the world academy of sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries

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3 July 2018

Hassan named to the Pontifical Academy

For a career of accomplishments in research and international cooperation, TWAS founding Executive Director Mohamed Hassan has been elected a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Mohamed H.A. Hassan, the president of the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences and former executive director of The World Academy of Sciences, has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.  

Hassan, chairman of the Governing Council of the United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, was notified of this lifetime appointment by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Academy. He will receive the insignia in an official induction ceremony, which will be celebrated during a solemn pontifical audience at a meeting of the Academy 12-14 November in Rome, Italy. 

The Pontifical Academy is one of the world's oldest and most august scientific bodies, with roots dating to the early 17th century. Under Academy statutes, members receive lifetime appointments "on the basis of their eminent original scientific studies and of their acknowledged moral personality, without any ethnical or religious discrimination."

"I am humbled and privileged to be appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the world's most prestigious academies," Hassan said. "I look forward to joining the Academy's 80 international members and contributing to the fulfilment of its mission – the advance of knowledge in science and in related ethical and philosophical issues."

Hassan served as TWAS's first executive director, a position he held from 1983-2011. During that period, he guided the Academy through a period of great growth and expanding influence. In the global scientific community, he has a reputation as an ambassador for scientific excellence and international science cooperation. 

Using his experience and diplomatic skills, Hassan has been an advocate of scientific advancement for the developing world, and a driving force in establishing South-South and South-North partnerships for sustainable development. He has also fostered the organization of science diplomacy events, bringing together scientists and policymakers to address the challenges of poverty, scientific development and gender equality.

With a PhD in mathematics from the University of Oxford (UK), Hassan's scientific contributions range from theoretical plasma physics to the development of mathematical and physical models in environmental, geoscience and space science. He has also authored articles on science, technology and innovation in the developing world. In addition to his leadership at the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences[link: snas.org.sd], Hassan currently he is a professor of mathematics at Khartoum University and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Al Mashreq University, both in Sudan.

He formerly served as president of the African Academy of Sciences and is a current member of several merit-based international academies. In 2012 he received the Abdus Salam Medal, named after TWAS founder Abdus Salam, the Pakistani physicist and Nobel Prize winner. 

Indeed, the election of Hassan to the Pontifical Academy has important symbolic significance. It was at a meeting of the Academy in 1981 that Salam and other scholars conceived of an academy of sciences for the developing world – and from that idea, TWAS was born in 1983. Salam was a member before his death in 1996.

The Pontifical Academy (Pontificia Academia Scientiarum in Latin) is an international and independent body with roots that date back to the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Academy of the Lynxes), an esteemed scientific body founded in Rome (1603). 

Today the Academy's goals are focused on promoting the progress of mathematical, physical and natural sciences, fostering interaction between faith and reason and offering authoritative advice on scientific and technological matters. Academy statutes limit membership to 80 elite academicians, all serving lifetime terms. They represent all the principal branches of science and all regions of the world. 

The academicians are expected to attend Academy meetings, and to suggest topics for study. They help to select new members, and also to nominate exceptional early career scientists for the Pius XI Medal.

The Pontifical Academy is a member of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), which is hosted by TWAS in Trieste, Italy, and of the International Science Council (ICSU).

Cristina Serra

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