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Kenzo a strong candidate for Cern PhD fellowship

Kenzo Abrahams from Kuils River is a strong candidate to become the first student of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to receive a prestigious Cern PhD fellowship.

“Last year in January, Kenzo (PhD), Makabata Mokgolobotho (MSc) and Craig Mehl (PhD) attended a workshop in nuclear physics organised by the Nuclear Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Switzerland. The leader of the Isolde facility at Cern, Professor Garcia Borge, was so impressed with them that she emailed me saying that our students performed excellently.

“In fact, they performed so well they opened an unprecedented opportunity for themselves. Craig is currently in the ‘States and according to Borge Kenzo is now a strong candidate for this fellowship,” says Prof Nico Orce, professor of nuclear physics in the physics and astronomy department at UWC.

“Around November every year, for the last five years, UWC has organised the now world-renowned Tastes of Nuclear Physics, where we’ve brought many international leaders to lecture our postgraduate students,” he says.

“This is probably one of the most successful local conferences aimed at South African students. The students have presented their research in Russia, Australia, India or the USA and trained in the best laboratories worldwide,” he adds.

“Kenzo got an A level in my quantum mechanics and nuclear physics course at UWC. He is probably the most logical student I’ve ever had. His maths, writing and computing skills are simply outstanding, and after doing a Masters in computer science, he asked me whether he could join us and do nuclear physics. He started with his PhD at the beginning of the year and his research project aims at investigating the conundrum of why nuclei follow a zig-zag of different shapes in that nuclear region,” says Orce. “This is actually a similar experiment to the ones that UWC has approved at Cern. It took us some three years to build this pipeline at iThemba Labs, and (it) will prepare him with hands-on and computing skills for our Cern experiment in November.

“Both Craig and Kenzo will analyse the Cern experiment for their PhDs. They are the kind of students that will surely make South Africa proud. Kenzo also worked at the iThema LABS in Somerset West for two months before he went to Switzerland. Both he and Craig are still building their careers in nuclear physics and I have high hopes that they will succeed.”

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