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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

Research chair into Higher Education gets boost for five more years
2017-11-21

 Description: Prof Melanie Walker, Research chair into Higher Education gets boost for five more years Tags: Prof Melanie Walker, Research chair into Higher Education gets boost for five more years

Prof Melanie Walker, Director of the Centre for Research on
Higher Education and Development (CRHED).
Photo: Supplied

The research Chair in Higher Education and Human Development within the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED) at the University of the Free State has secured funding for another five years. It follows a favourable evaluation by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the research project at the UFS. 

The Director of the Centre, Prof Melanie Walker, says she is delighted by the recognition of the Chair's hard work and significant productivity. “This new round of funding secures the centre and its activities for the next five years.” 

Under the auspices of the Chair, research is conducted on higher education, inequalities and social justice, and how or if universities foster the human capabilities and aspirations of students. In essence, the research studies whether higher education makes a difference to the lives of students, their families and communities. Prof Walker says the Chair's projects look at issues of access, participation and transitions into work, as well as gender, race and social class. The research uses quantitative and qualitative methods and includes a strand of participatory research projects with students.

Prof Walker says through the Chair research project, and the Centre, researchers have developed extensive international links and produced international quality research and publications. “We foster high-quality PhD graduates as a new generation of social science academics.” The Chair has in the first five years produced 10 PhDs and four master’s students. 

The project in the next five years will continue with its focus on higher education and human development research. Prof Walker says all the research efforts seek to contribute to more justice in society and universities and to contribute to debates, policy and practices in higher education and a scholarly knowledge base. 

The Research Chairs Initiative aims to improve the research capacity at public universities to produce high-quality postgraduate students, research and innovative outputs. The assessors looked at features such as the number of students the research entity had trained and how many publications the research team had produced. 

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