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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

UFS’ position on student politics
2011-09-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) welcomes politics on its campus. It especially invites students to participate in all the political activities on campus, ranging from seminars and debates on national and provincial politics, and organization within party political structures. Earlier the year, in the run-up to the Local Government Elections, a programme was run on campus with all political parties participating in public and radio debates with students on political issues.

A university must be a place for all kinds of ideas and organizations---social, cultural, religious, academic and, yes, political. The perception that the UFS has “banned” politics is simply not true, nor is it possible within a constitutional democracy.
 
The University of the Free State once again invites SASCO and any other political groupings that have not yet registered to participate in campus life, to do so as soon as possible. It is important to the UFS that all student bodies enjoy full participation in campus life, and that there exists a vibrant and exciting political life on the campus alongside academic, social, cultural and religious life.
 
The Student Representative Council (SRC) Elections at the UFS has been constituted on independent candidacy and non-party-political basis. This is a decision crafted and recommended by the Broad Student Transformation Forum, whose members are elected by students, and approved for implementation by the highest authority of the university, the Council. The decisions of the Student Forum entails that all students can nominate individuals for a variety of student leadership positions, which includes nomination for elective portfolios in the SRC elections, but also within nine sub-councils that hold ex-officio seats on the SRC.
 
The old system which restricted student leadership to representation on a party-political basis only (DA, ANC, Freedom Front Plus etc) no longer exists.
 
This decision of the Student Forum ensures that the rights of all students to directly elect their representatives are protected, and that the SRC in fact represents the student body as a whole and not particular interest groups alone. This decision enables ALL students to stand for and participate in campus politics in the SRC elections, though not on a party political ticket. In the 2011 SRC Elections, for example, SASCO members were indeed mandated by its local branch to stand as candidates for various elected positions, as did other political parties such as the DA Student Organisation, a development which the university welcomes. 
 
Most importantly, the UFS insists that all students participate in university life with respect for the rights of all students, irrespective of their social beliefs or political commitments. The UFS insists that no student or student grouping acts to disrupt campus life or insult university staff or denigrate fellow students on grounds of race, religion, language, gender, etc. This is very important to the UFS as it works to build a non-racial culture that respects our common humanity. Our students must learn that democracy and decency go hand in hand, and that part of learning at a university, is to learn to differ without resorting to a language of derision.
 
In short, the University of the Free State warmly welcomes full participation in politics, as in other spheres of student life, on all three its campuses.
 
Statement by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

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