18 May 2020

Renowned for research
Media Title: The Star
Section: Star Two
Finding solutions is at the core of UKM's mission to improve lives.

UNIVERSITI Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) prides itself on impactful and beneficial research. The varsity has produced many outstanding alumni who have contributed to important research in many fields over the past 30 years. Research should never be con- fined to the walls of academia, said UKM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Ir Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor. "Research findings should be relevant to the nation and society so that it can benefit and provide direct impact to the community and industry. "In as much as we can, we hope to tie up UKM research with our partners, be it industry, NGO or other government agencies. "We also want our researchers to venture into international research collaborations," said Prof Hamdi. UKM deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Wahab Mohamad said UKM's research is centred on five pillars, namely Frontier and Digital Technology, Advanced Health and Well-being, Social and Economic Transformation, Sustainable Resources, Environment and Smart Living and Heritage and Civil Society. "UKM is proud that our researchers are actively involved in high-impact publications of journals, papers and books. "But more importantly our researchers were among the most active in engaging with the govern- ment and communities," said Prof Abdul Wahab. UKM works actively with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the local community, supported by organisations such as the Sime Darby Foundation, CIMB Foundation, Hasanah Foundation and Exxonmobil, he added. "We recognise that a university has an important role to play in nation building. "Apart from producing graduates of calibre, we also need to produce research output which is relevant and impactful to the society and community. "Otherwise the university will become irrelevant," he said, adding that UKM's Langkawi research centre had contributed to the local geopark being named Southeast Asia's first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Global Geopark.The UKM-Yayasan Sime Darby Research Chair on Zero Waste Technology collaboration has been active in promoting the use of zero waste technology in the palm oil industry. Prof Abdul Wahab added that UKM is collaborating with CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd to create a learn- ing ecosystem for indigenous children in Pos Gob, Kelantan, which also emphasised their health. In arts and humanities, UKM Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities dean Prof Dr Hazita Azman said UKM was a leader in several areas such as geopolitics, literacy and language acquisition in multilingual societies, health communication and strategic communication policies, strategic international diplomacy and human security, and Malay culture and civilisation. "In 50 years we have grown in research significance and have been acknowledged for our contributions in developing new ideas, resolving societal concerns and formulating pivotal national and inter- national policies," she said. Most researchers in the humanities usually struggle to get large grants, Prof Hazita said, but UKM has always strived to promote its science and humanities departments, which forms almost 60% of its makeup. Past achievements, Prof Hazita said, includes their research in strategic communication and trauma counselling for grieving families during the MH370 tragedy in 2014. In the field of medicine, UKM also had a long history of research achievements, said Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Dr Raja Affendi Raja Ali. This began in 1988, when the var- sity provided clinical expertise to Prof Datuk Dr Mahmud Mohd Nor, the first Malaysian surgeon to successfully separate a set of conjoined twins. "The Faculty of Medicine upholds professionalism, transparency and integrity in conducting research," he said, adding they have a human and animal ethics committee to ensure strict professional integrity. Multiple patents, including a natural supplement preventing metabolic syndrome, were obtained by a bone and osteoporosis research team led by Prof Dr Ima Nirwana Soelaiman. Currently, the faculty is focused on researching the Covid-19 pandemic. They are also conducting studies to look into the fundamental aspect of the virus with ACE2 receptors, the virus' psychological effect and the development of a GPS system to track Covid-19 patients. He added that they were also looking into using drones to trans- port healthcare supplies to hard-to- reach rural communities.There are many other clinical and basic research in the fields of neuroscience, rhinology, pulmonology and more, he said.
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