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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Fight against Ebola virus requires more research
2014-10-22

 

Dr Abdon Atangana
Photo: Ifa Tshishonge
Dr Abdon Atangana, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), wrote an article related to the Ebola virus: Modelling the Ebola haemorrhagic fever with the beta-derivative: Deathly infection disease in West African countries.

“The filoviruses belong to a virus family named filoviridae. This virus can cause unembellished haemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman monkeys. In literature, only two members of this virus family have been mentioned, namely the Marburg virus and the Ebola virus. However, so far only five species of the Ebola virus have been identified, including:  Ivory Coast, Sudan, Zaire, Reston and Bundibugyo.

“Among these families, the Ebola virus is the only member of the Zaire Ebola virus species and also the most dangerous, being responsible for the largest number of outbreaks.

“Ebola is an unusual, but fatal virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body. As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes the blood-clotting levels in cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.

Since all physical problems can be modelled via mathematical equation, Dr Atangana aimed in his research (the paper was published in BioMed Research International with impact factor 2.701) to analyse the spread of this deadly disease using mathematical equations. We shall propose a model underpinning the spread of this disease in a given Sub-Saharan African country,” he said.

The mathematical equations are used to predict the future behaviour of the disease, especially the spread of the disease among the targeted population. These mathematical equations are called differential equation and are only using the concept of rate of change over time.

However, there is several definitions for derivative, and the choice of the derivative used for such a model is very important, because the more accurate the model, the better results will be obtained.  The classical derivative describes the change of rate, but it is an approximation of the real velocity of the object under study. The beta derivative is the modification of the classical derivative that takes into account the time scale and also has a new parameter that can be considered as the fractional order.  

“I have used the beta derivative to model the spread of the fatal disease called Ebola, which has killed many people in the West African countries, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, since December 2013,” he said.

The constructed mathematical equations were called Atangana’s Beta Ebola System of Equations (ABESE). “We did the investigation of the stable endemic points and presented the Eigen-Values using the Jacobian method. The homotopy decomposition method was used to solve the resulted system of equations. The convergence of the method was presented and some numerical simulations were done for different values of beta.

“The simulations showed that our model is more realistic for all betas less than 0.5.  The model revealed that, if there were no recovery precaution for a given population in a West African country, the entire population of that country would all die in a very short period of time, even if the total number of the infected population is very small.  In simple terms, the prediction revealed a fast spread of the virus among the targeted population. These results can be used to educate and inform people about the rapid spread of the deadly disease,” he said.

The spread of Ebola among people only occurs through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person after symptoms have developed. Body fluid that may contain the Ebola virus includes saliva, mucus, vomit, faeces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine and semen. Entry points include the nose, mouth, eyes, open wounds, cuts and abrasions. Note should be taken that contact with objects contaminated by the virus, particularly needles and syringes, may also transmit the infection.

“Based on the predictions in this paper, we are calling on more research regarding this disease; in particular, we are calling on researchers to pay attention to finding an efficient cure or more effective prevention, to reduce the risk of contamination,” Dr Atangana said.


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