The Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS), USP staff members officially farewelled distinguished Professor, and long-term former Director of IAS Professor Bill Aalbersberg on Friday, 25 November 2016. Professor Bill Aalbersberg officially became the Director of IAS in 1999 but had been managing the Food Unit of the Institute for a few years prior to that. A Professor of Natural Products Chemistry, he had worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sigatoka, and later on a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry for the University of California, Berkley. His areas of Research experience covers a wide range of science disciplines particularly in Chemical and Biological Activity of South Pacific Medicinal Plants and Marine Organisms, Environmental Chemistry (Climate change, ozone depletion, marine pollution, coral reef degradation, environmental impact assessment, community-based environmental management) & Food Nutrients and Toxins Analysis.
Professor Bill’s achievements as the Director of IAS included the establishment of the following:
- First full service internationally accredited laboratory in the region – accredited for Food, Water & Environment physical, chemical & microbiological tests
- Establishment of the Centre of excellence in taxonomy and ecology at Herbarium
- Establishment of the Centre of excellence in biodiversity development and conservation
- One of six regional UN global centers of analysis of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention
- Food nutrients and safety centres of excellence (e.g. development of Pacific Islands Food Composition Tables)
- High caliber staff whose skills are continually being developed
- IAS’s increased visibility and engagement in the region
Professor Bill, a recipient of many international research funding awards has over 150 publications in key scientific research areas and has mentored and supervised various Masters & PhD students who have gone on to leadership roles in their area of work. He was also on the Editorial Board of numerous publications journals and Head of numerous Government committees on Biodiversity, Trade and Standards & Food and Nutrition. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Local Managed Marine Area Network as well as the setting up of the Integrated Coastal Management Framework in Fiji.
Mr Tuiwawa, the Curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium at IAS stated that Bill was a brilliant mentor who encouraged the pursuit of excellence in the areas of biodiversity and conservation research. The Environment Unit Manager, Dr Iso Koroivulavula echoed similar sentiments stating that Professor Bill was passionate about applying scientific knowledge in community work that focusses on improving the livelihoods of people in the region.
Dr Johann Poinapen, the current Director, IAS said that Professor Bill had set milestones in the University and the region that IAS will continue to strive to enhance its standing as a scientific services provider in the region that supports that promotion of improving the livelihoods of people in the region.
Professor Bill thanked the staff for their support during his leadership and said that even though he was leaving Fiji, he does not consider himself fully retired from IAS as he will continue to be a Consultant and Project Advisor for the Institute.