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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

When you are deaf, you have to work very hard to join in the conversation
2014-09-11

 

Dr Magteld Smith

A researcher at the University of the Free State is part of an overseas audiological breakthrough, after receiving a newly developed cochlear implant processor.

Dr Magteld Smith, researcher at the University of the Free State’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology, is the first South African to receive the Rondo cochlear implant processor from Med-El in Austria, manufacturers of cochlear implants and audiology-assisting appliances.

In the field of cochlear implants, the Rondo device is very advanced in the sense that the single-unit device is wireless and easily adapts to the sound of various environments (i.e. nature, conference halls, planes and phones). It also enables the receiver of a cochlear implant to hear more than one sound at a time – something that wasn’t previously possible.

Dr Smith tells about the meaning of the device in just a short time: “For the first time I can take a walk with my dog and hear both our footsteps on the gravel of the dirt road. I can hear my own footsteps, as well as the chirping of three different birds. All at the same time.”

Dr Smith, who is currently devoting her research to the medical-social model of the global organisation, International Classification of Functioning, Disabilities and Health, as well as research in all fields of deafness, relates the anxiety, frustration and depression which formed part of her daily existence. It also complicated and undermined her academic participation.

“Deafness is very traumatic. When you are deaf, you have to work so much harder to compete in a hearing world and to join in the conversation. Because of your deafness you become anxious about misunderstandings in the workplace.”

Dr Smith is working hard and constantly not to take a back seat in the academy due to her deafness. On completion of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship programme, she received a certificate signed by the American president, Barack Obama, and was named as one of the top three researchers among 400 researchers from 192 countries. Only two South Africans are selected every year by the American State and International Institute for Education. 
 
In June this year, she delivered a presentation of her work and research at the 13th International Conference on Cochlear Implants in Munich, Germany. In July this year, she delivered a presentation at the 5th International Conference for Global Hearing Health. In August she was awarded a scholarship from the Golden Key International Honour Society for outstanding scholastic proficiency and academic merit.

“As a child, my parents were told that I was ineducably disabled. Today, I am grateful for the endless speech therapy since my toddler days, and to my dear mother, Jo, and late father, Chris Boshoff, and their firm belief in God which made them believe in me as a person with a congenital deafness. I am grateful for their unconditional love, endless patience, encouragement and support through my long journey in a competitive hearing world. This, together with the help of technology, enabled me to make a significant contribution to the academic world. Everything in my life is undeserved grace, pure kindness.” 
 
 

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