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The shape of things to come: Kenzo Abrahams, UWC’s first PhD sponsored by CERN

Author: Institutional Advancement: (021) 959 2625

Physics student Kenzo Abrahams is investigating the conundrum of why nuclei follow a zig-zag of different shapes - as UWC’s very first recipient of a prestigious CERN PhD bursary.

The shape of things to come: Kenzo Abrahams, UWC’s first PhD sponsored by CERN

Physics student Kenzo Abrahams is investigating the conundrum of why nuclei follow a zig-zag of different shapes - as UWC’s very first recipient of a prestigious CERN PhD bursary.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is proud to announce that Kenzo Abrahams will be the first UWC student to receive a prestigious CERN PhD bursary.

He left for Geneva (Switzerland) October 18 to take his place at the world-famous institution - which houses the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider in a tunnel 27km in circumference, and employs 20 000 scientists and engineers - to perform research aimed at investigating the conundrum of why nuclei follow a zig-zag of different shapes in the nuclear region they occupy.

In January last year, Kenzo (PhD), Makabata Mokgolobotho (MSc) and Craig Mehl (PhD) attended a workshop in nuclear physics organised by the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. They performed so well that they opened an unprecedented opportunity for themselves.

“Kenzo is probably the most logical student I’ve ever had,” says Prof Nico Orce, professor of nuclear physics at UWC. “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 got an A in my quantum mechanics and nuclear physics course.”

Kenzo worked at iThema LABS in Somerset West for two months before he went to Switzerland. He will analyse the CERN experiment for his PhD.

“Kenzo is still building his career in nuclear physics and I have high hopes that he will succeed,” says Orce: “He’s the kind of student that will surely make South Africa proud.

Not long ago, UWC celebrated the achievements of our Physics Department who have been allocated six days of experiments in November at CERN - the holy grail for scientists worldwide.

The groundbreaking research opportunity will come at a price tag of R2 million a day -and will not only put UWC in the world spotlight, but also offer students the opportunity of a lifetime.


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