Biotechnologies in Fisheries and Aquaculture Issue 302

An Inspirational Figure
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
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
Ahlam Al Wahaibi
Design & Layout
Photography Dept., CET
Salim Al Sudairi
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
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
Fax: +968 24413 391
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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