Pr. Abdon Atangana: The Remarkable Story of Mathematician

Cameroonian mathematician Professor Abdon Atangana stands as a source of pride for South Africa’s Free State University, renowned for his groundbreaking work in formulating models for phenomena related to infectious diseases and environmental pollution.

Born in 1981 in a village near Yaounde, Cameroon, Atangana made South Africa his home in 2009 with a mission to revolutionize the perception of mathematics on the African continent.

“I’m proud to be named a member of the World Academy of Science at less than 40 years of age,” expressed Atangana in an interview with TV5 Afrique. “If a student knows where the formulas can be applied, it will be very easy for him to study mathematics knowing that he can apply it to agriculture, physics, or chemistry,” he continued.

Being recognized as the most highly cited mathematician globally by Oxford University, Professor Atangana is resolute in his commitment to remain in Africa, serving as a role model for aspiring mathematicians. One of his students, Hanstah Mbah, remarked, “Just by seeing all the barriers he has overcome, he is inspiring a whole new generation of young people who want to follow in his footsteps.”

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Atangana’s passion for numbers extends beyond the confines of his office; he has engraved multiple formulas at the bottom of his swimming pool, showcasing the depth of his dedication. “This is the formula my wife developed, this is the fractional integral I developed, and this is the fractional derivative I developed,” he explained. In June 2023, Atangana was recognized among the laureates of the UNESCO–AI Fozan International Prize 2023.

With around forty published studies to his name, Professor Atangana is actively pursuing one of his dreams: organizing conferences in Africa dedicated to mathematics. The goal is to encourage initiatives like the establishment of an African scientific publishing house.

Expressing his vision for young Africans and success, Atangana emphasized, “I don’t want young Africans to think that to be successful you have to play soccer or be a boxer or a musician. Mathematics, science, and technology are what change and develop our countries.”

Between November 21st and 24th, 2023, Professor Atangana, along with like-minded peers, successfully organized the African Conference of Mathematics and Applications in Rwanda. Despite challenges in securing funding from African governments and international institutions.

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