The World Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1983

The official name of this academy is "The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries" but it is widely known as TWAS. It may look a little strange that the acronym contains a "T" for "The" but originally the "T" in the acronym stood for "Third" as we will explain below. The Academy is based in Trieste, Italy and supports sustainable prosperity through research, education, policy and diplomacy.

TWAS was founded in 1983 by a distinguished group of scientists from the developing world, under the leadership of Abdus Salam, the Pakistani physicist and Nobel laureate. Among the founders we mention the mathematicians Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, Shiing-Shen Chern, and Michael Atiyah. The founders were aware that 72% of scientists came from the richest 20% of countries. A reason for this was the lack of research funding in the developing countries. The founders shared a belief that developing nations, by building strength in science and engineering, could create the knowledge and skill to address such challenges as hunger, disease and poverty. The Academy aimed to achieve this by supporting excellent scientists in developing countries both by recognising their achievements and with financial support. TWAS awarded more than 2,630 grants between 1986 and 2020. An important aspect was promoting cooperation between individual scientists and between institutions. The Academy has strong support from both Italian scientists and political leaders which gave it a solid start and it still receives its core funding from the Italian government.

TWAS was originally named the Third World Academy of Sciences and was inaugurated officially in 1985 during a ceremony attended by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. Initially, TWAS had 42 elected fellows, nine of them Nobel laureates. The name was changed twice: in 2004, to "The Academy of Sciences for the developing world" and, in 2012, to the current one, "The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries". Throughout the name changes, however, it has been known as TWAS. We should note that there is another academy which, although it has the similar name 'World Academy of Sciences', has no connection.

Today [2022], TWAS has 1,296 elected fellows - some of the world's most accomplished scientists and engineers - representing more than 100 countries; 11 of them are Nobel laureates. About 84 per cent come from developing nations, and the rest are scientists from the developed world whose work has had a significant impact in the South. TWAS fellows are the foundation for all of the Academy's work. The present [2022] President of TWAS is Mohamed Hag Ali Hassan, a Sudanese mathematician and physicist.

There is a TWAS Award issued annually in nine distinct disciplines, one of which is mathematics.

Winners of the TWAS Award for Mathematics are at THIS LINK.

Visit the society website.

Last Updated February 2023