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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

Universities now public spaces to exercise citizenship
2016-08-30

Description: Prof Lis Lange critical conversation Tags: Prof Lis Lange critical conversation

Prof Lis Lange believes universities have a critical
role to play in advancing democracy.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

In an attempt to promote common understanding on governance, leadership, and management processes at the University of the Free State (UFS), the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) recently hosted a critical conversation on the Qwaqwa Campus that was facilitated by Vice-Rector: Academic, Prof Lis Lange.

Prof Lange’s presentation firstly focused on the role that universities play, and the expectations thereof.

“From ancient history, universities have always had a critical role to play in the broader society,” she said. “They have always been characterised by the circulation of knowledge and ideas at a global level. They have always ensured that students’ skills and knowledge are properly certified.”

According to her, universities have changed quite a bit over the centuries.

“Historically, universities used to cater for the chosen few, but they now allow multitudes to have access as well. In the early 20th century, women and foreigners, for example, were excluded. How they relate to the society has also changed. They also used to create certain types of knowledge – at one stage this knowledge was influenced by the church. Research is now produced across a large spectrum of human and scientific knowledge,” she said.

Prof Lange also added that universities now even have a responsibility to advance democracy and to respond to societal needs.

“Despite the various tensions and contradictions between management and academic staff, between management and students, and between academic staff and students, universities are now public spaces to exercise citizenship. They provide space for all to have the right to speak and to be heard. They provide space for all to have similar rights and responsibilities,’ she said, while breaking down all the governance, leadership and management structures of the UFS.

The conversation was concluded with a question and answer session, with students mainly asking about internal UFS processes.

The session was well received by students.

“I really loved the conversation, which to me, was about breaking the walls between the management and students so as to achieve the goal of an effective university. We need more of these dialogues,” said Noxola Tshabalala, a BA Psychology student.

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