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14 December 2020
Prof Abdon Atangana
Prof Abdon Atangana is known for his work in developing a new fractional operator used to model real-world problems arising in the fields of science, technology, and engineering. He was recently awarded the TWAS Mohammad A. Hamdan Award by The World Academy of Sciences.

Prof Abdon Atangana, Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), was awarded the TWAS Mohammad A. Hamdan Award by The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries.

It is the first time that the TWAS Mohammad A. Hamdan Award was bestowed. According to a statement issued by TWAS, this award is given for outstanding mathematical work carried out by a scientist working and living in Africa or the Arab region. It states that the award can be given for work in pure mathematics, applied mathematics, probability, or statistics. Prof Atangana received the award for his contribution to fractal mathematics and partial differential equations.

Making a difference in society

He is known for his research in developing a new fractional operator, the Atangana-Baleanu operator, which is used to model real-world problems. With this operator, he not only describes the rate at which something will change, but also account for disrupting factors that will help to produce better projections.

His work can be applied to make complicated predictions in the fields of science, technology, and engineering. His models can, for instance, help to predict the spread of infectious diseases among people in a settlement, forecasting the number of people who will be infected each day, the number of people who will recover, and the number of people who will die.

Prof Atangana’s models can also help to advise people drilling for water by predicting how groundwater is flowing in a complex geological formation. These are only two examples of how his work can be applied to make a difference in society.

The award from TWAS is the third prestigious commendation he has received in the past month. He was recently named as one of the top 1% scientists on the global Clarivate Web of Science list. His name also appeared on a global list of leading scientists published by Stanford University in the United States. The list is the result of a study published in PLOS Biology, a peer-reviewed open-access journal.

World’s most accomplished scientists

Honours awarded by TWAS and its partners are among the most prestigious for research in the developing world. They recognise outstanding achievements and contributions to science and acknowledge the best work by scientists from the global South.

TWAS, founded in 1983 by a group of scientists under the leadership of Pakistani physicist and Nobel laureate, Abdus Salam, believes that developing nations – by growing strength in science and engineering – will be able to address challenges such as hunger, disease, and poverty, through their knowledge and skills.

TWAS is represented in 100 countries, and of the more than a thousand elected fellows, 14 are Nobel laureates. Eighty-four percent of these fellows are from developing nations. TWAS fellows are also some of the world’s most accomplished scientists.

News Archive

South Campus delivers out-of-the-box solutions

 Description: ' AIO all in one device Tags: AIO all in one device

The AIO device as deployed in an IBP school.
Photo: Elrieka van Dalen

The IDEAS Lab on our South Campus supports learners in 83 schools by means of academic videos transmitted via the Internet Broadcast Project (IBP) and its own custom-built All-in-One (AIO) device. The project is a collaboration between UFS and the Department of Education in the Free State. It includes support for Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Science, Economics, Accounting, and Geography.

The AIO was purpose-built by the team at IDEAS Lab to facilitate the delivery of video lectures from highly-qualified teachers to identified schools. It comprises a projector, speakers, and a computer, which are housed in a custom-made, hard-wearing frame. The AIO is then set up at each school to which lessons are broadcast.

On-the-job training for educators

Educators have not been overlooked, either. UFS was the very first university to provide an Advanced Certificate in Teaching in a fully digital format, the ACT Online programme. It is designed for practicing teachers to upskill themselves in order to better address the needs in the classroom, not only advancing their career, but strengthening their knowledge, competencies, and subject specialisation as well. Ultimately, this leads to an improved quality of education, which has a profound impact on multitudes of students around South Africa.

CSIR joint initiative

Coupled with these projects is a new joint initiative termed ICT For Education. This project sees the CSIR collaborating with the national Department of Education, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and the UFS. For this project, 24 primary and secondary schools in South Africa were identified to promote technological advancement in the education sector. Tablet computers have been allocated and already deployed at these schools, to learners as well as nearly 400 teachers.

South Campus is involved in the training of the teachers and learners in the use of the tablets in the classroom and other educational opportunities. In addition, training for 48 unemployed young people who will be providing first-line support began in March at a school in Thaba Nchu. The course on IT support is structured in such a way that anyone in the community can take it, starting out with topics such as My role in the community.

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