Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Renowned for research

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  • Monday, 18 May 2020

UKM Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Hamdi Abdul Shukor believes engagement with stakeholders is crucial in producing impactful research.

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 three decades. Research should never be confined 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,” Prof Hamdi noted. “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”

UKM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Wahab Mohamad pointed out that UKM’s research is centred on five pillars – Frontier & Digital Technology, Advanced Health & Well-being, Social & Economic Transformation, Sustainable Resources, Environment & Smart Living, and Heritage & 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 government and communities,” Prof Abdul Wahab stated.

UKM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Wahab Mohamad.UKM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Wahab Mohamad.

He added that UKM works actively with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the local community, supported by organisations such as Sime Darby Foundation, CIMB Foundation, Hasanah Foundation and Exxonmobil.

“We recognise that a university has an important role to play in nation-building. Apart from producing graduates of calibre, we need to produce research output that is relevant and impactful to the society and community. Otherwise the university will become irrelevant,” he said, stating that UKM’s Langkawi research centre had contributed to the local geopark being named Southeast Asia’s first UN Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Global Geopark.

Meanwhile, 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 also said that UKM is collaborating with CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd to create a learning ecosystem for indigenous children in Pos Gob, Kelantan, which emphasised their health.

UKM Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities dean, Prof Dr Hazita Azman.UKM Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities dean, Prof Dr Hazita Azman.

In arts and humanities, Prof Dr Hazita Azman (the dean of UKM's Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities) stated that the varsity was a leader in areas such as geopolitics, literacy and language acquisition in multilingual societies, health communication and strategic communication policies, strategic international diplomacy and human security, as well as 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 international policies,” she noted.

Prof Hazita added that most researchers in the humanities usually struggle to get large grants, but UKM has always strived to promote its science and humanities departments, which forms almost 60% of its makeup. She pointed out past achievements that included their research in strategic communication and trauma counselling for grieving families during the MH370 tragedy of 2014.

In the field of medicine, UKM also had a long history of research achievements, added Prof Dr Raja Affendi Raja Ali (the dean of its Faculty of Medicine). This began in 1988 when the university 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 stated, pointing out that 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. In addition, he added that they were looking into using drones to transport 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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