Mathematician seeks to inspire young minds

Prof Abdon Atangana

A researcher of in the Institute for Groundwater Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Abdon Atangana, has been named among the top 1% of scientists on the global Clarivate Web of Science list.

This makes him one of an elite few who enjoy this international recognition in their field. The list of the top 1% of worldrenowned researchers is based on contributions in their field of science over a period of ten years.

35-year old Prof. Atangana, who has been an academic researcher for seven years, hopes to build a legacy that other African researchers in the field of mathematics can look up to. “For me this is a step towards decolonisation. I never work for myself but so that the African child can have pride in themselves. I want them to know that they can do it too,” he said.

Prof. Atangana has been ranked on this sought-after list because of his cross-fields contribution, which includes mathematics and applications in real-world problems. He is known for his work in developing a new fractional operator that is used to model real-world problems in the fields of science, technology, and engineering.

“I introduced this operator that is now being used in various fields. So the impact is not just in mathematics but other areas as well,” explained the mathematician.

He is counted among a select group recognised for their exceptional research influence, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly cited papers ranking in the top 1% of citations for field and year in the Web of Science citation index.

Previously the professor received acknowledgement for his work in mathematics in 2019 and moved to the cross-fields category in 2020. Prof. Atangana hopes that more learners locally and in other parts of the continent will pursue mathematics in school and even in higher learning.

“Maths literacy is not good for our people or continent because it holds us back. You cannot achieve great things with it,” he explained. Earlier this month, he received the TWAS-Mohammad A.

Hamdan Award for outstanding mathematical work carried out by a scientist working and living in Africa or the Arab Region

Nomaqhawe Mtebele