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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

African historian honoured at UFS Library book launch

Description: Library book launch Tags: Library book launch

The UFS Library, in collaboration with the Department of Political Studies and Governance, launched This Present Darkness, a book by the late Stephen Ellis on 23 August 2016 at the Sasol Library on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Stephen Ellis was a Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden. He wrote ground-breaking books on the ANC, the Liberian Civil War, religion and politics in Africa, and the history of Madagascar.  He died in 2015.

The book explores how Nigerian criminal syndicates acquired a reputation for involvement in drug-trafficking, fraud, cyber-crime, and other types of criminal activity. Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American, and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that “the number of persistent and professional criminals is not great in Nigeria” and that “crime as a career has so far made little appeal to the young Nigerian.”

Ellis, a celebrated Africanist, traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at regional level. In need of funds for campaigning, they offered government contracts to foreign businesses in return for kickbacks, a pattern that recurs to this day. Political corruption encouraged a wider disrespect for the law that spread throughout Nigerian society. When the country’s oil boom came to an end in the early 1980s, young Nigerian college graduates headed abroad, eager to make money by any means. Nigerian crime went global, and new criminal markets are emerging all over the world at present.

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