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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

Researchers reach out across continents in giraffe research
2015-09-18

Dr Francois Deacon and Prof Fred Bercovitch
busy with field work.

Researcher Dr Francois Deacon from the Department of Animal, Wildlife, and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State is conducting research with renowned wildlife scientist, Prof Fred Bercovitch, from the Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology, Kyoto University Primate Research Institute in Japan.

Dr Deacon’s ground-breaking research has attracted international media attention. Together with Prof Nico Smit, he equipped giraffes with GPS collars, and conducted research based on this initiative. “Satellite tracking is proving to be extremely valuable in the wildlife environment. The unit is based on a mobile global two-way communication platform, utilising two-way data satellite communication, complete with GPS systems.”

Prof Bercovitch was involved with GPS tracking from elephants to koala bears.

Some of the highlights of the joint research on giraffes by Dr Deacon and Prof Bercovitch focus on:
 
• How much time do certain giraffes spend with, and away from, one another
• How do the home ranges of herds and individual giraffe overlap
• Do genetically-related animals spend more time together than non-genetically-related animals
• How much time do the young bulls, adult bulls, and dominant bulls spend with cow herds
• Herd interactions and social behaviours of giraffe
• The role of the veld and diet on animal behaviour and distribution

 

Their research article, “Gazing at a giraffe gyroscope: Where are we going?”, which was published in the African Journal of Ecology, assesses recent research by exploring five primary questions:

- How many (sub) species of giraffe exist?
- What are the dynamics of giraffe herds?
- How do giraffe communicate?
- What is the role of sexual selection in giraffe reproduction?
- How many giraffe reside in Africa?

They conclude this article by emphasising that the most essential issue is to develop conservation management plans that will save a wonderful species from extinction, and which will also enable scientists to conduct additional research aimed at answering their five questions.

In addition, they are working together on a grand proposal to get National Geographic to cover their work.

 

 

 

 

 

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