Awardees of the 6th Research Excellence & Innovation Awards at USP’s Laucala Campus with Mr Shaheen Ali, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) rewarded its best-performing academic staff and students for their high quality research outputs in 2016 at a special Research Awards Evening on 10 November, 2017.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP congratulated the awardees including staff and students towards research excellence and achievement.
He noted that compared to 2015, which recorded quality research outputs with 51 A/A*, 2016 had the highest number of high ranked publications, by far at a total of 110 A*/A, with a total research output of 275.
Professor Chandra confirmed that a total of $ $251,017 was paid out for publications for this year’s 2017 event compared to $187,080 which was paid out in the 2016 event.
“Also, a total of $34,650 will be paid out for Patent Rewards, compared to $21,000 in the 2016 event and a total of $35,000 was paid out this year to winners of the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes for Research, while the 2016 event awarded $56,000 in prize money for the VC Prizes,” he stated.
A special presentation at this year’s award was undertaken by Dr Krishna Kotra of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, based at Emalus Campus in Vanuatu, who shared his experiences and expertise on effective strategies for collaborative research.
According to Professor Chandra, the Graduate Assistant Scholarship has been renamed to the more apt “Pacific Scholarship for Excellence in Research & Innovation,” reflecting USP’s quest to pursue “excellence” and to attract more Masters’ and PhD candidates and future leaders of the Pacific.
“With the change in name, we have also increased the value of the scholarship, from $13,100 for both Masters and PhD, to $21,600 for Masters, and $24,000 for PhD, as annual living allowance,” he noted.
This, he said, is in addition to other existing benefits including book allowance and research grants.
Chief Guest, Mr Shaheen Ali, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism stated that to progress in any field of work, one needs to have the right combination of passion, desire for success and a certain level of craziness to achieve one’s goals.
“Your ‘out of the box’ thinking is an essential ingredient to achieving your personal and professional ambitions, as future leaders of our nation,” he said.
Mr Ali noted that in the past, young Fijians had limited opportunity to succeed and with most, if not all, electing the path towards of a desk job, rather than taking the path towards entrepreneurship or businesses.
“Now, the 2013 Constitution, obligates the Government to provide an environment where your research and innovative ideas can take shape into sustainable business ventures and creates jobs.
“In this regard, the Fijian Government has focused on the development of human capital. 21 percent of the national budget or $964.4 million has been allocated to the education sector, this is - the highest ever in our nation’s history,” he said.
He reiterated that research and innovative ideas will not be of any benefit if they are not put into practice in the real world.
“Partnerships with educational institutions, private sector and other stakeholders are crucial to ensure we build a successful and lasting legacy in assisting young Fijians,” Mr Ali noted.
Three (3) USP inventions that received patent certification from the Australian Government and registered under the Australian Patents Act in 2017 were recognised including Braille Slate to Teach Children with Visual Disabilities by Mr Nikhil Singh, Mr Vinaal Prakash, Ms Monika Koroi-Robinson and Dr Utkal Mehta; Aromatic Network for Power Distribution System by Dr F M Rabiul Islam, Dr Kabir Mamun, Mr Krishneel Prakash & Mr Avneel Lallu; and GSM Based Early Flood Warning and Monitoring System by Mr Sheikh Azid, Dr Bibhya Sharma, Mr Reginald Nath, Mr Vikrant Sharma, Mr Abhinendra Chand, Mr Sumeet Prasad and Ms Angele Jacquier.
The Best Research publication under the Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes was received by Professor Maurizio Cirrincione and Dr Jenny Tongsing for their research on Vehicle to Grid System to design a Centre Node Virtual Unified Power Flow Controller and the Intimate Partner Violence in South Asian communities: exploring the notion of ‘shame’ to promote understandings of migrant women’s experiences respectively.
The Best Student Research publication under the Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes was scooped by Shaiza Janif and Gaurav Raicar for their research on the Value of Traditional oral Narratives in Building Climate Change Resilience: Insights from Rural Communities in Fiji and Improving Protein-Fold Recognition & Structural Class Prediction Accuracies Using Physiochemical Properties of Amino Acids.
The Innovation Award under the Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes was scooped by Dr Bibhya Sharma, Swasti Narayan, Afshana Anzeg and Jai Raj for the Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP).
More than 140 staff and students were rewarded for high quality publications (ranked A*, A and B) in the year 2016, with over 160 publication titles being recognised.
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