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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

Double achievement for Prof. Paul Grobler


Prof. Paul Grobler
Photo: Supplied
25 April 2012

Early this year, two journal editions appearing almost simultaneously in Europe featured cover photographs based on papers by Prof. Paul Grobler of the Department of Genetics and his collaborators.

These papers stem from collaborations with Prof. Gunther Hartl at the University of Kiel (Germany) and Dr Frank Zachos from the Natural History Museum in Vienna (Austria). Both papers cover aspects of the genetics of southern African antelope species.
The first paper appeared in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research” (from the Wiley-Blackwell group). This was titled “Genetic structure of the common impala (Aepyceros melampus melampus) in South Africa: phylogeography and implications for conservation”.
In this paper, the team analysed impala from various localities in South Africa to determine the relationship between distribution and genetic structure. The results suggest a clear relationship between genetic characteristics and habitat features that regulate gene flow.
The second appeared in the journal Mammalian Biology (from the Elsevier group), with the title “Genetic analysis of southern African gemsbok (Oryx gazella), reveals high variability, distinct lineages and strong divergence from the East African Oryx beisa”.
Here, the researchers looked at various aspects of the genetics and classification of gemsbok. Among the notable findings is that gemsbok populations on the game farms studied are less inbred than previously predicted.
Proffs. Grobler and Hartl initiated these projects on gemsbok and impala, with sub-sections of the research later completed as M.Sc. projects by students from both South Africa and Germany.
Prof. Grobler has been involved with aspects of the population genetics of various mammal species since the early 1990s, and continued with this line of research after joining the UFS in 2006. Current projects in this field include work on wildebeest, vervet monkeys and white rhinoceroses.

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