Who am I?

Dr. Carolina Johanna Ödman (married Ödman-Govender)

Cape Town, South Africa
Swedish and Swiss citizenships


• Science and Technology for Development: Scientific Human Capital Development, Science Education
• Theoretical Cosmology: Statistical analysis and data processing
• Science Communication: Education and Public Outreach, New media, Science Journalism


email: carolina@odman.org
twitter: @carolune
web: http://carolune.org/


Ph.D. Astrophysics (2003)

Thesis: Cosmological parameter estimation from cosmic microwave background and other cosmological data: Application of Bayesian statistics and inference techniques to constrain models of the universe using data contaminated by theoretical and experimental uncertainties. Development of Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithms.
Astrophysics Group, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, UK.

M.Sc. Physics Engineering (2000)

Thesis: The cosmic coincidence problem and complex scalar fields: Development and characterisation of a theoretical model of dark energy.
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland

Professional Experience

03.2011 – present (currently on maternity leave)

Associate Scientist SKA Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. Online communications strategy for the South African SKA Project.


03.2011 – 01.2012

Director of Academic Development AIMS Next Einstein Initiative, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa.

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences was founded in 2003 to give bright young African scientists an opportunity to learn from some of the best lecturers around the world. This has given AIMS alumni great opportunities to join the global elite in mathematics and physics. In 2008, the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) was launched to replicate the AIMS model across the African Continent.

Achievements include

  • Development of an online student recruitment app for the network of AIMS centres
  • Development and support of a number of academic processes for the network of AIMS centres, including lecturer and tutor recruitment.
  • AIMS alumni activities, including town hall meetings and alumni travel grants.
  • Awarded Career workshops at the 2012 Annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and 2012 European Science Open Forum (ESOF) aimed at recruiting lecturers and tutors and raising awareness of AIMS-NEI among North American and European Academia
  • MoU with the U.S. National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) witnessed by Hon. Ms. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa giving AIMS students the opportunity to apply to graduate school at US universities via a web app developed by NSBP.
  • Representation and communication including media contacts and press releases, stakeholder relationship management, invited addresses, e.g. at the 2011 African Education Summit


08.2010 – 01.2012

SKA Research Fellow South African Astronomical Observatory, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa.
Research into non-linear extensions of Principal Component Analysis for cosmological parameter estimation. Co-supervision of an Honours and Masters project. New ways of communicating science to peers and to the public. Videography.


09.2005 – 07.2010

International Project Manager of Universe Awareness (UNAWE). Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, The Netherlands. Function held ad interim between 08.2010 and 01.2011.

Universe Awareness is an international programme that began in 2005 with the aims of inspiring very young children with the inspirational aspects of Astronomy. With goals of broadening childrens minds, awakening their natural curiosity in science, empowering them with independent thinking and connecting them with other children throughout the world, the hope is to enthuse them with science, and contribute to make tomorrow’s tolerant and open-minded adults with confidence to think critically and rationally.

Achievements include

  • the successful transformation of an idea into an active programme in 40 countries with national programmes and governmental support in 6 countries,
  • fundraising, including the writing and coordination of a successful European FP7 grant of 1.9 million euro.
  • the establishment of collaborations with the following communities:
    astronomers (professional, students and amateur), outreach and education professionals and volunteers, Early Childhood Development specialists, the media, creative artists, NGOs specialising in development, International and Inter-governmental organisations,
  • Contribution to the International Astronomical Union Strategic Plan ”Astronomy for the Developing World’ 2010-2020, see http://www.iau.org/education/strategic_plan/
  • the organisation of multiple international workshops and conferences,
  • communication: website design and maintenance, professional and popular articles, conferences, radiointerviews, etc.
  • status as Global Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009),
  • membership of the ‘Astronomy for Africa’ Task Group,
  • development of educational materials,
  • teacher training workshops, international internet exchanges between schools, science festivals and teaching.


03.2004 – 05.2005

Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow Postdoctoral fellowship in theoretical cosmology at the University “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy. Referee for the International Journal of Modern Physics D.


04.2000 – 08.2000

Research Engineer Computational Fluid Dynamical (CFD) Modelling of blood flow and evaluation of vascular grafts. Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.


02.1999 – 03.2000

Research Assistant Development of success indicators for statistical assessment of the performance of foreign students in their first undergraduate year at EPFL. Special Mathematics Course (CMS), EPFL, Switzerland.


10.1998 – 07.1999

Research Assistant Characterisation of polymer surfaces using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for liquid crystal applications. Institute of Nuclear Engineering (IGA), EPFL, Switzerland.


10.1996 – 09.2000

Research Assistant Statistical analysis for a report about EPFL women gradutes. Outreach, conception of a web site as a mentoring tool and resource centre for EPFL students, staff and faculty members. Equal Opportunities Office, EPFL, Switzerland.

Independent Project Work

  • Science Hack Days 2010 – present
    Science Hack Days bring together scientists, designers and science enthusiasts for a creative weekend spent brainstorming science and creating science apps. The Cape Town Science Hack Day was themed ’Science for Development’ took place in January 2012 and the Johannesburg Science Hack Day themed ’Science Education for South Africa’ is planned for September 2012. See http://www.sciencehackday.com/ and http://science.mu/scihacksa/
  • .Astronomy 2009 – present
    Co-organiser of the .Astronomy workshop series. The Internet provides an incredible platform for astronomers and astrophysical research. .Astronomy (pronounced ‘dot-astronomy’) aims to bring together an international community of astronomy researchers, developers, educators and communicators to showcase and build upon these many web-based projects, from outreach and education to research tools and data analysis. See http://dotastronomy.com/ .
  • Sutherland Community Development 2009 – present
    Sutherland is a small town in rural Northern Cape, home to the South African Astronomical Observatory. Since 2009, we have worked to make the presence of a world-class science facility benefit the community. This includes art and science workshops with the youth and the elderly, and inviting prominent figures of South African and international art and science to think of the development of the town. The work is replicable in other rural settings where astronomical facilities can be found. See, e.g. http://www.sutherlandreflections.com/
  • Virtual Institute for dual-career couples 2003 – 2005
    Co-founder and director of the “CIQuA Institute”. CIQuA was a charitable organisation intended to allow dual-career couples to stay together while pursuing academic careers in astronomy and astrophysics. Achievements include one fellowship, the setting up of a charitable organisation registered in the UK, negotiation of the hosting of a dedicated computer cluster at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, articles and conference contributions about the Institute, including interviews in The Times Higher Education Supplement.

Expertise and Consultancy

  • Project Vision for Togo’s Development
    2012: Expert Adviser: Education. See this link
  • European Commission
    Since 2011: Expert evaluator of FP7 funding proposals in ‘Science and Society’.
  • European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
    2010: Benefits of Research Infrastructures beyond Science – The Example of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – Convenor of the Education panel. (Download report here)
  • Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CONGO)
    2008: Background research on a liaison committee between NGOs and the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
  • International Astronomical Union (IAU)
    2008: Contribution to the IAU Strategic Plan Astronomy for the Developing World (Download Strategic Plan here).
    2007: Expert paper for the UNESCO World Report Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. (Download report here)
    2003: Consultant in the editorial team of the UNESCO World Report Building Knowledge Societies. (Download report here)

Professional Memberships


  • South African Science Journalists Association (link)
    Surveying South African science and technology institutions and their connection to the media. See http://science.mu/?p=101

Awards and Grants

Project Grants

European FP7 grant for Universe Awareness (EUR 1.903 mio)
Outreach Work Package for the EU funded SKA Forum (FP7) (EUR 52,500)
SPIE Outreach Grant for a UNAWE game (USD 5,000)
International Astronomical Union IYA2009 grant (EUR 1,000)
European Astronomical Society grant for a UNAWE book (EUR 2,000)
Royal Astronomical Society grant for a UNAWE project in the UK (GBP 3,120)
Extraordinary grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to develop UNAWE internationally for 3 years (EUR 375,000)

Personal Awards

  • 2011 Science Hack Day Ambassador
    Sloan Foundation and Institute for the Future, United States.
  • 2011 Science Prize for Online Resources in Education
    Science Magazine, American Association for the Advancement of Science, United States.
  • 2010 Best Academic Hack
    Science Hack Day, The Guardian, London, UK.
  • 2004 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, European Commission.
  • 2002 Highly Commended at The Daily Telegraph BASF Science Writer Awards, UK.
  • 2001 Girton College Graduate Scholarship, Cambridge University, UK.
  • 2001 Overseas Reasearch Student Award, Cambridge University, UK. 10.2001 Isaac Newton Studentship, Cambridge University, UK.
  • 2000 Cambridge University Overseas Trust Bursary, Cambridge University, UK.
  • 2000 Leenaards Foundation Extraordinary Research Support, Switzerland.
  • 2000 ACube foundation Bursary : EPFL Alumni Association Bursary, Switzerland.

Teaching Experience

01.2004 – 04.2004
African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Muizenberg, South Africa.

  • Astrophysics
  • PERL


10.2000 – 03.2004
Teaching Assistant at the Department of Mathematics, Trinity Hall and Girton Colleges, and the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, UK

  • Markov Chains, 3rd year undergraduate course
  • Statistical Physics and Cosmology, 3rd year undergraduate course
  • Mathematics, 1st year undergraduate course
  • Physics Labs, 2nd year undergraduate practicals


10.1997 – 03.2000
Teaching Assistant at the Institute for Computer Communication and Applications, and at the Institute of Experimental Physics, EPFL, Switzerland

  • Stochastic Processes in Communications. 3rd year undergraduate course
  • Physics Labs, 3rd year undergraduate practicals: Development of experiments, programming of device control interfaces
  • General Physics, 1st year undergraduate course


Other Activities

Photography & Design

Commissioned work includes event photography, advertising, corporate communication, conference posters, book covers, book illustrations, a photo exhibition, the design and maintenance of blogs, online portfolios, scientific and conference websites.

Participation in Art and Science exhibitions:

  • Sutherland Reflections, South Africa 2011 – 2012
  • African Cosmos Stellar Arts, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, U.S. 2012

Aerobics Instructor

Qualifications: Allround Aerobics and Step instructor, Zumba®, TTT Fight®.
Teaching experience: Leiden University Sports Center, Vrouwfit Fitness centers, Leiden, The Netherlands

Extracurricular Activities

Cambridge University
Graduate External Liaison Officer, Girton College.
Graduate Women’s Officer, Trinity Hall.

Student Relations and Internet Officer for the annual EPFL recruiting fair (see http://forum.epfl.ch/)
Organiser of a car racing and University team  (Trophée Ricard 1995)
Responsible for logistics for a European water sports competition (Aquapub 1995).


08.1998 – 09.1998
Novartis Scientific Services, Basel, Switzerland: Atomic Force Microscopy Internship supervised by Prof. D. Anselmetti. AFM applications to organic and inorganic surfaces.

07.1993 – 08.1993
Taylor Rafferty & Ass., New-York, USA: Internship in an international investor relations company. Database design and market research.

Additional Skills


English     Excellent
French      Mother tongue
Swedish   Good
Dutch        Reasonable
German    Needs refreshing
Italian        Beginner
Spanish   Beginner


php, MySQL, Processing (java), CSS, general dabbling

Web Applications
Common CMSs (eg Joomla, WordPress), various APIs (eg YQL, Yahoo pipes)

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and other multimedia applications, Office suites, some video and audio editing.


Harp, general dabbling, relative pitch