TWAS Vice President for the Arab Region, Professor Mohammad Ahmad Hamdan from Jordan passed away on 4 February. Hamdan, a native of Jaffa, was elected to TWAS in 1988, five years after the Academy's birth.
Hamdan earned his BSc in mathematics at Cairo University (1957); soon afterwards, he started his career as a teacher of mathematics at Amman Teacher Training College. In 1963, he obtained his PhD in mathematical statistics from Sydney University.
He was an esteemed mathematician: during his scientific career he focused on a branch of statistics called estimation theory, as well as on the concept of distributions in probability theory. For his scientific achievements he was invited as a keynote speaker in numerous international conferences to deliver lectures in the areas of mathematics, mathematical statistics, education and higher education.
His profound dedication to science was coupled to an equally deep commitment towards TWAS's goals and mission. During the whole Academy's life he participated in many TWAS General Meetings & Conferences, offering precious advice on issues of critical importance for the Academy, and supporting science and innovation in developing countries.
In Jordan, he served as Minister of Education and Higher Education and Scientific Research, and as Secretary General, Higher Council for Science and Technology. He was also President and Founding Member of the Yarmouk University, of the Jordanian state-run Hashemite University and of the Arab Open University.
His commitment to the cause and mission of TWAS in sustaining scientific capacity building in the developing world was admirable. From 2016-2018 he served as TWAS vice president for the Arab Region, and was re-elected for the 2019-2022 term. He also sat in the advisory committee on fundraising, for the term 2019-2022.
"Professor Mohammad Hamdan was one of the most accomplished mathematicians in the Arab world. He made significant contributions to scientific research, science education and science policy in his own country, Jordan, and throughout the Arab region," said TWAS's President Mohamed H.A. Hassan.
He continued by stating: "He was one of the most illustrious supporters of TWAS and served the Academy with great dedication and distinction, both as council member and as vice president, a position he held for several years until he passed away. He will be sorely missed by all of us in TWAS and throughout the developing world."
Early in 2018, under TWAS's umbrella, Hamdan was involved in an initiative called Science International. Four partners – TWAS and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) from Trieste, Italy; the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), from Paris, France led discussions on the issue of displaced scientists. On that occasion, Science International created a North-South leadership group, and Professor Hamdan was invited as distinguished member.
Later in 2018, ICSU and ISSC merged to become the International Science Council.
A few months before his passing, in December 2019, Prof. Hamdan permanently linked his name to TWAS's, endowing a large sum to the Academy, to establish a prize in his name, making his donation the single largest by a TWAS Fellow. "This clearly reflects his true commitment to the cause and mission of TWAS in sustaining scientific capacity building in the developing world," said TWAS's Executive Director Professor Romain Murenzi.
Every two years an award of USD 5,000 will be given to a mathematical scientist working and living in Africa or the Arab region. "Through this generous gesture, his name will always be linked to TWAS," Murenzi said.