Professor Abba B Gumel, Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Pretoria (UP), recently had the honour of delivering the annual American Mathematical Society (AMS) Einstein Public Lecture in Mathematics for 2021. Titled ‘Mathematics of infectious diseases’, Prof Gumel’s online lecture was well attended by mathematicians and members of the public from around the world.
The series of AMS lectures was initiated in 2005 in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of Albert Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis, the four papers published by the physicist that contributed to the foundation of modern physics. Each year since then, the AMS has selected an outstanding mathematician from around the world to deliver the lecture, such as Sir Michael Atiyah, laureate of the 1966 Fields Medal, who delivered the inaugural lecture in 2005.
“It was a great honour to be selected to deliver such a prestigious lecture,” said Prof Gumel, who is also a Foundation Professor of Mathematics at Arizona State University. “My selection was in recognition of the major role that mathematical sciences play in providing insight into the transmission dynamics, and control of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases of major public health and socio-economic importance. To be associated with the name Albert Einstein is always a great honour.”
During his lecture, Prof Gumel highlighted the historic role of mathematics, statistical data analytics and computation, providing insight into transmission dynamics and the control and mitigation of several emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as malaria and COVID-19, that have a major effect on public health and knock-on socio-economic challenges.
Prof Gumel advocated for multifaceted and interdisciplinary approaches to addressing the world's most challenging problems, and highlighted the considerable contributions of other UP’s researchers, particularly in the areas of mathematical biology and computational mathematics.
The University congratulates Prof Gumel on his excellent lecture and thanks him for showcasing UP’s significant contribution to the mathematics of infectious diseases.