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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

The UFS issues a statement regarding the outcome of recent court case
2014-09-15

A significant number of reports appeared in the media the past week regarding this alleged attack, which happened on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS on 17 February 2014.

Although the senior leadership of the UFS is always in favour of good and objective journalism, we find it unfortunate that some of the facts are reported in a misleading and/or inaccurate way by some of the local media.

It is important to us that the true facts are stated. Not only for the sake of those involved, but also for our staff, students, alumni and other important stakeholders.

Here are the facts:

1.    The university was not the complainant. The alleged incident was reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) by the victim, Muzi Gwebu, and the charges were laid by the State.

2.    At no point did the university management in any of its public statements describe this incident as a case of racism; not once. Charges of racism, then and now, must be proven, not assumed to be true simply because someone alleges racism. That is our standard approach, then and now.

3.    Cobus Muller and Charl Blom were suspended by the university, not expelled – pending the results of the court case. Emotions were running high among members of the student body and, on grounds of the evidence available to the university management at the time, as well as concerns for student and campus safety, they were suspended pending the outcome of a court hearing. This is normal procedure. Suspension does not mean you are guilty; it means you have a case to answer, either according to the university's disciplinary procedures or in the courts. For these reasons the university management will not apologise for the suspension.

4.    The university awaited the outcome of the court case before deciding whether disciplinary action should also be taken against Cobus Muller and Charl Blom. In the light of both the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Regional Court rulings, the university management subsequently decided to lift the suspensions of both Muller and Blom from all campuses of the university with immediate effect.

Muzi Gwebu laid serious charges with the SAPS almost immediately after the incident, and the university management believed, on the evidence then available, that the students had a case to answer.
 
5.    As the Director of Public Prosecutions decides on who will be prosecuted and who not, there are no grounds for the university to pay the legal fees of any of the students in this case.
 
Finally:
The University of the Free State will not be fazed by inaccurate and distorted information, rumour and exaggerations. We are still striving to become a truly excellent university, with a focus on the academic, but also the human development of our students.

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Tel: +27 (0) 51 401 2584 | +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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