PIURN Board Meeting chaired by Professor Derrick Armstrong.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) will soon host the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN) following the successful conclusion of the PIURN Board Meeting in Nadi from 30 – 31 October 2017.
PIURN is the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network whose members are all the universities in the Pacific region excluding Australia and New Zealand.
The PIURN Board pledged to fund the Secretariat, based at USP for 2 years from 2018, as per the original agreement between the PIURN Vice Chancellors and Presidents and the Secretariat will be responsible for the following outcomes:
1. An audit of researchers and research activity at member countries shared with PIURN members to support a stronger alignment of researchers across the Network through a Directory of Researchers of member universities;
2. A dynamic website;
3. Seek external funding opportunities;
4. Disseminate information about PIURN and its activities and engagement with Pacific countries and other stakeholders; and
5. The 3rd PIURN Conference to be held at the University of French Polynesia, Tahiti, in 2018.
USP’s major contributions would be to host the Secretariat and continue to provide funding from its Strategic Research Themes initiative to specifically support a number of projects between USP researchers and other PIURN members.
According to Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research, the main purpose of the meeting was to focus more on research outputs that directly benefit the members and to implement initiatives that could produce these outputs.
Proposed by Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and International and Innovation, during the 2016 PIURN Board meeting held in Samoa, such an approach would make PIURN’s existence meaningful to member universities and associated member countries.
At the meeting, USP unveiled four projects led by USP researchers but with collaborators from PIURN member universities, as an example of a meaningful initiative, that implemented the strategy, agreed at the successful bi-annual PIRUN conference held in Samoa in 2016:
1. Dr Francis Mani, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) - Air Pollution in Pacific Island cities: PM2.5 measurements, its elemental composition and bio-monitoring. PIURN partners: University of New Caledonia (UNC), Fiji National University (FNU), and Solomon Islands National University (SINU);
2. Dr Sonny Lameta (Alafua Campus) – Addressing threats to traditional food security and diet quality in the rural Pacific. PIURN partners: University of Goroka (PNG), UNC and SINU;
3. Dr Krishna Kotra (Emalus Campus) – Towards National Drinking Water Standards in Vanuatu: Applied Research and Capacity Building. PIURN partner: PNG University of Technology (UNITECH); and
4. Dr Morgan Wairiu, Pacific Centre for Enviroment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) - Evaluating the Effectiveness of s of National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change in five Pacific Least Development Countries (LDC’s) – The Case of Solomon Islands. PIURN partner: SINU.
Following USP’s example, University of New Caledonia also unveiled two projects that it would be funding which required their researchers to work with PIURN partners. One of these projects directly involved USP as a partner, namely:
• PINANACLE: Pacific Islands Neighbor Network for the Access Local E-databases. USP’s team is led by Dr Baljeet Singh of the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE).
“These research collaborations between member universities are designed to enhance research capacity in the Pacific region,” said Professor Vanualailai.
PIURN was established on the 1 July, 2013, by universities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, New Caledonia and Tahiti to enhance research, innovation and collaboration to better serve the needs and aspirations of Pacific communities.
Members of the PIURN include USP, Divine Word University, Fiji National University, National University of Samoa, Pacific Adventist University, PNG University of Natural Resources and Environment, PNG University of Technology, Solomon Islands National University, The University of Goroka, University of Fiji, University of French Polynesia, University of New Caledonia and the University of Papua New Guinea.
USP played the main role in forming the network in 2013.
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