School of Chemistry & Physics

Prof Sivakumar Venkataraman


Full Professor in Physics (Specialized in Atmospheric and Space Science), Chair of National AstroPhysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP) – South Africa, Programme Director of NASSP – UKZN, Executive Panel member of different National Research Foundation Programmes (South Africa), Vice President, South Africa Atmosphere Science Society, 2012 to 2016, President, South Africa Atmosphere Science Society, 2016 to 2018, Steering Committee member of South Africa – Space research and Solar Terrestrial Physics, since 2009.,17 Years of research experience in Atmospheric and Space Science and Current interest is on E-learning and on-line repository for NASSP.

Research interests

Prof Venkataraman’s research focuses on atmospheric studies by using different insitu and satellite data-sets and is actively involved in various levels of teaching at the university. He has published about 115 research articles including 6 Book Chapters and 1 complete Book 

  • Studies on middle atmospheric thermal structure and wave dynamics
  • Vesospheric temperature inversion
  • Studies on gravity waves, planetary waves, equatorial waves and etc.,
  • Stratospheric warming and planetary waves
  • Aerosols and clouds,
  • General characteristics of the tropopause and its relation to the ozone concentration and the stratosphere-troposphere exchange
  • Remote sensing techniques
  • Various kinds of pollution measurements

Research profiles

Research overview

Prof Sivakumar is one of the leaders of The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP).NASSP is a multi-institutional initiative aimed at producing MSc graduates in areas pertaining to astronomy, astrophysics and space science. The NASSP model is based on the fact that expertise in these cognate areas is spread thinly and unevenly in academic departments across South Africa and that a national coordinated skills development strategy is necessary to address the issue. NASSP positions itself as a Human Capital Development (HCD) project with two tiers of transformation as focal outcomes. The first tier addresses the overall landscape by locating the contact teaching of coursework components of the Honours and MSc degrees at institutions (nodes) where there are presently concentrations of expertise as well as where there is the necessary infrastructural support; thereafter MSc and PhD students are encouraged to enroll at as many institutions as possible to facilitate the strengthening of research capacity across the country. The node for contact curriculum delivery has been UCT but the need for expansion sees the addition of nodes at University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University (Potchefstroom).

Current projects

The second tier of transformation is a targeted focus on redress by recruiting and retaining students from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions via the Astronomy Winter School and the Postgraduate Bridging Programme (PGBP). These needs arise from the recognition that the status quo with regard to equity is particularly unsatisfactory with regard to Black graduates. The Programme Mission is to empower South African and African students to embark upon post-graduate studies in astrophysics and space physics by providing them with the necessary skills, knowledge and inspiration. By harnessing national expertise and resources and taking advantage of global networks, NASSP is committed to producing graduates whose qualifications are internationally competitive and locally applicable. The programme will promote diversity and transformation while growing the next generation of graduate astronomers and space scientists who can enter and contribute to the South African work force, where physics and mathematical skills and a command of research methods will be advantageous.


  • University of Cape Town
  • University of KwaZulu–Natal
  • University of the Free State
  • North–West University
  • University of Zululand
  • University of Johannesburg
  • Rhodes University 
  • University of South Africa
  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • South African Astronomical Observatory
  • Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory
  • South African National Space Agency
  • Square Kilometre Array (South Africa)