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Prof Mattia Vaccari


Mattia Vaccari was born in Italy and studied at the University of Padova where he completed an MSc in Physics and a PhD in Space Science & Technology. He has since been a Research Scientist at Imperial College London, the University of Padova and the University of the Western Cape, working at the junction between astronomical instrumentation, big data processing and extragalactic astrophysics.

He is now eResearch Director and Astroinformatics Research Professor at UCT. In his research, he uses ground-based as well as space-based telescopes to observe distant galaxies at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum and study their formation and evolution over cosmic time. He also applies Artificial Intelligence techniques to longstanding problems in observational astrophysics such as source detection, identification and classification as well as to weather forecasting and food quality. He has contributed to the design of and developed data processing algorithms for several space satellite astrophysics missions by ESA and NASA. In particular, he contributed to the design of the GAIA space astrometry mission and to the development of the ground segment for the Herschel Space Observatory.

Prof Vaccari leads the HELP-IDIA Panchromatic Project (HIPPO), whose aim is to create a cloud-based environment where astronomers can exploit MeerKAT data in the context of multi-wavelength data in a collaborative manner. As ilifu facility director he oversees the selection and the execution of research projects in astronomy and bioinformatics being run on this cloud computing data intensive research infrastructure. He has co-authored more than 200 refereed journal papers which have been cited more than 22,000 times and he has an h-index of 70.

Sarah Schafer

Sarah Schäfer

eResearch Junior Analyst

Sarah Schäfer joined the eResearch team at UCT in 2022, after working at the UCT eResearch Office as a Research Data Specialist.

Her background is in research data management and digital cultural heritage, and her career in photography is what initially drew her to discover a research interest in digital scholarship. Her MPhil in Digital Curation focused on cultural heritage in the context of South African museums. Sarah appreciates that the realm of digital curation draws and benefits from knowledge in diverse areas, and involves more than cursory understandings of archiving and research data – it requires theoretical understanding and practical applications of various aspects, including Open Access, data repositories, data handling, media and formats, metadata and research data management.