Curtin Sarawak and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre Explore Possibilities of Collaboration


James Ng, Dr. Gribble, Dr. Manarung, Dr. Yudi, Dr. Yeo (3rd – 7th from left, front row) and Dr. Kaniraj (4th from left, back row) with academics.

Miri – 31 July, 2009 – Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently hosted two distinguished visitors from the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) on a familarisation visit to the university. They were the centre’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Rita Manarung, and Senior Research Officer, Dr. Yeo Tiong Chia.

On hand to receive them were Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr. Joan Gribble, Chief Operating Officer James Ng, Dean of Research and Development Dr. Kaniraj Jeyachandran, Dean of the School of Engineering and Science Dr. Yudi Samyudia, as well as some 30  academics of the university.

In her welcoming speech, Dr. Joan Gribble briefed Dr. Manarung and Dr. Yeo on new developments at Curtin Sarawak, including the RM15 million BioValley Park Project being developed on a 10-acre site at the campus. “As we will be managing the BioValley Park, any assistance or advice the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre can provide towards its establishment and management would be most beneficial to us,” she said.

Dr. Gribble also expressed hopes that Curtin Sarawak and SBC would collaborate in research and development activities in the future. “I think there is great opportunity for collaboration between us, such as research in biodiversity, the environment and preservation of cultures. We are developing a Borneo Studies programme here at Curtin Sarawak, and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre can be of great assistance in that regard,” she said.

Dr. Yudi meanwhile said, “We would like to explore the possibility of establishing research linkages between the BioValley Park and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre. There is a lot of scope for synergy and collaboration once the BioValley Park is established in 2011.”

The BioValley Park Project was formally launched by Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud during Curtin Sarawak’s tenth anniversary celebration in April this year and site works for the first phase of the project are currently underway. It is expected to significantly boost research and development and knowledge accumulation in Sarawak to meet the state’s technological needs, particularly in relation to the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

In her briefing on SBC to those present, Dr. Rita said there was indeed opportunities for mutual support and networking between the two establishments. “Though biodiversity is a very broad field, there are areas where our activities and functions can compliment each other. It is certainly worth looking into,” she stated.

Her one-hour briefing focused on the functions of SBC, which include implementing bioprospecting programmes on Sarawak’s indigenous biodiversity, documenting traditional knowledge on communities’ use of biodiversity, regulating biodiversity research with commercial potential, propagating indigenous plants for conservation and appreciation, developing biodiversity databases for Sarawak, and networking with organisations with similar interests.

Dr. Yeo also gave a briefing on SBC’s research and development programme, which is focused on making discoveries from biological resources that would lead to development of commercial products such as nutraceuticals, cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs and herbal therapies.

Their visit to Curtin Sarawak ended with a tour of the campus and a lunch hosted by the academics.

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