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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

Translation Day Seminar
2007-10-22

Subverting the West? Engaging language practice as African interpretation.

With the above-mentioned title in mind, about 30 people gathered at the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (FS) in Bloemfontein for a Translation Day Seminar. The day was attended by academics, language practitioners, government departments, students, and other stakeholders in language practice.

Prof. Jackie Naudé, the Programme Director for the Programme in Language Practice at the UFS, gave a short historical overview of developments in research and training in language practice of the past decade. He argued in favour of a socio-constructivist approach to teaching and research in language practice. His point was that students need to be given the opportunity to engage with the complexities of real-life problems, specifically the complexities of the African context.

Dr Kobus Marais, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS, gave an overview of the state of the art of translation research. This meant that language practitioners are agents in communication, not mere conduits of meaning. He argued that translators’ agency implied that they have to make informed choices, the most important of which is whether to indigenise or foreignise when translating. He developed wisdom as a notion in translation, indicating that translators need to be wise to interpret their context and translate in such a way that (Western) ideology does not ride piggy-back on their translations into the African target culture.

Prof. Joan Connoly, Associate Professor in the Centre for Higher Education Development at Durban University of Technology (DUT), took the audience on a breathtaking journey on the topic of oral knowledge. Her presentation showed examples, both European and African oral knowledge and had a clear message for language practitioners: What can Africans learn from the Western mind? Her answer: "Africans can learn how easy it is to loose one’s oral knowledge base. Africans can look at the West and see what the consequences are when a culture loses its oral-based knowledge. Language practitioners have it in their power to consider this possible loss and do something about it."

Lastly, Ms Lolie Makhubu, Head of the Department of Language and Translation at DUT, spoke about enticement in interpreting to use loan words to impress either the audience or peers or clients. Her argument boils down to the interpreter’s attitude towards African culture and language. If Western culture is regarded as higher than African culture, interpreters will be tempted to boast their knowledge of Western culture by means of their choice of words. However, if interpreters are “Proudly South African”, as she put it, they have not need for showing off by using loan words.


 

Dr Kobus Marais (Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the UFS) during the seminar.
Photo (supplied)

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