21st Century - Astrophysics

Carolina Ödman-Govender

Carolina Ödman-Govender (German pronunciation: [karoˈliːnaː ˈœtman ˈgo:vəndɐ]) (1973 or 1974 – 15 November 2022[2]) was a Swiss physicist and academic who was Professor of Astrophysics at South Africa’s University of the Western Cape. She was awarded the 2018 International Astronomical Union Special Executive Committee Award for Astronomy Outreach, Development and Education.

Early life and education

Ödman grew up in Switzerland; her parents were Swedish.[3] Inspired by her high school physics teacher, she pursued a career in the sciences. She studied physics at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and graduated in 2000.[4][5][6] She earned her PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she was a member of Trinity Hall.[7] She has also consulted for UNESCO, working on the impact of science and technology in society.[4] She became interested in the philosophical aspects of science; for example, why people are interested in astronomy.[3]

Research and career

From 2004 to 2005 she was a Marie Curie Skłodowska postdoctoral scholar at Universita degli studi di Roma “La Sapienza”.[8] She worked in cosmology on several subjects as dark energy, analysis of cosmic microwave background data, and inflation.[9] In 2005 Ödman joined Leiden University as an international project manager, where she worked with George Miley.[3] Amongst other achievements, this involved setting up the Astronomy for Africa taskforce and leading Universe Awareness (UNAWE).[10][11] Universe Awareness is an outreach programme that inspires children about astronomy, reaching over 400,000 children in over 60 countries.[12][13] She joined the Square Kilometre Array project at the South African Astronomical Observatory in 2010. Ödman was made Director of Academic Development at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in 2011.[14] In 2012 she received the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award for her work on Universe Awareness.[15][16] She was part of the team that created GalileoMobile project.[17]

In 2018 Ödman was made Associate Director for Development and Outreach of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) and an Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape.[1]

In 2021, she was awarded the 2020/2021 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)’s Communication Award,[18] “for reshaping how science is communicated to the general public and in particular research into building a scientific vocabulary in African languages”.[19][20]

Personal life and death

Ödman was married to Kevin Govender in South Africa. They had two sons.[21][22]

In early 2018, Ödman was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.[23] She died in Cape Town on 15 November 2022, at the age of 48.[2][24]


Melchiorri, Alessandro; Mersini, Laura; Ödman, Carolina J.; Trodden, Mark (12 August 2003). “The state of the dark energy equation of state”. Physical Review D. 68 (4): 043509. arXiv:astro-ph/0211522. Bibcode:2003PhRvD..68d3509M. doi:10.1103/physrevd.68.043509. ISSN 0556-2821. S2CID 119460205.
Ödman, Carolina J. (2019). “Astronomy for Development – A story from South Africa”. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. 15 (S367). Cambridge University Press (CUP): 168–175. doi:10.1017/s1743921321000867. ISSN 1743-9213. S2CID 245386517.
Ödman-Govender, Carolina J; Kelleghan, Deirdre (26 August 2011). “Astronomical Perspectives for Young Children”. Science. 333 (6046). American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): 1106–1107. Bibcode:2011Sci…333.1106O. doi:10.1126/science.1196982. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 21868665. S2CID 206529594.


  1. Jump up to:a b “Sharing Science: International Astronomical Award For IDIA Associate Director Carolina Odman”www.uwc.ac.za.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Thebus, Shakirah. “Death of astrophysicist professor Carolina Ödman leaves loved ones feeling profound loss”Cape ArgusIndependent Online. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  3. Jump up to:a b c “Science Honors “Universe Awareness” with SPORE Award”American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  4. Jump up to:a b “Carolina Ödman-Govender (PH’00, DR’03)”. EPFL. 22 May 2012.
  5. ^ “Chapters”. EPFL Alumni. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  6. ^ “Presentations 2019: Day one | eResearch Africa Conference”www.eresearch.ac.za. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  7. ^ “Crepuscular rays”www.atoptics.co.uk. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  8. ^ “CV of Carolina Odman”.
  9. ^ “INSPIRE”inspirehep.net.
  10. ^ “Citizen Science”cosmoquest.org. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  11. ^ Ödman, Carolina (August 2007). “Making young children aware of the universe”Astronomy & Geophysics48 (4): 4.20–4.21. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2007.48420.xISSN 1468-4004.
  12. ^ “Special IAU Prize Awarded to First Universe Awareness Project Manager | UNAWE”www.unawe.org. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  13. ^ “UNAWE”www.unawe.org. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  14. ^ Dods, Philippa (8 March 2019). “Celebrating Women in Tech in Africa this International Women’s Day”South Africa — Meltwater. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  15. ^ “Journal Science honors ‘Universe Awareness’ with award”EurekAlert! (Press release). American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  16. ^ WOXY.CO. “Carolina Ödman-Govender, Ingénieure Sciences Physiques, 2000 – Video”WOXY.CO. Archived from the original on 12 July 2019. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  17. ^ “Making the World a Better Place | Galileo Teacher Training Program”galileoteachers.org. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  18. ^ “National Science and Technology Forum 2020/2021 Award Winners” (PDF). nstf.org.za. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  19. ^ “Prof Carolina Ödman | For reshaping how science is communicated to the general public and in particular research into building a scientific vocabulary in African languages”National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF). 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  20. ^ Haggard, Kerry (1 October 2021). “The NSTF-South32 Awards”The Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2022. Communication Award: Professor Carolina Öddman from the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) won for her outstanding promotion of academic research and teaching in science for development. She made significant contributions to the multi-disciplinary research into building a scientific vocabulary in African languages at UWC. …
  21. ^ “Carolina Ödman-Govender”Ignite – Global Fund for Women. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  22. ^ Shaikh, Nabeelah (27 March 2016). “Gazing at the stars pays off for KZN man”IOL. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  23. ^ “Carolina Ödman”carolune.org. Archived from the original on 16 November 2022. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  24. ^ “Remembering Prof. Carolina Ödman-Govender”African Astronomical Society. 16 November 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2022.

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