Exceptional honour for two physics researchers

Professor Markus Böttcher, NRF SARChI Chair and Professor of Astrophysics and Space Physics in the NWU’s Centre for Space Research, received his B1 rating this year for the considerable international recognition that he enjoys for the high quality and impact of his recent research outputs. Dr Christo Venter, senior lecturer in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences and CSR, received his President’s Award (P rating). 

Böttcher joined the NWU last year after eleven years as professor at the physics and astronomy department of the University of Ohio in the United States (US). He completed his training (undergraduate and PhD) at the University of Bonn in Germany, and his postdoctoral studies took him to the Rice University in Houston and the navy research laboratory in Washington. 

Böttcher’s research interest is in active galactic nuclei, gamma ray bursts and galactic black hole candidates in the Milky Way. He is a member of several international organisations, such as the High-energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) Collaboration, the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope Collaboration, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Sigma Xi Research Society. Böttcher was also the junior world champion in shorthand for several years. 

Dr Christo Venter’s P rating was awarded for being a researcher under the age of 35 who is considered likely to become a future international leader in his field of research. His research outputs of the past eight years were considered by an international panel of seven experts in the field of gamma ray astrophysics (specifically pulsar magnetospheres). Venter’s research journey started as postgraduate student at the CSR, a Centre of Excellence at the NWU that has delivered several excellent researchers. 

After obtaining his PhD he received a research bursary from NASA and spent a year in the US where he worked as a Fermi Fellow on the latest data from the Fermi space telescope. The evaluators have indicated that great international experiments such as HESS and Fermi recognise and respect Christo’s expertise in millisecond pulsars, and that his theoretical insight brings a fresh perspective to the data. 

“Christo Venter’s work is creative and meticulous, and is based on sound mathematical and physical principles. As further proof of his leadership he has acted as an invited speaker and referee of articles in international journals.” 

Christo was trained by two outstanding and world-renowned researchers, Professor Okkie de Jager and Dr Alice Harding, which has opened many doors for him. Christo is very grateful for this gift. “I thank my heavenly Father for the incredible opportunities, people and gifts that He has placed in my path, and that colleagues were willing to invest so much in me to help shape my career.”

This supplement has been paid for by the North-West University Potchefstroom Campus. Contents and pictures were supplied and signed of by the NWU

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