CRC (Centre for Radio Cosmology)

What is the CRC?

The Centre for Radio Cosmology (CRC) is funded by the South African SKA Project and led by Prof Mario Santos. It aims to fully exploit the use of the next generation of radio telescopes for measurements in cosmology, in particular with MeerKAT and SKA1.

The CRC at UWC is active in research on cosmology with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and its precursors. CRC staff is closely involved in the South African and international SKA projects.

What are its goals?

The main focus of CRC is the development of pipelines and technical know-how in order to have a world-leading group capable of conducting the required radio surveys and tackle the huge data volumes that will be provided by these telescopes and ultimately provide exquisite cosmological constraints.

CRC missions: 

  • To fully exploit the use of the next generation of radio telescopes for measurements in cosmology, in particular with MeerKAT and SKA1.
  • Revealing the childhood of the Universe with low-frequency radio telescopes and data simulations.
  • HI Intensity mapping and higher-order corrections.
  • HERA power spectrum analysis.

Key Observing Instrumentation:

The CRC aims to fully exploit the use of the next generation of radio telescopes for measurements in cosmology – in particular with South African experiments using MeerKAT, HERA (see figure below) and SKA. When completed, the SKA will be the largest radio telescope in the world, and one of the largest and most powerful observing instruments ever built.

Academic Staff

Prof Mario Santos:    Email-

My main area of research is Cosmology. In particular, I’m studying how the next generation of large radio telescopes, such as MeerKAT  in South Africa and the future SKA will be able to answer fundamental questions in Cosmology, from the nature of dark energy or the physics of the primordial Universe to the process of Reionization when the first stars and galaxies of the Universe were born.  This research involves both analytical models and large scale numerical simulations as well as a good understanding of the telescopes setup. The huge volumes of data that will be provided by these experiments also allow for unique and exciting ways to develop novel statistical analysis techniques.

Experiments in which I’m currently involved: MeerKAT, SKA, PAPER, LOFAR, ASKAP, APERTIF, EUCLID.


Dr Yi-Chao Li:    Email-

My name is Yi-Chao Li and I am a Postdoc at UWC. I am interested in Cosmological Large scale structure analysis and I am currently working on the HI intensity mapping with MeerKAT.

Dr Margherita Molaro:    Email- 

Margherita Molaro is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Radio Cosmology of the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. She works on developing new techniques for modelling the propagation of light in astrophysical simulations, with a particular focus on the study of the Epoch of Reionisation – which took place during the Universe’s first billion years – and of the evolution of galaxies. She is also the founder and coordinator of the astronomy outreach project Astro Molo Mhlaba (, which brings outreach activities and career advice to female primary and high-school students in underserved communities of Khayelitsha and Philippi.

Dr Matt Prescott:    Email-

I am currently a postdoc at UWC where I research the evolution of Galaxies and AGN using large datasets of multiwavelength data.

Dr Jingying Wang:    Email-

My current work focuses on the HI intensity mapping with MeerKAT, mainly including the single dish calibration and foreground cleaning.

Dr Sourabh Paul:     Email-

I am an SKA Postdoctoral Fellow based at UWC, working on the Intensity mapping experiment with MeerKAT. My previous research includes the study of the redshifted HI from the Epoch of Reionization. 

Publication list:

PhD Students

Siyambonga Matshawule:   Email-

I am an NGAP Lecturer and PhD student working with Prof Mario Santos and Prof Roy Maartens at the Centre for Radio Cosmology. My main research area is in Cosmology, in the subject of HI intensity mapping. My project involves simulating single dish primary beam effects on foregrounds, particularly concentrating on their frequency dependence, and effects on point sources. Understanding single dish instrumental effects will be important for foreground cleaning when conducting HI intensity mapping studies with telescopes such as the MeerKAT and future SKA telescope. Away from research, my other interests are in public outreach , STEM education and farming. 

Eliab Malefahlo:   Email-

I am a PhD student under Prof Mario Santos, working on analysis tools to extract cosmological information from continuum surveys (such as the MIGHTEE). I am currently working with a Bayesian stacking technique to extend measurements of the quasar luminosity function below the detection threshold.

Brandon Engelbrecht: Email- 

I am a PhD student, starting in 2020 however I have begun working on my research, under the supervision of Prof. Mario Santos, Dr Jingying Wang and Dr Yi-Chao Li. My research revolves around using the Neutral Hydrogen (HI) Intensity Mapping technique with MeerKAT in single dish mode. Currently, I am working on: a) Single dish real data analysis for MeerKAT, which covers radio frequency interference mitigation and b) HI power spectrum estimation from simulated MeerKAT maps.  

MSc Students

Junaid Townsend:   Email- 

I am a Master’s student under the supervision of Prof. Mario Santos. My research focuses on studying the HI power spectrum using radio interferometry. In particular, my objectives include developing and analyzing simulations of the sky measured by radio interferometers (in particular, MeerKAT with the MIGHTEE Survey) in order to determine whether a measurement of the HI power spectrum is possible with the currently available MIGHTEE data. These simulations will mimic the observation pipeline and include details such as thermal noise and foreground considerations to best compare with actual data.

Jade Petersen-Charles:   Email-

I am currently a 1st year Msc student working with Prof. Mario Santos and Dr. Yi-Chao Li. 

The focus of my project is to test and validate various aspects of the data analysis pipeline that is being developed to ensure that the cosmological signals can be extracted without distortion or contamination by various astrophysical and instrumental effects.

Liantsoa Finaritra Randrianjanahary Email:

I am a Master’s student under the supervision of Prof. Mario Santos and Dr Aurelie Penin. I am working on cosmology with HI intensity mapping. I focus on studying the effect of relativistic high order corrections. I use HIRAX (Hydrogen Intensity and Real-time eXperiment) for my project as a survey to test how the cosmological parameters will be biased. I also investigate the BAO signal.

Malebo Ella Moloko:  Email-

I am a master’s student working under the supervision of Prof. M Santos and Dr. M Prescott. My project deals with the investigation of morphologies of radio sources in a large sky survey.