and started his current Position as Post Doctoral Fellow at the NITheP WITS node in June 2014

    His research Interests are:
    Standard Model (SM) + Beyond SM Phenomenology in the Top quark and Higgs sector at different colliders.

    More Details can be found at:

  • Dr Catherine Whiting
  • Phone: +27-(0)11-717-6819
  • Fax: +27-(0)11-7176879
  • Postdoctoral Fellow

    Catherine is from the state of Iowa in the USA and obtained her PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Iowa, Iowa City in 2015. She also received an MS degree in astronomy in 2010. She started the NITheP postdoc at Wits in September 2015.

    Her current research interests include string theory and supergravity in the context of the AdS/CFT correspondence.

  • Paula Marais
  • Phone: 011 717 6898
  • Fax:
  • Paula can be contacted for any enquiries related to the WITS NITheP node.

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NITheP KZN node

  • Phone: 27 (0)31 260 7570
  • Fax: 27 (0)31 260 8090


  • Prof Francesco Petruccione
  • Phone: +27-(0)31-2602770
  • Fax: +27-(0)31-2608090
  • NITheP Deputy Director

    Prof. Francesco Petruccione
    South African Research Chair
    in Quantum Information Processing and Communication
    School of Physics - Quantum Research Group
    University of KwaZulu-Natal - Westville Campus
    Private Bag X54001
    Durban 4000, South Africa

    Office: H-Block, Room H3-24

    Secretary: Mrs Diane Sivil
    tel: +27 (0)31 260 7994

    Francesco Petruccione was born in 1961 in Genova (Italy). He studied Physics at the University of Freiburg i. Br.(Germany) and received his PhD in 1988. He got his ?Habilitation? (Dr. rer. nat. habil.) from the same University in 1994 and worked there as Associate Professor of Theoretical Physics until 2003. In 2004 he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 2005 he was awarded an Innovation Fund grant to set up a Centre for Quantum Technology. In 2007 he was granted a South African Research Chair for Quantum Information Processing and Communication from the National Research Foundation. He is the Deputy-Director of the National Institute of Theoretical Physics. Since March 2008 he is a member of the Board of the UKZN Innovation Company.

    Prof. Petruccione has published more than 90 papers in refereed journals. He is the co-author of a monograph on ?The Theory of Open Quantum Systems?, that was published in 2002, reprinted as paperback in 2007, and is being translated in Russian at the moment. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal "Open Systems and Information Dynamics". He is the editor of several proceedings volumes and of special editions of scientific journals. He has been invited to deliver more than 50 talks.

    The miniaturization of technological devices necessitates the manipulation of objects at the nanoscale level at which coherent quantum mechanical processes start to dominate the physical properties.

    The unavoidable interaction of these systems with their environment gives rise to dissipative mechanisms and a strong loss of quantum coherence, i.e. decoherence. Since perfect isolation of quantum systems is not possible, it is of central importance to incorporate the methods and tools of the theory of quantum systems in the exploration of quantum technologies. Prof. Petruccione has contributed to the development of the theory of open quantum systems, which is at the basis of recent quantum information technological applications

    The basic concept of Quantum Information Processing and Communication (QIPC) is that information is actually stored, processed and communicated according to the laws of quantum physics: the classical "bit" is replaced by the quantum mechanical "qubit". This "quantum" dimension enables Quantum Computers to perform tasks we will never achieve with ordinary IT. For example, quantum computers hold the promise for solving efficiently some computationally hard problems, like e.g. large integer factorisation or the simulation of quantum systems. Although this field is relatively new and in rapid development research clearly indicates that a whole new quantum information technology (QIT) is emerging.

    The most advanced new quantum technology is Quantum Cryptography. Thanks to a generous grant of the Innovation Fund the Research Group of Prof. Petruccione is realizing a quantum key distribution system. Following a quantum protocol a cryptographic key is encoded into the polarization states of single photons (qubits). The security of the transmission of the key between two parties is guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics. The realization of the project involves the development of quantum devices such as single photon sources and detectors. The flagship project of the Research Group is the realization of a quantum network in the optical fiber network of the Ethekwini Municipality. This quantum network allows the secure exchange of communication between four parties. The project has been generously sponsored by the Ethekwini Municipality and will be launched at the SmartCity conference in October 2008. This will be worldwide the first such network operating in a Municipality and will make Durban the first Quantum City.

    The vision behind these efforts is to kick start the development of a Quantum Information Processing and Communication industry in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal. This is well in line with the national initiatives promoted by the DST to support Photonics and Nanotechnology developments in the Country. In fact QIPC offers the unique opportunity to exploit the synergy of both Nanotechnology and Photonics. The first milestone on the industrialization road map is to spin-off of a company from the UKZN Research Group and embed it into the strategic plans of the existing KZN ICTE Cluster. Plans in this direction are well under way.

  • Dr Vinayak Jagadish
  • Phone: +2 (0) 720222536
  • Fax: +27-(0)31-260-8090
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at NITheP

    Vinayak Jagadish graduated in 2016 from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER TVM). Starting from September 2016, he is a Postdoc at NITheP KZN-Node under the guidance of Prof Francesco Petruccione.

    Areas of research:
    Open Quantum Systems

  • Ms Nelisiwe Mncube
  • Phone: +27-(0)31-2607570
  • Fax: +27-(0)31-2608990
  • Ms Nelisiwe Mncube
    National Institute for Theoretical Physics
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Private Bag x54001
    South Africa

    Administrative Assistant.

    With a B. Com degree in Marketing and Information Systems & technology.She has worked for the University of KwaZulu-Natal at the School of Physics as an administrative assistant .In 2007 she jointed NITheP,her duties include financial administration, liaising with bursary holders and organizing of seminars and workshops as well as general office management.