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Supervisor and Facilities both play important role in making Successful Researchers-Professor Mamun
( Dr. A A Mamun )

 

The ‘basic science’ is the foundation of the development of `modern technology’ without which a country cannot be developed or cannot be independent economically. I am against brain-draining, and against making Bangladesh an exporter of scholars. However, I want to see that our brilliant students will go abroad only for higher studies or for advanced research, and will return Bangladesh to utilize their scientific research/teaching experiences in developing our beloved motherland Bangladesh-Prof. A A Mamun 

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Scientific Bangladesh, in its pursuit to give Bangladeshi researchers (at home and in abroad) scope to talk about their present research, future plan, giving directions to future researchers and government, has talked (by email) with Prof. A A Mamun to get his insight on different issues……. 

 

 

Scientific Bangladesh: What or who had made you physicist? 

Professor Mamun: There are many points. The most important ones are: 

  1. My interest/love in physics which explains the beauty of nature.
  2. All of my physics teachers, particularly my M. Sc., Ph.D. and Post-Doctoral supervisors who are the big source of my inspiration to learn new physics.
  3. My determination to learn new physics and dedication in research work which are essential to be a good physicist.

                            

         
Scientific Bangladesh: What has made you such an award winner scientist, talent or passion? Is it possible to be an excellent researcher without passion, what do you think? 

 

Professor Mamun: To be a good physicist, of course, one must be talented as well as passionate.  The output of the research work always follows ‘sine curve’ (at least in my opinion), so without passion and dedication one cannot continue his/her research work. There are some other important points which are essential to be an award winner scientist. These are as follows: 

  1. Proper guidance, I mean, a good supervisor who is able to make his/her research students creative minded, to enter nice dreams into his or her students’ mind, and to help in fulfilling their (students’) dreams.To explain the importance of a good supervisor, we should look at history: Nobel Laureate Thompson produced another Nobel Laureate Rutherford who later produced another Nobel Laureate Bohr.  Another history: Nobel Laureate Irene Curie was a student (as well as daughter) of Nobel Laureate Marie Curie who was a student of another Nobel Laureate Becquerel.  As a supervisor as well as former research student, I would like to add that supervisors must not make their research students spoon-fed, in any way. 
  2. Determination and dedication without which one cannot be a good researcher at least in my opinion.
  3. Research environment including minimum research facilities which, unfortunately, are almost absent in Bangladesh.  However, environments for research work are being created (to some extent) by some who are strongly determined to create research environments in Bangladesh.

I was really lucky to have my M. Sc., Ph.D. and Post-Doctoral supervisors (who are also many national and international award winners), and to have all the opportunities mentioned above. It should be noted here that my post-doctoral supervisor (Indian Born-German Scientist) is now regarded as the ‘father of modern plasma science’.  

  

Scientific Bangladesh: Which of the awards was the most exciting for you and why? 

 

Professor Mamun: I was awarded a number of national and international awards and prizes. Two international awards and one national award are the most exciting from the view of different aspects mentioned below: 

  1. The ‘Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award-2009’ by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) in recognition of my past accomplishment of research and teaching.  It was the most exciting to me not only because it represents a cash of 45000.00 (forty five thousand) Euro and an opportunity to work in Germany for a prolonged period of time, but also because until now, from Bangladesh I am the only person who got such a prestigious prize.
  2. The ‘Best Young Physicist Prize-2000’ by the ITCPP (Trieste, Italy) in recognition of my pioneering contribution to the study of nonlinear phenomena in complex plasmas. It was also the most exciting (that time) to me not only because it was the first recognition from abroad, but also because it was a worldwide competition (my competitor was a very talented American Scientist of my age bracket).
  3. The ‘Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (BAS) Gold Medal-2004’ (junior group) by the BAS for my excellent research and great contribution to general progress of science and technology in Bangladesh. It was also the most exciting (that time) to me because it was the first recognition from my own country, and because the prize was given by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

 
Scientific Bangladesh: What made you return to Bangladesh ignoring many offers of position in different world-class research organizations? 


Professor Mamun: There are many reasons that made me return to Bangladesh. The most important ones are:

  1. I owe my life not only to my parents, but also to my brothers/sisters. I owe my enjoyable early life not only to my relatives/neighbors/friends, but also to village-paths, rivers, birds and green trees which make my early –life the most charming.    
  2. I owe my school and college lives not only to my school and college teachers and friends, but also every element of the school and college along with all kinds of environments, which helped me to grow up properly.
  3. I owe my university (student/service) life to Jahangirnagar University as well as its every element (particularly, its endless walking paths, its green tress, its beautiful lakes/ponds, its birds with songs, etc. I feel that my beloved Jahangirnagar University gave me much more than I wanted from it (JU).

 It is very difficult for me to forget all of these facts mentioned in 1-3. It is also very difficult for me to survive without being the part of my beloved Jahangirnagar University. The last but not the least, I returned to Bangladesh ignoring many offers of position in different world-class research organizations because of my firm commitment or strong determination to serve my own country, because of my strong desire/interest to teach my students using my mother tongue, and because of my love in own motherland and own university (Jahangirnagar University), where my education life was grown up. I want to be in touch with my beloved Jahangirnagar University Campus until the last moment of my death. 

 

 

Scientific Bangladesh: Keeping in mind so many awards for your research excellence, we dare to ask; do you think you have contributed as much as you wanted when took decision to return to Bangladesh? If yes, what facilities helped you? If not, what are the obstacles you face? 

 

Professor Mamun: We have many limitations to continue the world class research in Bangladesh. Still I do believe that it is possible to do world class theoretical (computational) research in Bangladesh if someone has a very strong determination and dedication in research.  You will be happy to know that with the help of TWAS (Trieste, Italy) and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn, Germany), at JU I already set up two theoretical (computational) plasma physics laboratories where 15 research students can carry out the world class research at a time, and that in every year on average nearly 30 research articles are being published by my research students in prestigious American/European journals. I am happy to inform you that almost every year 3 or 4 students are getting full scholarships for their Ph. D. degrees from European/Australian Universities.  

 

 

Scientific Bangladesh:  What do you feel about research culture in Bangladeshi Universities in general and in Jahangirnagar University in particular?

 

Professor Mamun: The research culture in Bangladeshi Universities, including Jahangirnagar University, is not blowing up. I am sorry to say that dirty politics (or flattering of the employers by employees who want to go up without teaching or research) in Bangladeshi Universities is blowing up. This is, of course, a kind of self-criticism; at least in my opinion, we cannot be improved if we don’t believe in self-criticism. 

 

Scientific Bangladesh: What would be your suggestions to improve research culture and facilities in our universities to our VCs and Government from your vast experience at home and in abroad? 


Professor Mamun: I do believe that ‘basic science’ is the foundation of ‘modern technology’ without which a country cannot be developed or cannot be independent economically. So the government or the authorities of the universities or research organizations should think the following points: To stop brain-draining, all young genius brains and scholars of our own must be encouraged (attracted) to return our own country by making appropriate policies. I am sorry to say, in every sector of Bangladesh (during the period of every government), the contribution in (dirty!) politics is more important than the contribution in education or research. This cannot stop brain draining, but this can help to make Bangladesh an exporter of scholars. I am against brain draining, and against making Bangladesh an exporter of scholars. However, I want to see that our brilliant students will go abroad only for higher studies or for advanced research, and will return Bangladesh to utilize their scientific research and teaching experiences in developing our beloved motherland Bangladesh. The  government or policy makers of higher education sector should have a long-term vision to try to create some kind of environment for them.     

 

 

Scientific Bangladesh:  What suggestions or advice   you usually give when your students graduate and go abroad for higher study and research?


Professor Mamun: I already supervised a large number of M. Sc. and Ph. D. students. I always strongly advised (and show dreams) my research students along with my other students (in class room) to go abroad at least to open their eyes and to widen their mind by interacting with students/scientists of different cultures of different nations.  The most of my M. Sc. research students, after their M. Sc. thesis, are doing Ph. D. in western countries with full scholarships. The rest of my research students are waiting to go abroad for Ph. D. just to make permanent their positions in public universities of Bangladesh.  The suggestions or advices that I usually give my students (before leaving Bangladesh for higher studies) are as follows:

  1. You must learn new physics, new techniques, and try to be innovative with ideas.
  2. You must impress your supervisor and your colleagues not only by your honesty, sincerity, and dedication in your research, but also by your pleasant personality and strong determination.
  3. You must not forget the good cultures of our own, and must not lose your own identity. You can, of course, follow only those western cultures which are good ones.  You will find many good and bad things there.
  4. You must not forget what you got from Bangladesh, and what you should give to your beloved motherland Bangladesh.

 


Scientific Bangladesh: Are you contributing by any other way for scientific advancement of Bangladesh other than teaching and research, such as involvement with professional bodies of scientists? What’s your evaluation of the Bangladeshi professional bodies of scientists’ in comparison to other countries you have experience?


Professor Mamun: Truly speaking, I am not in a position to contribute by any other way for scientific advancement of Bangladesh other than teaching and research. I feel that the Bangladesh Academy of Science (BAS) is encouraging or recognizing our young and senior scientists to go ahead with their research. 

 

 

Scientific Bangladesh: Have we missed any point that you would like to share with our readers? 


Professor Mamun: Yes, I would like to share my research field with your readers. I am working in `Physics of Complex (Dusty) Plasmas’, which, because of its versatile applications, infinitely large domain, and unsolvable complexities, has become a challenging research topic not only for near future, but also for long—long—period of time to come.  Your readers will be happy to know that working on this research field, I wrote one text book [published 1st edition by the Institute of Physics (London) and 2nd edition by Taylor & Francis] and wrote over 250 research articles [published in foreign international journals, like Phys. Rev. Lett. (USA), Geophys. Res. Lett. (USA), J. Geophys Res. (USA), Astrophys. J. (USA), Phys. Rev. B (USA), Phys. Rev. E (USA), Phys. Plasmas (USA), IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. (USA), Phys. Scripta (Sweden), J. Plasma Phys. (UK), Phys. Lett A. (Netherlands), etc.  I would like to share another point with your readers that the quality of research work is more important than its quantity. One of the important indicators to measure the quality of research work is its citations. Your readers will be happy to know that my research works already received over 5000 citations (in total). To see the detailed information of my research work, I suggest your readers to click: Dr. A A Mamun – Google Scholar Citations. 

 


Scientific Bangladesh: Thank you very much for your time and valuable opinions. Professor Mamun: Thank you very much. I really appreciate you for all the nice questions you ask 


 
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