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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

Largest group on African continent introduced to Sign Language
2016-07-05

Description: z UFS101 SASL Tags: z UFS101 SASL

The introduction of basic Sign Language
as part of the UFS101 course was a great
success. From left are Susan Lombaard,
Annemarie le Roux, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani
(all from the Department of South African
Sign Language), and Lauren Oosthuizen
(UFS101).

Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

As a result of a new initiative at the University of the Free State (UFS), the largest group of students on the African continent took part in a first-year seminar which included Sign Language.

A total of 5400 students on the Bloemfontein Campus and 1000 on Qwaqwa Campus were taught basic Sign Language by Susan Lombaard, Acting Head of the Department of South African Sign Language, and her team members, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani, Annemarie le Roux, and Nicolene de Klerk.

It forms part of the UFS101 module presented to all first-year students. The initiative, begun in the first semester of 2016, will form part of UFS101 in future and was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Three segments of course

Sign Language was taught in three segments and positioned as large-class learning experiences in the Callie Human Centre (Bloemfontein Campus) and the Nelson Mandela Hall (Qwaqwa Campus). Students were taught about deaf culture, Sign Language theory, as well as how to sign their names, exchange pleasantries, and have a basic conversation.

A valuable skill to have

“It (the Sign Language experience) was very interesting and helpful,” said one of the students. “It is important to have the ability to communicate with all sorts of people, and to be able to help them in a crisis”. According to another, it sparked an interest in Sign Language. “It is a skill I will continue to use and try to learn more from it,” said a third.

Lombaard – in collaboration with the UFS101 team – will be presenting a paper related to this achievement at the DeafNet Africa Conference in Johannesburg, from 26 to 30 September 2016.

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