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Higher Education Commission Post-Doctoral Scholars Bring Home International Research Experiences

Islamabad: Dr.Saif ur Rehman Kashif, Dr. Tariq Aziz and Dr. Zafar Ullah, who were funded by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to pursue their post-doctoral studies abroad, have not only learnt new research techniques in their respective fields but are also keen to implement the same for the development of their country.

Dr.Saif completed his studies at the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA), where he conducted research on calcium carbide as a source of ethylene and studied its effects on vegetables especially okra, chillies and tomato. His research results indicated that by the application of calcium carbide in vegetables, 30-40 per cent yield can be increased which may result in much higher return to the farmers.

He received training for Laboratory Bio safety and Blood Borne Pathogen, Chemical Waste Management, and Packing and Shipping of Infectious Materials as per US Department of Transportation regulations.

He also learned molecular techniques which he may utilize in his future studies at university level in Pakistan. Dr.Saif has rejoined his parent institution, the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF).

Dr.Tariq Aziz, an Assistant Professor at UAF, joined the University of Western Australia’s School of Plant Biology for his post-doctoral study. He worked on research project aimed at increasing phosphorus (P) efficiency in agriculture, as more than 90 per cent of Pakistan’s soil has its deficiency.

Salinity, drought and nutrient deficiency, and in particular phosphorus deficiency are problems common to both countries. Dr. Aziz’s project focuses on exploring the mechanisms which native plants have adopted to cope with P deficiency in soil. He is particularly interested in Ptilotus (an Australian genus) as it has the unique ability to maintain its growth at both low and high P.

Besides,Dr. Aziz is also working in a collaborative study on differential gene expression in two wheat genotypes under P deficiency. This project will generate a genetic marker for large-scale screening of wheat germplasm for Deficiency. In recognition of the work done by Dr. Aziz, University of Western Australia has conferred on him a position of Adjunct Lecturer for a period of three years.

Similarly,Dr. Zafar Ullah pursued his post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG), University of Adelaide, under the supervision of Dr. Mark Tester, a world-renowned scientist.

Dr.Zafar has specialization in plant stress physiology, which he continued during his post-doctoral research. He worked as a team member of the trans-disciplinary research group and learned several new techniques. He developed a strong linkage with the academia and researchers in Australia and wishes to exploit the peer-networking for future research and extension programmes between Pakistan and Australia.

“It was a great chance to gain valuable research experience abroad. It has broadened my vision for research and life. I lived and worked under socially, culturally and ethnically diverse conditions in Australia. This was not possible without the funding from HEC,” says Dr. Zafar.

For more information, contact:
Aayesha Ikram
Director (Media)
Higher Education Commission
Sector H-9, Islamabad
Tel: 90402404, 90402412
Email: aikram@hec.gov.pk
Website: www.hec.gov.pk

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