What comes shining through when you meet the latest arrival at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is that he lives and breathes research.

Prof Don Kurtz recently took up the reins of extraordinary professor to work with Prof Thebe Medupe at the university’s Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory.


Prof Don, as he is known, is the discoverer of a class of pulsating, magnetic stars that are the most peculiar stars known. He is also co-author of the 866-page fundamental textbook, Asteroseismology, and his primary research interests are in diverse applications of this discipline.


He was recently awarded an A1 rating by the South African National Research Foundation, its highest accolade. This is a testament to his passion and achievement to international astrophysics research.


Although extraordinary professorship is an honorary title, Prof Don has absolutely no intention of being a figurehead and is eager to engage with students, staff and members of the public.


Between fire and ice


He demonstrated this at his first online public lecture last month, entitled: “Between Fire and Ice: The Earth’s Special Place”. (Click here to watch a video about his lecture.)


Prof Don took attendees through a captivating journey of the solar system; explaining the characteristics of the Earth, Moon, Sun and the various planets; something only an experienced orator could do for such an extremely complicated subject.


He says his public lecture was designed to be entertaining, educational and motivational and to open up a new window into the weird and wonderful world of science.


Prof Don has strong links to the Mahikeng Campus, having first visited here in 2002. He now resides in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape with occasional trips to the United Kingdom.

shares his passion for research


Prof Don,



“The appointment of an academic of his calibre underlines the NWU's commitment to excellence.”

- Prof Marilyn Setlalentoa, deputy vice-chancellor for community engagement and Mahikeng Campus operations


Prof Don receives a welcoming gift from the NWU mascot, Eagi, at the Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory Telescope.

Prof Don Kurtz gazes into the sky at the Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory Telescope.