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National Research Award winners talk about findings and societal benefits

26 Jan 2021

The 7th Annual Research Forum, organised by the Research and Innovation Sector of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, ended on a successful note, with 12 winners announced for the National Research Award. 

With hopes of enhancing innovation and encouraging research in Omani society, the winners of the National Research Award from different fields have shared their insights regarding their success.

Education and human resources

In regards to international research cooperation, Prof Constantinos Chryssou (Muscat University), whose project ‘University–industry interactions in the Sultanate of Oman: Challenges and opportunities’ won in the PhD category, said, “International collaborations for research are extremely important not only for Oman, but also for the whole world. It is important not only because we transfer knowledge from region to another, but also because that makes other regions in the world understand the challenges that a specific country, nation or a region goes through.”

In the Young Researcher’s category, Dr Hafida al Barashdi (Ministry of Education), one of the members of the research team for ‘The Effectiveness of Using the Course Lab Programme for Teaching and Assessing Sciences in Improving Grade Ten Students’ Academic Achievement and their Attitudes towards it in Oman’ project, added that winning the award for her team meant “recognition by the most important research institution in the sultanate of our research efforts; a testament to the quality of these efforts we take pride in, and a strong incentive for the continuation and development for the better as researchers”.

Information systems and communication technologies

Two projects were tied in the PhD category for this particular field. Dr Hedi Haddad (Dhofar University) of the project titled ‘Transportation Service Redundancy from a Spatio-Temporal Perspective’ maintained that his research team members beingfrom different Omani universities “proves that the sultanate has many capacities that are capable of creativity when granted the opportunity”. 

Dr Ahmed al Maashri (Sultan Qaboos University), one of the members of the second winning team in this category for the  project ‘Cooperative Cruise Controller for Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Vehicle Platoon System’, added that “collaboration between scholars from different parts of the world provides a platform for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences. This of course helps in localising technologies in the country and building capacities in research fields”.

Environmental and biological resources

The award in this PhD category went to ‘Enhanced power generation and desalination rate in a novel quadruple microbial desalination cell with a single desalination chamber’ by Dr Tahereh Jafary (SQU, International Maritime College Oman), who maintained that “science and knowledge has no borders. 

However, in each country, research should be improved and supported through a tight collaboration among researchers around the world”.

Two teams won in the Young Researcher’s category for this field: ‘Fungal Diversity in Tomato Rhizosphere Soil under Conventional and Desert Farming Systems’ by Dr Elham Kazerooni (SQU) and ‘Detecting Dubas bug infestations using high resolution multispectral satellite data in Oman’ by Dr Rashid al Shidi (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources). Dr Elham mentioned that “cooperation between researchers locally and internationally bring together researchers with distinct capabilities which result in positive outcomes, help reflect the perception accurately and minimise mistakes”. 

Dr Shidi further stated that the “award is an incentive for more contribution to research studies that can contribute in solving the main issues/constraints faced in agriculture productivity or other sectors”.

Health and social services

When it comes to societal benefits, Dr Maha al Riyami (SQU), who won in the PhD category with her project ‘Clonal copy-number mosaicism in autoreactive T lymphocytes in diabetic NOD mice’, believes that the findings of her research project “offer novel avenues for decrypting and understanding Type 1 Diabetes and autoimmunity in general. It also opens new possibilities for future individualised treatment through specifically targeting the disease-causing cells”.

In the Young Researcher’s category, the award went to ‘MOVEdiabetes: A cluster randomised controlled trial to increase physical activity in adults with Type 2 diabetes in primary health care in Oman’ by Dr Thamra al Ghafri (Ministry of Health), who “strongly believes that a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach in research is a significant approach towards effective positive healthy behaviours that can improve wellbeing through prevention of diseases and promoting health”. 

Energy and industry

Winning in the PhD category with his project ‘Energy saving potential for residential buildings in hot climates: The case of Oman’, Dr Chaham Alalouch (SQU) suggested that societal benefit of his research for Oman is two-fold. 

“First, it contributes to enhancing the awareness on energy efficiency buildings in Oman, which is not only a need, but also a way forward. Second, it contributes to less electricity consumption, which will reduce the cost on households. Although the cost of building houses might be a bit higher, but in the long run, this will pay back through saving the climate of Oman as well as contributing to the reduction of the global warming.”

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