School of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science

Summa Cum Laude for Astrophysics Expert

Applied Mathematics is not a subject for the faint-hearted, but for MSc graduate, Ms Noeleen Naidoo, it is what she eats, breathes and sleeps. Her thesis titled: Lie Symmetry Analysis of Differential Equations Arising in Radiating Stars, earned her a summa cum laude pass.

Naidoo was supervised by Professors Kesh Govinder and Sunil Maharaj.

‘Noeleen worked on the model of a radiating star in general relativity for her MSc degree,’ said Maharaj. ‘This is an important problem in relativistic astrophysics and little is known about the physical processes at the boundary of the star. Her results have thrown new light on the problem and highlighted the importance of systematically studying the equation of state for the first time.

‘We are very pleased that she has chosen to continue her PhD on this topic at UKZN, and her early results are revealing important trends.’

‘Noeleen was one of those rare students who showed during her honours degree that she would excel at research. She was given an involved project which she handled with great fortitude. She is a natural researcher!’ added Govender.

Naidoo explained why UKZN was her institution of choice: ‘The research done by the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC) seemed very interesting and appealing. The members of staff and academics are also very kind, and this created a conducive learning environment.

‘We live in the universe; it is so vast and beautiful, yet it is so mysterious,’ said Naidoo. ‘Even if my contribution is small, it’s nice to know that I can help to add knowledge to this area, seeing that I find it so fascinating.’

Naidoo has her sights set on a career in research and completing her PhD will be the first step. ‘My research is important as it will hopefully provide new insights on radiating stars.’

Naidoo thanked her grandmother for the role she played in getting her to where she is today: ‘She was always there when I needed support. This past year has been difficult for most people, including myself. There were times where I felt like completing this degree would not be possible. I am grateful and appreciative that I have managed to do so.’

She also had a word of appreciation for her furry friends: ‘I have a lot of pets and I enjoy spending time with them. They keep me company while I do my research and are my best friends.’

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied