S.E.T. for socio-economic growth
Prof Carolina Ödman
The winner of the 2020/2021 for Communication Award was won by Prof Carolina Ödman 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. Since her appointment in 2018, she has carried out a broad, evolving range of communications activities, promoting the Institute’s research, engaging with the media, and offering leadership in public forums on issues that affect the public.
The language of science becomes more inclusive
Professor Carolina Ödman loves that we are able to think about the vastness of space and understand what goes on out there using instruments that push the boundaries of technology, all right here in South Africa.
“Dreaming big is a reflection of the spirit of this country and while science may not be as mainstream as, say, rugby, we keep producing excellent science and it is something to be really proud of. The story of how the Square Kilometre Array came to South Africa is a testament to this, and one that opens new opportunities to so many young people; how could I not be inspired?” she asks.
Ödman is the Associate Director for Development and Outreach at the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA), and is tasked with innovating in terms of communication and engagement in the science, engineering, and technology (SET) fields. Since her appointment in 2018, she has carried out a broad, evolving range of communications activities, promoting the Institute’s research, engaging with the media, and offering leadership in public forums on issues that affect the public.
“My goals are to see the youth embrace science as a way to grow, to solve problems, to think outside the box. As we have seen in the past two years with the pandemic, it is science that unlocks solutions to the biggest challenges we face, but not without humanity, and that’s exactly the nexus where I get to work.”
Ödman was nominated for her outstanding promotion of academic research and teaching in science for development, and has made a huge contribution to the multidisciplinary research into building a native scientific vocabulary in African languages at UWC.
“I realised that through our science translation project, where we seek to develop a scientific vocabulary in African languages that can be used to talk about current science topics, that we could give a real place to indigenous knowledge instead of imposing English terms that can confine science to a colonial practice,” she says. “Researching words and their meaning can help us duly recognise and truly integrate indigenous knowledge with science, and does not place it just alongside ‘modern’ science.”
“I love being at the crossroads of technology and scientific research, but with a mandate of development and outreach — the talent that we have is incredible, and young people are shining and pushing boundaries every day.” — Kerry Haggard
Read the special Mail & Guardian supplement about all the NSTF-South32 Award winners.