• Opportunities for PhD and MSc students with South African based Researchers (NITheP Associates and staff)


    This page has been created after numerous requests for a portal to be created where Supervisors can advertise opportunities, and where Students can advertise what they are searching for.

    If interested to advertise your information, then please send an email to René Kotzé at renekotze[at] and your information/advertisement will be placed after being screened.

    Prof Steven Karataglidis (University of Johannesburg/SA CERN/University of Melbourne)

    Many opportunities and projects are available for work in Nuclear Theory. The main thrust of the research is the interplay between Nuclear Structure and Nuclear Reactions, and how that interplay works to explain existing data in scattering and other experiments. Also, the work relates directly to the structure of exotic nuclei, those nuclei far from stability, and how that knowledge is also applied to Nuclear Astrophysics.

    There are collaborations with experimental programmes at RIKEN (Japan), GANIL (France), CEA/Saclay (France), and GSI (Germany) for the analysis of scattering data from exotic nuclei. Most recently, an exciting new programme, measuring the electron scattering from exotic nuclei, has begun at RIKEN, with physicists from RIKEN and Tohoku University. Such data will elicit information about the proton (charge) density of exotic nuclei, particularly the isotopes of Sn and Xe. Together with analyses of proton scattering data, such information will finally allow a complete picture of exotic nuclei to be constructed.

    Another main avenue of research involves a collaboration with the University of Melbourne, Australia, the INFN, Italy, the University of Manitoba, Canada, and Curtin University, Australia. That project is the Multi-Channel Algebraic Scattering (MCAS) Project, which is a new method for solving the underlying equations describing low-energy nucleon-nucleus and alpha-nucleus scattering. It has been successful in describing data even from nuclei beyond the drip lines (nuclei which decay immediately by either proton or neutron emission), and has direct relevance in describing processes in nucleosynthesis.

    The final main avenue of research is in Mathematical Physics, involving asking questions of fundamental aspects/assumptions of nuclear physics. This has direct bearing also on some fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics and density functional theory.

    Topics include:
    1) Nuclear Structure (Shell model based) of stable and exotic nuclei. Large space, no core, models in particular.
    2) Low-energy scattering (MCAS).
    3) Electron scattering from exotic nuclei.
    4) Intermediate energy nucleon-nucleus scattering.
    5) Nuclear astrophysics. (Nuclear-structure questions.)
    6) Fundamental aspects of nuclear physics, analytic density functional theory, and quantum mechanics.

    Prof Allan Joseph Medved (Rhodes University)

    Dr Fabio Cinti (NITheP Stellenbosch node)

    Dr H.Cynthia Chiang (Department of Physics, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

    Searching for the echoes of inflation in microwave background polarisation

    Inflation is a cornerstone of the modern cosmological paradigm, and one of the greatest challenges is searching for robust observational signatures. One of the most exciting experimental probes is the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which encodes the ripples of gravitational waves generated by inflationary expansion. If detected, this polarisation signal opens our first observational window into inflationary energy scales associated with Grand Unification, which are orders of magnitude beyond the energy accessible to particle accelerators.

    Experiments over the past decade have made significant strides in the search for the gravitational wave signature, with a possible first detection by the BICEP2 experiment. This project will address the important next step of independent confirmation by additional observations that have increased electromagnetic, angular, and spatial coverage. SPIDER is a balloon-borne telescope that will measure CMB polarisation with unprecedented sensitivity and fidelity, and the instrument will launch from McMurdo Station, Antarctica in December 2014. The data analysis will present a wide range of challenges, as extracting the minuscule cosmological signal requires extraordinary care and precision. There will be numerous opportunities to develop computational techniques and software for analysing the large data volume, as well as efficiently generating simulations to perform statistical tests on the self-consistency of the data.

    Weighing neutrinos with lensed CMB polarisation

    The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is a snapshot of the universe in its infancy, and at fine angular scales, the CMB is gravitationally lensed by large-scale structure. This lensing introduces a faint twist or "curl" in the polarisation of the CMB, which encodes a wealth of information and can potentially constrain the mass of neutrinos and the nature of dark energy.

    The aim of this project is to work toward the goal of improved neutrino mass constraints with data from the South Pole Telescope polarimeter (SPTpol). SPTpol was the first experiment to detect the lensed signature in CMB polarisation, and the instrument is still continuing to take data. There are opportunities to develop computational techniques and software for analysing SPTpol data and for performing simulations to assess instrumental systematics and noise properties.

    Dr. W. A. Horowitz (Department of Physics, University of Cape Town)

    Opportunities for the supervision of NITheP internships as well as Honours, MSc, and PhD students. See for some sample projects. Significant travel funding is currently available.

    Prof Hugo Touchette (NITheP Stellenbosch node) MSc and PhD Supervision (with bursaries) available

    Prof Alessandro Sergi (School of Physics, UKZN Pietermaritzburg)

    Opportunity for Supervision of Honours and PhD/MSc students

    Topics: Quantum dynamics of
    i) spins in thermal baths;
    ii) opto-mechanical excitations on the nano-scale.

    Methods: Computer simulation of
    i) quantum mechanics in phase space;
    ii) non-Hermitian quantum mechanics.

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