Ms Palesa Nombula is a young professional at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)/Square Kilometre Array (SKA) where she works under the commercialisation team as part of SKA Young professional development programme (YPDP) and is concurrently enrolled for an MSc in Astrophysics at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Her Masters project is entitled; Cleaning the HI Intensity mapping signal with Machine learning.
She attained a BSc Physics and Mathematics at University of South Africa (UNISA), this came after having been initially enrolled at University of Cape Town (UCT) for a BSc in Astrophysics but was unsuccessful due to family bereavements and depression.
Ms Nombula has been honing her leadership role from a young age which is evident in herb eing the first junior Speaker of the Johannesburg City Council. Furthermore, while pursuing her undergraduate studies at UNISA, she engaged with young students by tutoring and coordinating grade 11 Physics and Mathematics classes at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Science Centre (UJSSC).
She has been a recipient of various awards which include the NASSP bursary and the NRF Freestanding Scholarship. In 2017, She was one of the top 15 recipients of the prestigious Posco Africa Fellowship award at Honours level in Astrophysics at UCT. She was also awarded the SKA bursary as part of the SKA YPDP and received a bursary under the wing of the UWC Center of Radio Cosmology.
Ms Nombula, as the only black women in her Masters in Cosmology and YPDP 2018 intake i,ntends to use her platforms to open doors of opportunity to Africa in becoming part of the global science and development. She is also in the process of setting up outreach programmes which will enable her to inspire young people to be resilient and work hard to achieve their dreams.