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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

Statement by Judge Faan Hancke, Chairperson of the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS)
2008-03-08

The Council of the University of the Free State today (Friday, 7 March 2008) unanimously condemned the offensive and racist Reitz video in the strongest possible terms.

Council further labeled the video as an insult to women, to older persons and to poor working people who are defenseless and vulnerable and expressed its disgust at the action of the students concerned.

Council also apologised unreservedly and sincerely to the five UFS employees who were shown in the video and offered all emotional and counselling assistance necessary as well as in the current criminal matter under way or possible civil action they may undertake.

At the same time the university must also provide counseling to current first year students of Reitz who were not present at the time of the filming of the video.

Council also mandated the management, in addition to the other disciplinary steps under way, to consider the possibility of closure and of conversion of Reitz into a beacon of transformation, hope and liberation (either as a residence or in some other form).

This must take place in accordance with due process of the law to give residents and other stakeholders reasonable opportunity to make submissions so that all relevant considerations can be taken into account.

The Council expressed its full confidence in the management and supported the steps taken by management thus far under trying circumstances concerning transformation, residence integration, the Reitz video and the vandalism of the campus.

It reaffirmed the decision taken in June 2007 to increase diversity in student residences and recommitted the UFS to implement the policy.

The Council condemns all forms of racism and committed itself to eradicate racism and racial prejudice in any form and from any quarter on the UFS campus.

The meeting also approved the appointment of an external expert agency to assist the university in:

  • understanding and identifying the current challenges relating to the implementation of the integration policy 
  • supporting the university management and making recommendations on how to enhance the process of implementation

The intention is to provide additional capacity to the management in order to accelerate the transformation and integration process.

It called on management to take firm action against any staff or student who violates the law, is involved in threats, racism, disruptions, intimidation and vandalism and condemned these actions in the strongest possible terms.

The Council reassured all staff, students, parents and other stakeholders that firm action will be taken against persons who are guilty of disorderly conduct, intimidation, disruption or similar actions with the full force of the law.

The management was requested to maintain law and order so as to create a conducive environment in which academic excellence can be furthered. The Council appreciates the steps that have been taken in this regard.

The Council supported a management initiative to investigate the fundamental issues underlying many of the current problems in residences, including:

  • residence culture, including initiation, as well as race, racialism and racism
  • alcohol and drug abuse role,
  • place, organisation and management of residences constitution of student structures
  • and the role of political parties in student politics and structures
  • the physical structure of residences as part of a campus accommodation strategy

The Council agreed that social cohesion and racial tolerance will be highlighted as a strong theme in the academic cluster initiatives of the UFS and that management should find additional ways to strengthen existing programmes regarding diversity on the campus among all staff and students.

The Council called on all stakeholders to honour the high values of the Constitution of the country, to maintain these values and to further them in an orderly and peaceful environment.

Media Release
Issued by: Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 3422
Cell: 072 207 8334
E-mail: fishera.stg@ufs.ac.za
7 March 2008

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