Curtin Malaysia awarded over RM787,000 in MoHE grants for research projects

Miri – 19 November 2020 – Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) has received a total of RM787,987 in research grants from the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) under its Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS).

Research project submissions by nine of Curtin Malaysia’s academic staff who are active researchers were given approval for the FRGS grants, which are aimed at encouraging basic research to produce new theories, concepts and ideas for the development of knowledge, the creation of new technologies, and the nurturing of a dynamic culture in line with national aspirations. Though the allocation is not as high as the RM819,180 received in 2019, this year’s nine projects is the most ever approved for FRGS grants. Since 2015, Curtin Malaysia has received a total of RM3,535,037 in FRGS funds.

Dean of Research and Development at Curtin Malaysia, Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan, said the acceptance of the project submissions and the grants awarded are testimony of Curtin’s research profile, which is recognised around the world and evident not only at its campuses in Western Australia, but across its four global campuses as well.

Curtin Malaysia is Curtin’s largest international campus and hub in Asia, and as a global campus with an established reputation for innovation, excels in a diverse range of research areas that aim to change the minds and lives of people all over Malaysia and the wider region.

Among the projects are two titled A New Approach to Fundamental Modelling of Sludge Dewatering under Low Pressure Condition’ and ‘A Decision-making Framework to Support Energy Efficient Design of High Rise Residential Buildings’ by Dr. Tan Yee Yong and Ir. Meheron Selowarajoo, both lecturers in the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Science at Curtin Malaysia, respectively.

Dr. Tan, who is also the faculty’s programme coordinator for environmental engineering, received RM101,012 for his project, which he will investigate together with Associate Professor Agus Saptoro and Associate Professor Tang Fu Ee of Curtin Malaysia, Dr. Mohd Ariff bin Ahmad Nazri of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn and Professor Jacobus Johannes Derksen of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Collaborating with Ir. Meheron, who is the programme coordinator for civil and construction engineering, on his project which received funding of RM68,050, are Dr. Tay Ai Chen and Dr. Aidin Nobahar Sadeghifam of Curtin Malaysia, Associate Professor Mohd. Farid Mohamed of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Dr. Amir Mahdiyar of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Mechanical Engineering lecturer Dr. Naveen Kumar Elumalai received RM92,237 for his project which aims to investigate the synergistic effect of nanocellulose incorporation on coulombic interaction and energy dissipation in green conductive stretchable composites based on ionogel and palm waste.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with fellow Curtin Malaysia researchers Associate Professor Sujan Debnath, Associate Professor Moola Mohan Reddy, Associate Professor Mubarak Mujawar and Dr. Lim Chye Ing.

Chemical engineering lecturer and head of the Chemical Engineering Department Associate Professor Stephanie Chan Yen San’s project, which is a characterisation and kinetics study of hydrophobic modified honeycomb tubular biochar with enhanced adsorption capability of volatile organic compounds, is being funded to the tune of RM84,200.

Associate Professor Chan’s co-investigators are Dr. Tan Yie Hua, Associate Professor Mubarak Mujawar and Dr. Tan Inn Shi of Curtin Malaysia, and Dr. Mohd Dinie Muhaimin Bin Samsudin of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor M.V. Prasanna, who is head of the Department of Applied Geology, received RM90,200 for his project titled ‘Determination of Vulnerability Zones based on Spatial and Temporal Variations of Metals in Different Size Fractions – Miri Estuary (Sarawak)’.

Associate Professor Prasanna will team up with colleagues Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan and Dr. Lau Shiew Wei of Curtin Malaysia, Professor Sabarathinam Chidambaram of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and Dr. Domenik Wolffboenisch of Curtin University, Perth.

Associate Professor Agus Saptoro of the Department of Chemical Engineering, who is also the Deputy Dean of Research and Development and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee at Curtin Malaysia, received RM95,100 for his project to develop mechanistic models of hybrid microwave and ultrasound-assisted pharmaceutical crystallisation.

Collaborating with him on the project are Associate Professor Wee Siaw Khur and Dr. Angnes Tiong Ngieng Tze of Curtin Malaysia, Professor Jacobus Johannes Derksen and Dr. Aniruddha Majumder of the University of Aberdeen and Associate Professor Yusuke Asakuma of the University of Hyogo, Japan.

Senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Wong Wei Kitt, received RM98,600 for his project titled ‘Modelling Fake News Spread as a Probabilistic Mechanism Incorporating News Profile’, which he will co-investigate with Dr. Ngu Ik Ying and Dr. Filbert Hilman Juwono of Curtin Malaysia, and Professor Sazali Bin Yaacob of Universiti Kuala Lumpur.

Lecturer in the Department of Petroleum Engineering, Henry Okafor Elochukwu, received RM75,700 for his project on ‘Wettability and Adsorption of Methyl Ester Sulphonate/Polystyrene ANanofluid to Enhance Recovery from Matured Malaysian Tapis Oilfield’, which will see him collaborating with Associate Professor Jobrun Nandong of Curtin Malaysia and Associate Professor Mohamed Ali Hamid of Heriot-Watt University Malaysia.

Lastly, Dr. Noraisikin Binti Sabani, a lecturer in the Department of Culture and Language Studies, Faculty of Humanities, received RM82,888 for a learning and teaching related project very relevant in current times titled ‘Development of Personalised Learning Hub Framework: Means to Assist East Malaysia’s Rural Learners in HEI’.

Collaborating with Dr. Noraisikin on the project will be Dr. Shamsul Kamariah Abdullah and Dr. Anita Jimmie of Curtin Malaysia, and Associate Professor Sallimah Haji Mohd. Salleh of Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Curtin Malaysia’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Simon Leunig congratulated the nine staff members for their hard work in preparing and submitting their applications for the FRGS 2020 round and for their continued dedication to the advancement of research and development at Curtin Malaysia.

He also extended his thanks to Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan and his deputy, Associate Professor Agus Saptoro, and their staff at Curtin Malaysia’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) for assisting the applicants with their submissions. Professor Nagarajan is also the Director of the Curtin Malaysia Research Institute.

“All the hard work has certainly paid off. The ORD team was instrumental to the securing of these grants, and along with the applicants, put in a lot of work into the effort. The results were well worth it, with nine successful projects out of a total of 36 grant applications submitted representing a success rate of 25 per cent and total grants in excess of RM787,000. We now look forward to many significant outcomes from all the research,” Professor Leunig said.

Professor Leunig also acknowledged the project collaborators from other universities, saying that strong academic and industry partnerships lie at the heart of research endeavours at Curtin Malaysia.

“Whether we’re developing new renewable energy technologies, exploring research opportunities in the ecosystem, or gaining new insights into the global business arena, our ability to forge collaborations and share knowledge have enabled us to take a big picture approach to research and transform complex problems into innovative solutions that have a far-reaching impact,” he commented.

He added that researchers at Curtin Malaysia have access to the highest calibre of facilities and resources, as well as a supportive research community, which fosters a strong performance culture.

He said that, to be aligned with the current technological trends and contribute to the provision of skilled human capital for South East Asia and beyond, Curtin Malaysia is now focusing on the following research areas: Digital Innovation; Marketing, Tourism and Rural Entrepreneurship; Green Technology and Renewable Energy; Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering; and Aquaculture Technology and Economics.

This has also created an opportunity for the potential young Malaysian graduates to pursue their Higher Degree by Research (HDR) programmes with Curtin Malaysia.

Dr. Tan Yee Yong, Ir. Meheron Selowarajoo, Dr. Naveen Kumar Elumalai, Associate Professor Stephanie Chan Yen San & Associate Professor MV Prasanna.

Associate Professor Agus Saptoro, Dr. Wong Wei Kitt, Henry Okafor Elochukwu & Dr. Noraisikin Binti Sabani.

Professor Simon Leunig, Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive.

Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan, Dean of Research & Development.