Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
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

NRF grants of millions for Kovsie professors


Prof Martin Ntwaeaborwa (left) and Prof Bennie Viljoen
20 May 2013

Two professors received research grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF). The money will be used for the purchase of equipment to add more value to their research and take the university further in specific research fields.

Prof Martin Ntwaeaborwa from the Department of Physics has received a R10 million award, following a successful application to the National Nanotechnology Equipment Programme (NNEP) of the NRF for a high-resolution field emission scanning electron microscope (SEM) with integrated cathodoluminescence (CL) and energy dispersive X-ray spectrometers (EDS).

Prof Bennie Viljoen from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology has also been awarded R1,171 million, following a successful application to the Research Infrastructure Support Programme (RISP) for the purchase of a LECO CHN628 Series Elemental Analyser with a Sulphur add-on module.

Prof Ntwaeaborwa says the SEM-CL-EDS’ state-of-the art equipment combines three different techniques in one and it is capable of analysing a variety of materials ranging from bulk to individual nanoparticles. This combination is the first of its kind in Africa. This equipment is specifically designed for nanotechnology and can analyse particles as small as 5nm in diameter, a scale which the old tungsten SEM at the Centre of Microscopy cannot achieve.

The equipment will be used to simultaneously analyse the shapes and sizes of submicron particles, chemical composition and cathodoluminescence properties of materials. The SEM-CL-EDS is a multi-user facility and it will be used for multi- and interdisciplinary research involving physics, chemistry, materials science, life sciences and geological sciences. It will be housed at the Centre of Microscopy.
“I have no doubt that this equipment is going to give our university a great leap forward in research in the fields of electron microscopy and cathodoluminescence,” Prof Ntwaeaborwa said.

Prof Viljoen says the analyser is used to determine nitrogen, carbon/nitrogen, and carbon/hydrogen/nitrogen in organic matrices. The instrument utilises a combustion technique and provides a result within 4,5 minutes for all the elements being determined. In addition to the above, the machine also offers a sulphur add-on module which provides sulphur analysis for any element combination. The CHN 628 S module is specifically designed to determine the sulphur content in a wide variety of organic materials such as coal and fuel oils, as well as some inorganic materials such as soil, cement and limestone.

The necessity of environmental protection has stimulated the development of various methods, allowing the determination of different pollutants in the natural environment, including methods for determining inorganic nitrogen ions, carbon and sulphur. Many of the methods used so far have proven insufficiently sensitive, selective or inaccurate. The availability of the LECO analyser in a research programme on environmental pollution/ food security will facilitate accurate and rapid quantification of these elements. Ions in water, waste water, air, food products and other complex matrix samples have become a major problem and studies are showing that these pollutants are likely to cause severe declines in native plant communities and eventually food security.

“With the addition of the analyser, we will be able to identify these polluted areas, including air, water and land pollution, in an attempt to enhance food security,” Viljoen said. “Excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorous wreaking havoc on human health and food security, will be investigated.”

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.