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Prof Francis Allotey: Meet the First Ghanaian to Obtain a PhD in Mathematical Sciences

Born to a humble parentage in August 1932, Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey became the first person in Ghana to achieve a PhD in Mathematical Sciences.

The renowned professor of Mathematics and Scholar of Nuclear Physics influenced the study of Physics and Mathematics in Ghanaian Schools. He played an integral role in the establishment of the Laser Research Unit in the Physics Department of the University of Cape Coast, projected to be a Centre of excellence to serve the whole of the West Africa Sub-Region.

Academic credentials

Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey received his early education at the Ghana National College, where he became part of the 1952 pioneering group. He graduated from the University Tutorial College, London Borough Polytechnic, and London Imperial College of Science and Technology, where he obtained the then coveted Diploma of Imperial College (London) in 1960, said gajreport.com.

Serving the nation

With a passion for education in the nation, he returned in the same year to take up a lectureship position in the Department of Mathematics at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Whilst at KNUST, he rose from a lecturer to a full Professor of Mathematics and Head of Department within seven years after returning in 1966 from study leave at Princeton University, where he achieved his Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

Professor Allotey founded the KNUST Computer Centre and served as its first director, and made history as the first person to introduce computer education into Ghana. The Faculty Board elected him four times as the Dean of the Faculty of Science between 1971 and 1980.

During this period, he was elected five times as a Representative of the Academic Staff. He was ultimately appointed as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1978.

Awards

He became a world authority as he earned global prominence with his work on Soft X-Ray Spectroscopy, which established the principle widely known as the “Allotey Formalism”, receiving the Prince Philip Gold Medal Award in 1973 for the achievement.

From 1997-89, Professor Allotey was King-Chavez-Parks Visiting Professor of Physics at Michigan State. He became a member of many societies, including serving as President of the Society of African Physicists and Mathematicians [SAPM] and Member of the Executive Board of Africa Mathematical Union [AMU].

At the national level, he held the position of Chairman, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Chairman, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Chairman of the Management Board, Soil Research Institute, Chairman, Ghana Technical Committee on Nuclear Energy, Vice-President, Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, President, Ghana Institute of Physics, among others.

He was also a consultant to several international institutions, including IBI Centers in Africa Chairman, Information technology for development, Williamsburg Conference on International Information Economy, USA Member, UNCSTTD Editorial Workshop in Rome for Advanced Information Technology Trend and Global Implications A discussant and a Member of panel Information Economy Risks and Opportunities, Atwater Institute, Quebec, Canada.

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey died on November 2, 2017, and was celebrated posthumously with the coveted 2017 African Genius Award for his immense contribution to mathematics and science globally at the Second Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah African Genius Awards.

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