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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 science of translation

What is the relationship between a translator, information, and an audience? Professor Christiane Nord explored the connection in a series of lectures hosted by the Linguistics and Language Practice Department and the Department of Hebrew of the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus.

Since 2007, the professor for Translation Studies has been a research associate and professor extraordinary in the department, assisting translation and interpreting students in gaining a global perspective on their disciplines.

The world-renowned German scholar and trained translator for Spanish and English is also an author, with over 200 published articles on the so-called Skopos Theory, which formed the basis of the lectures on 7 and 8 September 2015. The addresses were centered on the functionality and limitations of translations.

Translation as a purposeful activity

According to Prof Nord, all translations should be geared towards conveying messages which the audience understands. This communicative purpose involves taking into consideration the cultural background of the recipient.

As a seasoned practitioner, Prof Nord has been guided by Skopos Theory in her teaching endeavours. Hence her firm stance: “If you do not have a theory, you cannot justify your translational decisions.”

Within the context of the Skopos Theory, she explains that, in order to produce a functional translation, the translator must analyse the purpose of the translated text, which includes the questions for whom, when, where, and through which medium will it reach the intended audience.

How to deal with doubt in functional translation

“Doubt is something we are accompanied by when we’re translating.” Such doubt may be caused by “insufficient proficiency with regards to source and target languages and cultures, domain and terminological knowledge, and knowledge in translation theory and methodology,” said Prof Nord. However, the top-down approach offers a solution to overcome uncertainty, at least to some extent. This approach considers, first and foremost, the target audience for which the translation is tailored. Based on this consideration, the translator is able to determine the approach that is most suitable for the audience, hence eliminating doubt.

In sum, the extraordinary professor asserted that there are no rules for translation, contrary to popular belief. According to Prof Nord, the main focus of a translator or interpreter should be to produce texts in the target language and culture which meet the requirements of the translation brief set by the client or commissioner.

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