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USP Celebrates Research Excellence with Research Awards Evening

The University of the South Pacific celebrated research excellence by rewarding its academic staff for their outstanding publications and by awarding the Vice Chancellor’s prizes for excellence in research at an awards evening on November 29.

USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra said the University’s approach to give monetary awards to high-quality recognized research contribution is “now bearing the kind of fruit that we hope to see”.

“Today we find that we are making progress in all the fields including research and for that I congratulate all the recipients of these awards. It’s a huge achievement,” he said.

The 2012 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Best Research Publication was awarded to Mr. Klaus Feussner, Ms. Kavita Ragini, Mr. Rohitesh Kumar, Dr Katy Soapi, Prof. Bill Aalbersberg and Dr Brad Carte for their co-authored publication published in the prestigious journal Natural Product Reports titled: Investigations of the marine flora and fauna of the Fiji Islands.

The rigor in cataloguing Fiji’s marine natural products chemistry involving about 400 compounds and the meticulous work by the eight researchers, six of whom are from USP, directly led to the creation of a Center for Drug Discovery and Conservation at USP in 2006.

The impact of their work in the region is therefore very significant and an important aid for international researchers in the field of drug recovery from marine organisms. It has also led to the reclassification of the taxonomy of some important marine organisms, which is critical to this field and others.

The 2012 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Student Research went to Mr. Jai Goundar for his contributions as lead author of the publication titled: Numerical and Experimental Studies on Hydrofoils for Marine Current Turbines published in the prestigious journal Renewable Energy. Mr. Jai Goundar co-authored this publication with his supervisor Dr. Rafiuddin Ahmed and another researcher from outside the University.

The 2012 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Innovation was awarded to the Timetable Team comprising Dr Anjeela Jokhan, Mr. Harsh Saini and Mr. Kaylash Chaudhary for the successful development and implementation of USP’s first ever timetabling software.

This innovation led to improved and efficient timetabling where the number of hours taken to produce timetables has been greatly reduced from a timeframe of two months to one hour.

The software has not only proved useful but it has been cost-effective as well when compared to purchasing commercial software which could cost over $70k with additional costs of licensing fees.

This innovation has proved useful given the increase in student enrolment numbers and the issues emerging from manual timetabling in the past.

The 2012 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Research Impact was awarded to Professor Bill Aalbersberg for the breadth of his research and his vast contribution to student research training.

The research undertaken under Prof Aalbersberg’s leadership is of the highest international quality spanning several fields of importance to the South Pacific region and has been consistently recognised through the considerable external funding that has been secured from international agencies.

The societal impacts of his work have been profound and long lasting in the South Pacific region and the research findings from his Institute have been vital to establishing regional safe health and environmental management practices.

Speaking on the societal impact of USP research in contributing to the Pacific knowledge base and in helping the people of the Pacific, Prof Aalbersberg said because USP is a regional University, “we need to think about how our research benefits our member countries”.

Prof Chandra said “the positioning of USP has never been better and we continue to improve as we want to scale up on our research”.

Research Awards Evening Image Gallery: Click Here!


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