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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

Housing strategy must accommodate special needs
2005-10-17

Dr Mark Napier of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) 

South Africa’s housing strategy must give attention to people with special needs, including people with disabilities as well as people living with HIV / AIDS and those in poverty.

This was the view expressed by Dr Mark Napier of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) during his recent presentation to the Housing Research Day organised by the Centre for Development Support (CDS) at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dr Napier previously worked in the national Department of Housing and was involved in shaping the recently launched “Breaking New Ground” housing strategy of Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. 

He said the changing social and demographic trends in South African society, especially after 11 years of democracy, required more flexibility in housing delivery to address the housing needs of different groups of people.  “For example, there are people who wish to or may be required to be spatially mobile because of their work or other reasons. There are also those communities who are vulnerable to disasters,” he said.

According to Dr Napier, housing delivery faced a number of challenges which needed to be addressed, including:

  • the withdrawal of larger construction firms
  • perceptions of low profit margins in the private sector
  • the slow process of developing an emerging contractor sector
  • access to bridging and other finance
  • the ability to retain capacity and expertise mainly at municipal level
  • the acquisition of well located (especially inner city) land

Dr Napier said the new housing strategy – which is called “Breaking New Ground” – tries to go beyond the provision of basic shelter to the establishment of sustainable settlements. It is also tries to be more responsive to housing demand rather than being supply led.

 The new strategy also allows for greater devolution of power to municipalities in the provision of housing, through accreditation to manage subsidies, Dr Napier said. 

He said a survey of people who had benefited from government’s housing programme had shown mixed results, with beneficiaries reporting a sense of security, independence and pride.  Although the location of the houses was poor and there were increased costs, most beneficiaries said they were better off than before, according to the survey.  Beneficiaries also highlighted the problem that they had very little personal choice between houses, sites or settlements.

There was also the perceived failure of developers and municipalities to repair defective houses or adequately maintain settlements, the survey found.
Many beneficiaries also reported that they felt unsafe in their settlements as well as in their own houses.

Prof Lucius Botes, the director of the Centre for Development Support, said the research day highlighted the Centre’s ability to interact with real problems faced by communities, by government, the private sector and civil society.  “This is how we can ensure that the UFS is engaged through our research with our people’s problems and challenges and enables the UFS as a place of scholarship to assist in finding solutions,” Prof Botes said.

Media release
Issued by:Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
17 October 2005   
 

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