Exceptional honour for two physics researchers

Exceptional honour for two physics researchers

Two researchers at the Centre for Space Research (CSR) at the North-West University (NWU) were recently exceptionally honoured with the ratings they received from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Prof Markus Böttcher, NRF SARChI Chair and Professor of Astrophysics and Space Physics, 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).

Prof Böttcher joined the NWU last year after 11 years as professor at the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of Ohio in the USA. 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.

Prof 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.

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).

Dr 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 USA 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 his expertise in millisecond pulsars, and that his theoretical insight brings a fresh perspective to the data.


Dr Christo Venter and Prof Markus Böttcher from the Centre for Spare Research at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University.