College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

International Mathematical Fellowship Award for PhD Candidate

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Mr Abd-semii’ Oluwatosin-Enitan Owolabi, a PhD candidate in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS) has received the International Mathematical Union (IMU) Breakout Graduate Fellowship Award, one of three awardees pursuing mathematical doctoral studies in the developing world.

Supervised by UKZN’s Professor Oluwatosin Tope Mewomo, Owolabi’s PhD research involves further investigation of the split generalised mixed equilibrium problem, monotone inclusion problem and fixed point problem in Hilbert and Banach spaces. Hoping to expand, generalise and improve existing results in this area and produce new knowledge in mathematical sciences, Owolabi chose this topic as very few researchers have worked on the problem.

The three-year Fellowship from the IMU supports PhD candidates in their research and is made possible by donations from winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, with support from the IMU and Friends of the IMU. It recognises highly motivated and mathematically talented students who aim to pursue a career in research and teaching mathematics, thereby extending the benefits of the Fellowship to their home countries.

Owolabi is the second PhD student under Mewomo’s supervision to receive the award through his supervisor’s nomination; the first was Dr Adeolu Taiwo, now a postdoctoral researcher at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

‘I am proud that two of my PhD students are recipients of this Fellowship,’ said Mewomo. ‘This is indeed a great achievement for the School, the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, and UKZN.’

‘I feel very glad receiving this prestigious award which is highly competitive,’ said Owolabi. ‘It provides motivation for my future ambition.’ He added that the award enables highly qualified researchers to publicise their research, thereby promoting mathematical sciences that are key to advancing science and technology in Africa.

Owolabi completed his bachelors’ degree with first-class honours at the University of Ilorin in his home country of Nigeria before proceeding to complete his master’s at UKZN, drawn to the University by its reputation as one of the best universities on the continent, the prospect of assisting with teaching, and its supportive and conducive learning environment for postgraduate students. He graduated with his master’s summa cum laude.

After completing his PhD, Owolabi is aiming at a career in academia, hoping to lecture and develop his professional and research skills to eventually attain a professorship in his area of specialisation at a research-oriented institution. He aspires to contribute to the growth of mathematics in society, and impart knowledge of the subject to students.

Owolabi acknowledged his parents, wife and siblings for their support and encouragement, and expressed gratitude to Mewomo for his support throughout his postgraduate studies.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied