UBD and SMART Sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

The Faculty of Science, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) on 16 November 2015.

With the new partnership, UBD and SMART aim to work together to facilitate academic mobility for both students and academic staff to encourage knowledge and skills transfer between the two institutions. Both parties will also cooperate in joint publications, collaborative research and other areas. Signing on behalf of UBD was Professor David Koh Soo Quee, Vice-President (Research and Innovation) while SMART was represented by John Desforge, Executive Director, SMART.

SMART is a major research enterprise established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in partnership with the National Research Foundation of Singapore in 2007. SMART is MIT's first, and to-date only, research centre outside the United States. It is also MIT's largest international research programme. Headed by senior MIT faculty members, SMART currently conducts research on critical problems of societal significance and develops innovative solutions through four interdisciplinary research groups focusing on development and deployment of sensor technologies to study and forecast environmental issues; development of healthcare technologies of the future using engineering and bioscience approaches; understanding pathogen-host interactions of major infectious diseases; and development of future passenger and freight transportation systems.

Prior to the inking of the MOU, UBD had collaborated with SMART’s Professor Charles Harvey and Dr. Alex Cobb in a research project at the Ulu Mendaram Conservation Area in the Belait district, one of the most intact and well-preserved peat swamps in the world. Conducted under the Heart of Borneo initiative with support from the Brunei Heart of Borneo Centre, the project’s overall goal is to understand the processes that lead to peat accumulation and loss. This interdisciplinary project has drawn collaborators from the USA, UK, France, Vietnam, India, and Germany with specialities ranging from groundwater hydrology and biogeochemistry to remote sensing and plant physiology.  The results from that project to date have already yielded several academic publications with UBD staff and students in leading scientific journals.

This collaborative research currently also sees the active involvement of UBD’s Dr Rahayu Sukri and Dr Faizah Metali in studying the effects of nutrient cycling and light environment on peat swamp seedling growth and forest productivity, both at the field sites in Ulu Mendaram as well as in ex-situ nurseries. A Bruneian UBD MSc student will be working with the SMART team from January 2016 and more projects will be offered to UBD students interested in peat swamp research. The Faculty of Science is also currently working to send internship students to SMART during their year out also known as the Discovery Year.

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