An Inspirational Figure Panorama Raising Awareness on GMOs Crucial for Oman Mind Over Matter Alumni Gather at SQU Department of Public Relations and Information Sultan Qaboos University News Update Biotechnologies in Fisheries and Aquaculture Issue 302 View Point What is in a Name? An institution’s brand is shaped by the sum total of the expectations and promises it sets among a targeted set of constituents - and by how well it delivers on those promises. In the era of internationalization and completion among educational institutions, universities sometimes need to brand and market themselves as never before. When it comes to branding or marketing of an academic institution, there are certain key values to be highlighted such as academic integrity; future employability; and above all, the value of the student experience. Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani Editorial Supervision Santhosh Muthalath Senior Editor Sara Al Gheilani Nasebah Al Muharrami Translation Ahlam Al Wahaibi Design & Layout Photography Dept., CET Photography Salim Al Sudairi Circulation SQU-info Branding of a university is never same as branding a commercial organization because the learning process is interactive in the way that buying a commercial product is not. The great learning experience only happens if the student plays their part. Brand identities, such as a perception of a university being a regional hub with a fantastic student life, resonate with existing students while attracting new ones, too. Reputation is the foundation of a well-respected brand. Academic institutions have to make sure the values they project are the ones sought in the marketplace. When an academic institution presents itself before the prospective customers (or future students), it should focus more its core values, such as: academic integrity that links teaching, research and scholarship; businessfriendly courses with employability appeal; and the positive student experience on offer. The target audience consists of parents as well as students. In the process of marketing an institution, the enthusiasm of academics can often bring big dividends. Hence it is worthwhile to involve academics as much as possible. The best marketing material for any university will be the testimony of the existing students or graduates. The highly influential social media can be best utilized for marketing the academic institution among future students. Interactive virtual campus tours or the chance to “shadow” a current student through social media being just two examples. Wherever the target audience of an organization faces a choice of alternative competitors, branding is incredibly important attracting and retaining talent. As Times Higher Education points out, a properly constructed brand is essential for any university competing in the modern global education market. @SQU-info Horizon invites contributions from SQU members of staff and faculty. Contributions in the form of articles, news, travelogues, stories of unique and interesting experiences, encounters, etc., are welcome. Contributions may be edited for the sake of clarity and length. Please send your contributions to [email protected] preferably, as MSWord attachments. Authors will be suitably credited. The views and opinions expressed in the articles published in this newsletter are those of the authors and are not to be construed as the official views of the publication. Horizon is published three times a month by the Department of Public Relations and Information, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 50, P.C. 123, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Phone: +968 24141045 E-mail: [email protected] 20 December 2014 P2 Fax: +968 24413 391 Website: www.squ.edu.om News Update Experts Discuss Aquaculture Development in Oman ture and fisheries, delivered by Peter Prins from Van Hall University of Applied Sciences. The third presentation titled “Production of seaweed and algae as protein sources for aquaculture feed” was delivered by Jacques Neeteson from Wageningen UR. The second presentation by Arjo Rothuis was titled “Shell fish and coastal protection: Innovative concepts from the Netherlands”. The last presentation in this session was about “Linkages between fisheries and aquaculture: implications for research a development” to be delivered by Tammo Bult from Wageninger UR. The College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University, in Association with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Wageningen University & Research Centre, the Netherlands, organized a mini symposium on “Aquaculture Development in Oman” recently. The program, held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor of SQU, began with the opening remarks of Prof. Anvar Kacimov, Dean of the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences. The first session of the workshop consisted of the presentations from the Dutch partners. Arjo Rothuis from Wageningen University & Research gave a presentation about recent innovations in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) from the Netherlands. This was followed by a presentation on “Added value of applied science in business development in aquacul- Alumni Gather at SQU After the business to business (B2B) matchmaking and discussions during the coffee break, the second session on “Aquaculture business development in Oman” was held. The topics discussed included: “New way of animal feed production in coastal deserts (by Jaffael Jovine, Feed Algae Ltd.); the Public Establishment of Industrial Estates (PEIE) (by Hesham Lofty); and followed by a presentation by Al Hosni Investment Company (Ramzi Schuman). The third session was earmarked for presentations from SQU researchers. The discussed topics included: Aquaculture development and environmental issues” by W. Gallardo; “Application of biotechnologies in fisheries and aquaculture of spiny lobster” by Majid Delghndi from the Centre of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology, SQU; and “Risky of ready? Potential health risks in aquaculture in Oman by Gilha Yoon. The workshop ended with a second round of B2B matchmaking and a wrap up discussion. experience and create an opportunity to meet and discuss different topics among the graduates themselves. Speaking on the occasion, H.H Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation said that the alumni day was part of the university’s plan to create a channel to communicate with the graduates and exchange ideas and experiences. “The university is in the process of drafting an integrated data base of its graduates to facilitate communication and provide them with latest news in academic, research and community service fields”. Students, past and present, are what any university should be all about. Faculty and staff are vital as well, but students are unique in that they will forever fill a role—whether they are current students or long graduated. Students, past and present, create the university’s reputation, which relies in large part on how successful graduates are in the real world. This process is selffeeding as well. If a school becomes well known for producing graduates that are intelligent, innovative, and effective in their fields, then its reputation will grow. New graduates will have better job prospects because they went to a well-known school, and the process will continue. Realizing the importance of alumni gatherings, Sultan Qaboos University, represented by the Career Guidance Center and the International Cooperation Office organized ‘the Second Alumni Day’ under the patronage of H.E Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, Vice Chancellor. A total of 2229 graduates who graduated in the years 1994, 95 and 96, have been invited for this function. By organizing this event, the university aims at more effective communication between the university and its graduates, benefit from their H.E. Dr. Abdul Munim bin Mansoor Al Hassani, Minister of Information, who spoke on behalf of the male graduates reminisced the memories of the student life. On behalf of his fellow graduates he extended sincere gratitude and appreciation for inviting them to the great gathering, where they exchanged dialogue and consultation. The minister extended the graduates’ and appreciation to the faculty members who have contributed in building their characters, the university administration which organized the gathering. Representing the female graduates, Dr. Fakhria bint Khalfan Al Yahyai, Head of the Department of Art Education, College of Education, also reminisced her academic life at SQU. She lauded the efforts of the university’s in organizing the event, for which every former student was eagerly waiting for in order to recall many wonderful moments they had experienced at the university. H.E Sheikh Ali bin Ahmed Al Shamsi, Wali of Sohar, recited a poem at the function. The event featured a traditional music and art show, group photo session and a dinner. P3 20 December 2014 Insight New Biotechnologies in Fisheries and Aquaculture have a complex life cycle and pass through many stages of development as they drift for months in the surface waters of ocean currents amongst the mass of other planktonic organisms. Development from an egg to juvenile may take six to twelve months and the challenges for scientists are to replicate in the hatchery the optimal seawater quality and to provide adequate nutrition. Advanced methods of seawater re-cycling and treatment using bio-filtration and ozone are necessary. A focus of the planned research will be on the ecology of bacteria which live within the culture systems and are known to impact the survival of the delicate lobster larvae. Microscopic live-organisms and formulated micro-diets will be used to provide suitable nutrition during the early larval stages. To accommodate the research a new hatchery is under construction at the university’s marine site in Al-Hail. Oman has rich marine biodiversity, including many fish and shellfish species of high value in sea food markets. These include spiny lobsters, which form the basis of important small-scale fisheries world-wide. Commercial fishing however has left many lobster species fully or over-exploited, with their populations in decline. Panulirus homarus, the scalloped spiny lobster, is the main species fished in Oman. It is found in shallow, coastal waters along coral reefs and rocky shores and has a wide distribution in tropical and subtropical areas of the Indo-West Pacific, The main fishing centers in Oman are found in Dhofar and Al-Wusta. With support from the Research Council (TRC), scientists at Sultan Qaboos University are applying new techniques in larval culture, nutrition and genetics in order to better understand the genetic make-up of lobster populations and to develop methods for hatchery production of juvenile lobsters for future aquaculture and fisheries enhancement projects. Developments in Vietnam and India have shown that wild-caught juvenile spiny lobsters can be grown profitably on fish farms. However capturing juveniles may impact already declining commercial fisheries and for a sustainable industry it will be necessary to use juveniles produced in hatcheries. Drs. Stephen Goddard and Madjid Delghandi from the Centre of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology are coordinating a team of scientists from SQU and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth in Oman in this new research. The team is also collaborating with leading scientists in Australia, UK, India and South Africa in the fields of lobster culture and genetics. The research has two main themes, larval culture and population genetics. Larval culture The most striking feature of spiny lobsters is their flat-bodied, transparent larval phase, the phyllosoma larva, which is specially adapted for dispersal in oceanic waters. The larvae 20 December 2014 P4 Molecular genetics The declines in Oman’s spiny lobster fishery have been dramatic with recorded catches falling below 20% of the original catch levels when the fishery opened in the 1980’s. Over-fishing, use of illegal fishing methods and landing of undersized and egg-bearing lobsters appear to underlie these declines in both catch and value. At present in Oman management of the lobster fishery and the setting of regulations is largely based on the collection and analysis of catch data by fisheries officials. However a more reliable approach for successful stock assessment and fishery management is an assessment of all available catch data combined with a knowledge of the stock structure based on genetic data. The new genetic data gathered within this research will enable scientists and fishery managers to understand the sizes and connections between different geographic populations, the nature of sub-species, the movements of individuals between populations and to make forecasts of the population’s evolutionary future. Working closely with scientists in India, South Africa and Australia and using the most advanced techniques for the identification of genetic markers the SQU and Ministry of Fisheries Wealth team, led by Dr. Madjid Delghandi, will piece together, for the first time the genetic composition of the global populations of the spiny lobster Panulirus homarus, and how the lobsters caught in Oman fit into this global picture. It is likely that the lobster populations fished in Oman have their origins in coastal areas far distant from Oman. A factor, which if established, has considerable impact on conservation and protection issues for the lobster fishery in Oman . The studies on genetic markers will also provide valuable information for future lobster breeding programs. Molecular tags can be used to identify those lobsters which produce the best performing offspring. This information can then be incorporated into breeding programs with the aim of producing lobster larvae, which have been selected for fast growth and other favorable characteristics for commercial aquaculture. Benefits With insatiable global demand for lobsters, considerable socio-economic benefits for fishing communities can be derived from an expanded and well-managed fishery. In the future, aquaculture can become a vital part of production and new scientific information will be available to support management plans for sustainable fishing activities. It will however require more than research to reverse the longterm decline in catches and value. An effective system of co-management drawn up and agreed between the fishing communities, fishery scientists and government officials is fundamental to the very survival of Oman’s commercial lobster fishery. Mind Over Matter Raising Awareness on GMOs Crucial for Oman biotechnology and not for commercial or large scale applications in the fields. However, no research of any kind involving GMOs in animals has been conducted in Oman because the technique of using GMOs in animals is not easy. A research on meat contamination in Oman and how it affects consumers have been conducted by CAMs. This does not come under the category of GMOs and it involved lab tests and techniques. National Policies Oman has ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on Biosafety in 2003 and now the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs is working on establishing a national framework on biosafety. This will be a starting point to formulate the legislations that deal with GMOs and organize related activities and capacity building. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) has specific standards on the evaluation of food and products with GMOs. These standards are international which are related to food safety assessment, traceability and detection of GMOs. By: Mariam Al Busaidi Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding. In the Sultanate of Oman, researchers and policy makers are divided about promoting GMOs. One group supports promotion of this industry and call for development and spread of genetically modified plants and animals towards ensuring food security and combating climate change. On the other hand, there is another group which opposes this area of biotechnology without a clear impact assessment with the possible negative impacts on humans and the environment. Their apprehension is based on the possibility that such impacts are present and will eventually affect life on the earth. The group which supports GMOs claims that there is no witnessed negative impacts of GMOs up to date and this industry provide more sustainable solutions with less resources in a short time. Those who are against GMO industry argue that it is not necessary the negative impacts will appear in near future but it could have huge consequences in the future. They argue that without enough precautions, there should be control on the use of this technology. There are three types of GMOs. They are: (1) Genetically modified crops and products with indirect human consumption such as fiber crops and cotton; (2) Genetically modified crops and products that enter in human food after the purification processes such as the extraction of vegetable oils such as soybean, corn or sugar from sugar cane; (3) Genetically modified products that directly enter human food such as bread, fruits and vegetables. GMO Research in Oman GMO research in Oman is mainly conducted by the College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences at SQU. The focus of research is to enhance the native species’ immunity against diseases but not on modifying them, this it is more about biotechnology and not about commercialization of products. Most of the experiments are done in controlled environments of labs and not in open fields. Some experiments are conducted by the college on the production of insect resistant potato by agro bacterium mediated transformation. Another ongoing study on potato is conducted with an imported gene using tissue culture but without any open field testing. CAMS, with funding from the Research Council, has also conducted a project on tomato crops. The targets of these projects are: (1) reduce the economic loss from potato cultivation caused by virus; (2) promote environment-friendly industry; (3) reduce pesticide use. There has been some experiments on banana but not on a wider scope. The experiments were aimed at evolving skills and technologies in plant Meanwhile, there is no clear policy on how to handle any GMOs research. It is more about the ideology of the individuals working on such research. However, an ethics committee has been formed by SQU to set the guidelines for any research or experiments on human or animals conducted at the university, but these guidelines are not for research conducted on plants. There is however national laws on the regulations of food, agriculture, fisheries and wildlife protection and conservation. These laws do not touch upon GMOs specifically but concentrate on the national natural resources. Consumers’ front Most of the seeds available to the farmers in the Sultanate are genetically modified except for some distinctive farms that use organic seeds only. Labeling of such seeds is not mandatory but knowledgeable people can verify such seed from the characteristics of the labels. A study conducted in 2010 on the consumer perspectives towards GMOs in Oman showed that, Omanis have the basic knowledge about GMOs and their general approach was negative on this industry. Their perspective was that GM foods should be controlled and among the basic rights of the consumer is to know if a food product contains any GMOs. Thus, GM food should be properly labeled. However, this study focused on university students perspective and did not take the view of any other group. Conclusion It is clear that GMOs in Oman is facing a lot of concerns. Some challenges are highlighted upfront from the research field and by policy makers. These include lack of regulations and continuity. Lack of awareness among consumers is the most serious issue. However, the main recommendations from the informants of this research were risk assessment, infrastructure development, access to adequate technology, education and research on GMO industry in Oman. This area has a future if the community is involved in the process. Research on this field could get more attention based on national priorities, available capacity and the need of the market. Most of informants have concluded that they strongly believe GMOs are going to establish their presence in Oman, thus the country need to be ready with awareness and research as “Knowing better than wondering”. (The author is a researcher who conducted a study on Genetically Modified Organisms and Related Activities in the Sultanate of Oman as a part of the MSc program on the environmental governance specialized in Biodiversity at the United Nations University- Institute of Advance Studies- Yokohama, Japan. She is currently a PhD student at College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences, SQU) P5 20 December 2014 News Round Up Expert Unravels the Biology of Ageing “Ageing is not a disease; there are no ageing causing gerontogenes; and there is not ‘enemy within’ our cells that causes ageing”, said eminent biogerontologist Dr. Suresh Rattan from Aarhus University, Denmark giving the first plenary talk on “healthy aging, longevity and hormesis” at the second international workshop on food and neurocognitive diseases, organized by the Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition, College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences, and the Ageing and Dementia Research Group at Sultan Qaboos University. Ageing occurs in spite of the presence of complex pathways of maintenance, repair and defense. A holistic understanding of ageing at the biological, sociological and psychological level is essential for maintaining health and for extending the health span of human beings”, Dr. Rattan said. Seven reputed scientists from Australia, USA, Europe and India presented their work on food and neurocongnitive diseases at the workshop and gave an update on the effect of food on mental health. Presentations by students and faculty from SQU focused on the current status of traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in Oman. Prof. Gilles G. Guillemin from Macquarie University, Australia, spoke about natural molecules, tryptophan metabolism and their applications in neuroprotection for brain diseases. The talk of Prof. Mohammed Akbar from the National Institute of Health, USA, focused on mechanisms of mitochondrial dysfunction and tissue injury in neurocognitive diseases. Dr. Prakasam Annamalai from the University of North Carolina, USA, gave an overview of the role of nano-nutrition to improve the cognitive performance in Alzheimer’s disease and reversing the age associated macular degeneration. Ghazi Daradkeh from the Department of Food Science & Nutrition pre- Recognition for Engg. Academician Dr. Afaq Ahmad, an academic from Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), has been honored recently at the Amity University (AU), Noida in India. A memento was presented to him as recognition and awards for chairing and conducting the technical session, fruitful discussions among distinguished reputed researchers from the globe and interacting with students. Dr. Ahmad was invited to attend and present one of his research paper on data security in an IEEE sponsored 3rd International Conference on Reliability, Infocom Technologies and Optimization (ICRITO 2014) held at AU (Noida) in India. He has been honored by the organizers of the conference ICRITO 2014, by inviting him for the photo session with the Vice Chancellor of the university along with the reputed researchers and dignitaries at the conference. While talking about the data security during the presentation, during concluding remarks of the technical session on ‘Network Technologies’ and in between informal discussions with delegates and students, Dr. Ahmad highlighted the uttermost need of reliable and dependable systems. He further emphasized that more pace of research is required to cope the challenges of the fast growing technologies. He talked about the mechanisms for improving system reliability and lowering maintenance cost. 20 December 2014 P6 sented the findings of his research on nutritional status among traumatic brain injury population in Oman. Dr. S. Kalidas from Karunya University, India, spoke about marine functional foods and their effects on neurocognitive diseases. Dr. Qazi Hamed from RX Biosciences Limited, USA the current trends in the rapidly evolving surface display technology which is a popular tool for protein engineering and library screening applications. Dr. Mohamed Essa, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition and Principal Investigator of the Ageing and Dementia Research Group, SQU introduced the guest speakers and gave and overview of the research group and its activities. Prof. Khaled Day, Dean of Research presided over the workshop and the welcome speech given by Prof. Anvar Kacimov Dean of the College of Agricultural and Marine sciences in SQU. Around 150 registered members including academics, technical staff, physicians, dieticians and students from various colleges in SQU and outside, attended the workshop. CEPS Students Bring Accolades During Spring 2014 term, as part of the International Management course, 12 management major students from the College of Economics & Political Science (CEPS) participated in the XCulture Project organized by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA and were chosen as ‘Best Students’ among more than 3000 students who participated in the project. Dr. James Rajasekhar, Associate Professor in Management, who supervised the students in this project was chosen as one of the ‘Best Instructors’ from among around 100 instructors participated in this project. Dr. Rajasekhar said that this is quite an achievement as there were 3000 students participated in the project from across the world and out of that all our students scored top ranks. The students peer reviewed their team members and instructors evaluated all the projects and finally they voted to select a ‘Best Student’. The best instructor was also chosen after peer evaluations by the instructors and vote by students. The main purpose of the X-Culture project is to provide students with an opportunity to experience first-hand challenges and learn the best practices of international collaboration. Working in cross-cultural teams for several weeks, students develop a business proposal for an international company and write a report that details the economic feasibility of the idea and provides guidelines for its implementation. The project was launched in 2010. During Spring 2014, around 3,000 students from 93 universities in 40 countries on five continents participated in the X-Culture project. Panorama An Inspirational Figure Prof. Dr. Salma Al Kindy is the Dean of the College of Science at Sultan Qaboos University. She started her academic career in 1989 at SQU where she became the first female professor in the university’s history, and the first Omani national with a doctorate to join the Department of Chemistry. In November 2011, Dr. Salma became the first Omani national inducted as a fellow of the prestigious World Academy of Science (TWAS). Only those scientists who have made excellent contributions to the advancement of science in their fields of specialization and have attained the highest international standards and recognition can be nominated as fellows to TWAS. In October 2014, during the Annual Meeting of TWAS that was held in Muscat, Prof. Salma Al Kindy was honored for her contributions to science and technology in the developing countries. Prof. Salma Al Kindy was inducted into the ‘Women in Science Hall of Fame’ for the MENA region in 2013 by the US Department of State. Its principal aim is to recognize accomplishments of women scientists as these may inspire girls to study science and motivate young women to pursue careers in science. In this interview, Prof. Salma Al Kindy throws light on her personal and professional life and achievements. portant regardless of the topic. The sciences are an important field of knowledge. Pursuing and researching the sciences leads to important discoveries in our everyday lives. It is also important to realize that science plays a crucial role in the development of any nation. It is a vehicle for advancing the economic value and social wellbeing of the people. Success in building scientific capacity and economy of any nation is attained through the synergistic relationship between science and development. For sustainable development there is no substitute for science, technology and innovation. Early Life, Education I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Zanzibar. Our house was near the beach. I spent a lot of time as a child by the beach. I guess this is what inspired me initially to choose a career in science. I had a curious mind as a child. I always had a natural interest in science. I was amazed at how things worked, natural and artificial. I was fascinated by nature, especially explaining scientific phenomena. I remember at secondary school we were taught by young enthusiastic science teachers who made the subject matter captivating. My passion for chemistry began at high school where I was nurtured by a talented chemistry teacher who made chemistry interesting, exciting and great fun. We were taught to think through problems by applying basic concepts and principles. This is a skill that has helped me greatly in my career. Teaching has been my passion. I was inspired by my parents who were school teachers. My love for research and teaching made me choose an academic career. Advice for Omani Women Although many young women receive excellent scientific training very few are able to realize their full potential and fewer still reach positions of authority and policy-making within their institutions. While there is some sort of progress, women are still under-represented in top research managerial positions. The advancement of women in science is hindered by the additional responsibilities that women are expected to shoulder within their families. They are expected to raise children effectively, run homes efficiently and manage their careers simultaneously. The message I would like to send to the women of this country is that despite the stumbling blocks, progress can be made through sheer will power, determination, perseverance, resourcefulness and ambition. Let’s face it; women do not have the same advantages as men do. True, we are now much better off than we were few generations ago, but we still face a lot of hurdles when it comes to professional inclusion and progression. To reach the same status as men, women must work much harder. They must garner a strong base of education and experience, and blend them with interpersonal skills to get ahead. The message I would like to send to our women reader that it is important to have a balanced approach in life and that they can go on to become whatever they chose to be. The opportunity is there all they have to do is grab the chance. Nobody will give you power go ahead and grab it. It is important to strike balance in your academic life and career and the family life. The secret to success as a career-oriented family woman is good domestic managerial and organizational skills clubbed with discipline, determination and perseverance in the chosen profession. Education and Women Empowerment The number of women pursuing higher education in Oman has increased tremendously. This is due to the wise leadership of His Majesty, the Sultan, in promoting girls and offering them additional scholarships to pursue further education from his own personal funds. Chemistry is a very popular science major at SQU especially among female students. Our best students tend to be female. I always tell my students how rewarding chemistry is, how it gives us the possibility of creating new things, discovering new knowledge or making an improvement of the existing concept. Chemistry touches all aspects of our lives. The acquisition of knowledge is im- Research Interest Throughout my career, my research interest has been in developing analytical protocols for the monitoring of analytes in complex matrices. Specifically, my research area deals with the role of analytical chemistry in solving problems in biomedical and environmental fields. Such an area is interdisciplinary and its focus is the identification or the development of experimental techniques which can be used efficiently and safely to produce accurate results. P7 20 December 2014 Straight Talk Prof. Richard B. Davies Prof. Richard B. Davies, the Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, UK, recently visited SQU in order to boost the ties between the two institutions. Prof. Davies, who has been serving as the Vice Chancellor of Swansea University since October 2003, has worked across a wide range of disciplines including Medicine, Metallurgy, and Social Science. Most of his academic research was concerned with the development and application of statistical methods for the analysis of repeated measurements. He has worked extensively with industry and has also undertaken contract research for government ministries. This interview is based on Prof. Davies’ discussions with SQU officials. panies. The University achieved the highest growth in world-leading and international-quality research activity in the UK - a 207% increase on the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), whereas the average increase in England was 6%. In Civil Engineering we are ranked second in the UK, in General Engineering ranked fifth. Medicine we are ranked seventh in its category. We deliver an outstanding student experience, with research-led and practicedriven teaching of the highest quality that produces global graduates educated and equipped for distinguished personal and professional achievement. Swansea uses its research strength, collaboration with industry and global reach, to drive economic growth, foster prosperity, enrich the community and cultural life of Wales, and contribute to the health, leisure and wellbeing of its citizens. Nevertheless, there is a limit to how much a single university can achieve, and we are actively pursuing an international strategy to partner with other universities across the world in order to tackle more ambitious problems and challenges together. Horizon: How would you comment on the outcome of your talks with the topic officials of Sultan Qaboos University? Prof. Davies: Our meeting was unusual in that there was such evident warmth and a meeting of minds within minutes of discussing the commonality of purpose of both universities. Reassuringly it was also clear that both universities are focused on achieving outcomes rather than talk. Horizon: Could you explain the reason why you look for ties in oil and gas research, alternative energy and Arabic language and translation studies? Prof. Davies: Swansea University’s new Energy Horizon: What types of partnership are you aiming at with Sultan Qaboos University? Prof. Davies: Swansea University signed a memorandum of understanding with Sultan Qaboos University almost fifteen years ago. This visit, however, is part of our efforts to establish meaningful strategic partnership with selected universities from around the world. With SQU, we wish to discuss partnerships in selected disciplines through collaborative research and student and staff exchanges. Oil and gas, alternative energy, translation and Arabic studies, and medicine are some of the areas where both universities can collaborate. Horizon: How would you introduce Swansea University and its academic and research profiles? Prof. Davies: Swansea University has a long tradition in Engi- neering and Science including working with multinational com- 20 December 2014 and Safety Research Institute (ESRI) focuses and grows our engineering strengths and our relevance for the energy industry. Wales is a major European centre for the import of oil and gas products and the growing European interest in shale gas. Linking with high quality institutions in countries where oil and gas are significant both in terms of expertise and resource seemed to be a natural ambition. Exploring alternative energy sources is also a strategic aim of many countries. Already significant research is underway in Swansea University around photovoltaics and coating technologies and we want to position ourselves with partners appropriately. Arabic language has been taught at Swansea University as an extra curricula subject and has proved to be popular with students. We would like to capitalise on this and our expertise in Translation Studies by introducing Arabic language and translation in our curriculum. We are also keen to explore opportunities for student mobility to enable students to gain a cultural and historical appreciation of Arabic. Horizon: What will be the next steps, in terms of establishing stronger ties with SQU? Prof. Davies: Building on the success of the our visit to SQU, we will be working to establish links between academics to discuss mutually beneficial academic and research programmes for students. The next immediate steps include contact from Swansea University Engineering through Professor Nidal Hilal, a world class expert in membrane technologies including the desalination and decontamination of fluids, and Professor Andrew Barron, internationally renowned in the field of Materials Science, who will be visiting with a delegation early in the New Year.