The University of Namibia (UNAM) seeks a resourceful, innovative Ph.D. astronomer with
experience and motivation in public outreach, education and development activities. This
postdoctoral position, with a specific focus on astro-tourism for development, is supported by an
award from the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to the University of Oxford. The aim
of this GCRF project is to develop human capacity in Namibia across the areas of science,
education, and astronomy-related tourism.
Namibia has some of the clearest and darkest skies in the world. The combination of mild climate
and low population density mean that astro-tourism has huge potential in Namibia, with a minimum
environment impact even if tourist numbers substantially increase. Tourism and the environment
are identified as priority research areas in the National Programme on Research, Science,
Technology and Innovation. At present, Namibia has a small, very professional, community of
“astrofarms” which attracts high-end amateur astronomers, but the majority of tourism is focussed
on wildlife and the terrestrial environment.
This position will entail diversifying astro-tourism in a sustainable manner to ensure economic
benefit spreads to previously disadvantaged sectors of Namibian society. This will entail working
across government, non-governmental organisations and development agencies with support from
UNAM, Oxford and the Office of Astronomy for Development.
The post has a gross salary of NAD 346,950 per annum with healthcare and social benefits
included. It will be based at UNAM main campus, with funds available for travel to international
meetings and collaboration with the OAD and other regional centres. The position is available
immediately, and will run until 31 March 2021.
UNAM is the largest and leading institution of higher education in the country. It is a diverse
institution with a student population from 43 countries and from all populated continents. Although
a relatively young university, it has grown to support a student population of over 27,000 students
on 12 campuses.
The Department of Physics at UNAM is situated at its main campus in Windhoek and hosts the
largest and most active astronomy group in southern Africa outside South Africa. Currently, the
department hosts four senior and three junior academic staff together with several postgraduate
students. The fields of activity are focused around gamma-ray astronomy of active galaxies,
observational cosmology with SN Ia, computational cosmic ray propagation, occultation
observations of TNOs, and site testing for astronomical facilities. Besides being member institute to
the H.E.S.S. collaboration and the CTA consortium, the Department of Physics is leading the
national efforts towards the SKA and the African VLBI Network (AVN). Further, UNAM is founding
partner of the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) project to establish the first mm-wave radio
telescope on the African continent to complement the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).
Additionally, members of the Department have access to the Southern African Large Telescope
(SALT) and to an in-house HPC cluster. The department expects further expansion with the
establishment of a research chair in multi-wavelength astronomy.
Candidates should have completed a Ph.D. in any area of astrophysics before commencing the
post. Applicants should send a CV (two pages) and description of relevant experience in
astronomy public outreach, education and/or development along with a statement of research
interests (three pages in total) to Ashling Gordon (ashling.Gordon@physics.ox.ac.uk) and arrange
for two confidential reference letters to be sent to the same address. Consideration of applications
will begin on 30/11/2019 and will continue until the post is filled.
This post is one of several available under the UNAM-Oxford GCRF project and is in addition to
the posts recently advertised in high-energy astrophysics. Candidates who applied unsuccessfully
for the high-energy astrophysics posts are encouraged to apply again. Informal enquiries may be
sent to Prof Garret Cotter (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr Michael Backes
(email@example.com) and Dr Eli Kasai (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The University of Namibia is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion.