Kevin Govender

Johannesburg - Kevin Govender will become the first South African to receive a medal at the 2016 Edinburgh International Science Festival next month, the National Research Foundation announced on Monday.

Govender's contribution took shape through the creation and practical establishment of the IAU office in Cape Town, which integrates the pursuit of scientific knowledge with social development for and with those most in need.

Under the pioneering stewardship of Govender, its first Director, the OAD has successfully harnessed astronomy in the service of global education and capacity building.

Launched in 2011 by the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, the office is hosted at the South African Astronomical Observatory in partnership with the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the South African Department of Science and Technology.

“Besides its technological, scientific and cultural contributions, astronomy fundamentally gives us the perspective we need to change the world,” said Govender.

“It is amazing to see how this vision has rallied people and organisations from just about every continent. It has been, and continues to be a journey driven by many with a shared passion for both science and society.”

Govender and the president of the IAU, Silvia Torres Peimbert, will be presented with the Edinburgh Medal at Chambers of the City of Edinburgh Council, where they will give their winning address: Astronomy for a Better World in the presence of Lord (Martin) Rees, the Astonomer Royal. Lord Provost of City of Edinburgh Council, Donald Wilson said the difference Govender and the IAU have made in developing countries is astronomical.

“Govender has been leading the Office for Astronomy for Development since 2011 and has overseen the expansions from its roots in Cape Town to be extended to a further nine regional offices in Armenia, China, Columbia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal, Thailand and Zambia,” said Wilson.

Director of Edinburgh International Science Festival, Dr Simon Gage said; “The Edinburgh Medal is awarded to an individual or an organisation who have not only discovered great science but have contributed more broadly to society. It's an unusual award that recognises two dimensions of the work - the scientific and the social consequences. I've followed the work of Govender and the IAU for many years, the positive impact in the schools, universities and communities where they operate is incredible and helping to build a better world”.

Govender, who is from the Cape Town-based Office of Austronomy for Development (OAD) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU), will be jointly awarded an Edinburgh Medal in recognition of his wide reaching contribution to science on March 30.

African News Agency