SA-based scientist first African to receive international award

John Bosco Habarulema, a Ugandan scientist based in South Africa who works at the South African National Space Agency, has become the first African to receive the Sunanda & Santimay Basu Early Career Award.

The award is presented by the Space Physics & Aeronomy (SPA) Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to scientists who are still early in their careers, but have already made outstanding contributions to research in Sun-Earth Systems Science.

For Habarulema’s work to be eligible, it had to further the understanding of both plasma physical processes and their applications for the benefit of society.

His PhD thesis, for example, dealt with modelling the Earth’s ionosphere to determine the effect of space weather such as solar flares on the Global Positioning System.

Or, as the abstract of his thesis so eloquently put it:

Modelling ionospheric total electron content (TEC) is an important area of interest for radio wave propagation, geodesy, surveying, the understanding of space weather dynamics and error correction in relation to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNNS) applications.

Other eligibility requirements noted on the AGU website are:

  • Active AGU membership is not a requirement;
  • Scientists who currently live and work in developing nations are eligible nominees; and
  • Completion of requirements for the award of Ph.D. degree (or highest equivalent terminal degree) during the seven-year period prior to the award presentation year (1 January 2007–31 December 2013).

“A number of important reasons led the AGU in selecting Dr Habarulema for the 2014 International Basu Award,” a spokesperson for Sansa told MyBroadband.

These include an impressive research record, and Habarulema’s efforts to overcome intrinsic difficulties not only to obtain his education and success in his career, but also to develop space sciences in Africa.

Sansa’s spokesperson said that Habarulema has been described as an outstanding researcher, a role model for young African scientists, and a dedicated mentor.

“I am very excited to have received this award so early in my career,” Habarulema said. “I hope that this inspires other young African scientists to believe in themselves and to never give up on their goals. The best way to succeed is to accept that you don’t know it all, learn from your failures and grab every opportunity to advance your career.”

Lee-Anne McKinnell, managing director of Sansa Space Science said that they are extremely proud of Habarulema and his dedication to the field of Space Science research.

“He is a world class scientist and has a bright career ahead of him,” McKinnell said.

Habarulema has been invited by the SPA Section to present a paper at AGU’s fall meeting, to be held in San Francisco, California from 15 to 19 December 2014, where he will be presented with the award.

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SA-based scientist first African to receive international award