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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

Reverend Frank Chikane honours ‘Oom Bey’ at second Beyers Naudé Memorial Lecture for 2012
2012-09-11

Rev. Frank Chikane and Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS.
Photo: Stephen Collett
10 September 2012

The 9th Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture, a partnership initiative between the University of the Free State (UFS) and Kagiso Trust, was held on the South Campus of the university last week. The theme of the lecture focused on Collaborative partnership for social cohesion: Building of a nation with ethics.

Guest speaker, Reverend Frank Chikane, is a member of the UDF, ANC, Director-General in the Office of the President and a board member of Kagiso Trust.

In his speech, Rev. Chikane focused on the first 45 years in the life of Beyers Naudé, sketching a picture of a man who lived for what he believes in. When this former minister of the South African Dutch Reformed Church and member of the Broederbond, decided to question the morality of the Apartheid government after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, he made some changes in his beliefs and started to play a big role in the struggle against apartheid.

“If one know about ‘Oom Bey’s’ earlier life, you will see how radical his contribution was in turning South Africa from a country on the brink of destruction to a country of peace. ‘Oom Bey’ must be seen as a role model, someone we can aspire to be in South Africa today,” Rev. Chikane said.

“From his legacy one sees elements of someone building a nation with ethics.

“He took sides with the poor against an unjust system. Power breaks cohesion. It makes people not to think,” Rev. Chikane said.

If Afrikaners and black people stood together after the South African War (Anglo-Boer War), we would have talked a different language today. However, they did not. Afrikaners stood together, excluding black people and cohesion between all races was destructed. ‘Oom Bey’ tried to build relationships between people from all races in South Africa in an effort to create peace amongst all people. He was alienated from the Broederbond and defrockedrom the church.

In his speech, Rev. Chikane also said that South Africa did not succeed in collaborative partnerships in terms of the economy. “We need collaborative action to change our economy. This specific failure can destroy all that we have built together.”

“All South Africans can be like ‘Oom Bey” and make a contribution, especially in terms of the economy. To deal with this challenge, we can all contribute. This is important because due to a poor economy, many people are desperate and desperate people can destroy any relationship that we might have built so far.”

At this event, the university and Kagiso Trust also announced the winners of a poetry and essay competition that coincided with this last Beyers Naudé lecture for 2012. The award ceremony looked at the creativity of the learners, how they expressed themselves as well as the novelty of their work. Students as well as learners from schools in the Free State participated in the competition and first, second and third place winners received cash prizes as well as a book from Rev. Frank Chikane for their brilliant work.
 

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