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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

Student excels at international level with research in Inorganic Chemistry

Carla Pretorius is currently conducting research in
Inorganic Chemistry at the St Petersburg University,


Carla Pretorius completed her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry recently, with a thesis entitled “Structural and Reactivity Study of Rhodium(I) Carbonyl Complexes as Model Nano Assemblies”, and has just received her results. The assessors were very impressed, and she will graduate at the next UFS Summer Graduation in December 2015.

She is currently conducting research in St Petersburg, Russia, by invitation. She is working in the group of Prof Vadim Kukushkin of the St Petersburg University, under a bilateral collaboration agreement between the groups of Prof Kukuskin (SPBU) and Prof André Roodt (Head of the Department of Chemistry at the UFS).

Her research involves the intermetallic rhodium-rhodium interactions for the formation of nano-wires and -plates, with applications in the micro-electronics industry, and potentially for harvesting sun energy. She was one of only three young South African scientists invited to attend the workshop “Hot Topics in Contemporary Crystallography” in Split in Croatia during 2014. More recently, she received the prize for best student poster presentation at the international symposium, Indaba 8 in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, which was judged by an international panel.

Carla was also one of the few international PhD students invited to present a lecture at the 29th European Crystallographic Meeting (ECM29) in Rovinj, Croatia (23-28 August 2015; more than 1 000 delegates from 51 countries). As a result of this lecture, she has just received an invitation to start a collaborative project with a Polish research group at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.

According to Prof Roodt, the ESRF ID09B beam line is the only one of its kind in Europe designed for time-resolved Laue diffraction experiments. It has a time-resolution of up to one tenth of a nanosecond, after activation by a laser pulse 100 times shorter (one tenth of a nanosecond when compared to one second is the equivalent of one second compared to 300 years). The results from these experiments will broaden the knowledge on light-induced transformations of very short processes; for example, as in photochemical reactions associated with sun energy harvesting, and will assist in the development of better materials to capture these.

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