Prof. Carolina Ödman

Dr. Carolina Ödman Dipl. Eng. EPFL, D.Phil Cantab, Pr. Phys., Pr. Nat. Sci.

This Cape Town, South Africa-based Swiss-trained engineer turned astrophysicist is an Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape.

She brings an engineering problem-solving mind, an academic analytical perspective and many years of experience working in developed and developing-world using science and technology to drive growth and development. In 2018, she joined the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) as Associate Director, Development and Outreach, where she brings her diverse perspective from her experiences in academia, international organisations and in the private sector.

That same year, she was given a Award in Astronomy Outreach, Development and Education by the International Astronomical Union in recognition for her pioneering work in those fields. Trained in physics engineering at EPFL in Switzerland, she also holds a PhD in astrophysics  from Cambridge University, UK.

While living in the UK, she consulted for UNESCO, the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation for their world reports on Knowledge Societies and later on Cultural Diversity. After a Marie Curie research fellowship in Italy, she became the first international project manager of Universe Awareness, an astronomy education programme focused on early childhood development, for which she was awarded the 2011 Science Prize for Online Education Resources from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2010 she joined the South African Astronomical Observatory as an SKA Research Fellow working at the interface between astronomy and technology, which she continues, as founding member of the .astronomy (dot-astronomy) conference series that bridges the technology world with the academic world of astronomy.

She was Director of Academic Development for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences’ Next Einstein Initiative before joining thumbzup, a financial technology start-up as Chief Scientist.

In 2013 she was named one of the 300 most influential people of Switzerland by Bilan, a Swiss financial magazine and in 2014, she was recognised by the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in the Science and Technology category.

She speaks Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish/Italian and Swedish

Honours & Awards

  • IAU Special Award for Outreach Education and Development
  • 200 Young South Africans (Science and Technology)
  • One of the 300 most influential people of Switzerland in 2013
  • Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE)
  • Science Hack Day Ambassador
  • Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship
  • Girton College Graduate Scholarship
  • Cambridge University Overseas Trust Bursary
  • Isaac Newton Studentship
  • Overseas Research Student Award
  • EPFL Alumni Association Bursary
  • Leenaards Foundation Extraordinary Research Support

Organisation memberships

  • South African Science Journalist Association
  • IAU Office of Astronomy for Development
  • Universe Awareness International Astronomical Union