Joint symposium between Osaka University and other higher education institutions in Brunei

Article prepared by Dr. Fairuzeta Ja’afar

On the 21st February 2018, the Faculty of Science, UBD organised a joint symposium between Osaka University and other higher education institutions in Brunei Darussalam. The theme of this symposium is “Innovation in Science and Technology”. The symposium was officiated by Prof. David Koh, the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Enterprise, welcoming the visitors from Osaka University as well as the representatives from governmental bodies and higher education institutions in Brunei. Prof. Koh stressed the importance of adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling key problem areas in research. This was then followed by opening remarks from Prof. Kazumasa Hirata, the Vice Executive Director for the Center for Global Initiative and the Project Leader for the ASEAN campus for Osaka University in Japan.

The symposium was divided into three sessions. The first session focused on the area of Bioresource and Biodiversity. Amongst those speaking were Mr. Hj Md. Safwan bin Abdullah Bibi, the acting CEO of Brunei’s Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative from the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism. Mr. Safwan highlighted the wealth of biodiversity in Brunei and the untapped potential of bioresources, which could be the subject of research. Representing Osaka University were Prof. Masayoshi Arai and Prof. Kazumasa Hirata, each presenting their work on the potential medicinal properties of from plant and marine resources. Dr. Aida Maryam Hj. Basri, a lecturer in Food Sciences from Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) looked at plants as a potential source for functional food development. Lastly, Prof. Ulmar Grafe presented a thought-provoking talk calling for researchers to look to nature for inspiration, outlining the the examples of current patented technologies that have been derived from animal bio-mechanics.

Figure 1 - The joint symposium between Osaka University and Brunei higher education institutions was officiated by Prof. David Koh, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Innovation and Enterprise from Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

This session was then followed by the Halal Science and Technology session which was chaired by Prof. Quamrul Hasan, from Universiti Utara Malaysia and the Chairman of Japan Halal Research Institute (JAHARI), who highlighted the issues and challenges surrounding the area of Halal Science and Technology. Presenting the views surrounding Halal policies was Associate Professor Nurdeng Deuraseh from Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA). Representing FOS in this session was Associate Professor Dr. Monowarul Mobin Siddique from the Environmental and Life Sciences Programme, who looked into targeting sphingolipid metabolites to improve insulin response. This session ended with a talk from Dr. Namasivayam Navaranjan from UTB, who focused on methods to enhance shelf-life of Halal food.

The final session of the joint symposium was “Advanced Materials and Technology”, chaired by Professor Dr. Eiichi Tamiya from Osaka University, whose talk focuses on nanobiotechnology for the development of biosensors. Presenters from UBD in this session included Professor Toru Kitamura, who outlined the promising area of photocatalysis, Dr. Mohammad Hilni Harun Sani speaking on mixed metal oxides and Dr. Mohammad Mansoob Khan, whose talk also focused on metal oxides and nanocomposites for photocatalysis. Another speaker from UTB, Dr. Maziyar Sabet, presented a talk on the potential of using graphene for water desalination.

All three sessions resulted in fruitful discussions and with potential collaborative ties. Researchers were also then invited to a networking dinner session held at the Emperor’s Court Restaurant, where participants were given the opportunity for further discussion in an informal setting.