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DARA Big Data Partner Organisations

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DARA Big Data is funded by the UK's Newton Fund with matching support given by the South African Department of Science and Innovation. Key partner organisations are detailed below. 


The DARA Project

DARA Big Data works closely with the DARA Project, led by Prof Melvin Hoare at the University of Leeds. The DARA Project was set up in 2015 to train African students in all aspects of radio astronomy. The success of this programme led to an identified need for a similar project that trained African students in the complementary area of data science, becoming DARA Big Data. 

Department of Science and Innovation, South Africa

The Department of Science and Technology seeks to boost socio-economic development in South Africa through research and innovation. To achieve its goals, the Department provides leadership, an enabling environment and resources for groundbreaking science, technology and innovation. 

South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)

SARAO manages all radio astronomy initiatives and facilities in South Africa, including the MeerKAT Radio Telescope in the Karoo Desert. SARAO also coordinates the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) for the eight SKA partner countries in Africa, as well as South Africa’s contribution to the infrastructure and engineering planning for the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope. To maximise the return on South Africa’s investment in radio astronomy, SARAO is managing programmes to create capacity in radio astronomy science and engineering research, and the technical capacity required to support site operations. This includes working closely with DARA Big Data to coordinate skills training programmes such as the Big Data Africa School

Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD)

The OAD aims to further the use of astronomy, including its practitioners, skills and infrastructures, as a tool for sustainable development globally. The OAD is a joint project of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) with the support of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). Dr Nikhita Madhanpall, who is based in Cape Town at the OAD office, works as a DARA Big Data Fellow to deliver hackathon skills training across the AVN. 

Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA)

IDIA is a partnership of three South African universities; Cape Town, the Western Cape and Pretoria. The overarching goal of IDIA is to build within the South African university research community the capacity and expertise in data intensive research to enable global leadership on large science projects. DARA Big Data skills training hackathons and workshops are run on the IDIA Research Cloud with substantial computational and storage resources allocated. 

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