Dr. Eaqub Ali is an Associate Professor of Nanobiotechnology in the University of Malaya which is a world’s ranking university in Malaysia. He is a Biochemistry graduate from the University of Dhaka and also received his master’s in Chemistry from Concordia University at Montreal, Canada and PhD on Nanobiotechnology Engineering from the University of Malaysia Perlis. He has supervised 7 completed PhD and 5 MPhils in the last five years and produced 2 patents, 2 trademarks, 127 papers in ISI journals, 40 conference papers, 2 key notes and 18 invited lectures. His current h-index is 20 and his papers have been cited ~1200 times. Dr. Ali has received many prestigious awards including “Atlas” from Elsevier in 2015 and “ACS PressPac” in 2016 from the American Chemical Society for high impact publications. In his illustrious career, he has set up the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology in the University of Science and Technology Chottagong (USTC) and also worked as the Head of the Department of Biochemistry in BGC Trust Medical College. He is a visible scientist in Water Purification and Food Forensics fields and his group has secured about RM 2.5 million research grants in the last five years. He is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, International Association for Food Protection and AOAC International. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about the writer, please click on the link: https://umexpert.um.edu.my/eaqubali
Scientific Bangladesh: Would you like to tell us about your academic and research life?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: I think it is really difficult to answer which one is first; the egg or the hen? Teaching without research is an effort to learn swimming without going to the water, and research without teaching is just like a miser man who just bears the burden of wealth but cannot make any good for himself or others. I believe research is the generation of knowledge and teaching is the dissemination of knowledge. They are like the two wings of a bird; you cannot make a long flight just by one wing-isn’t it? I used to teach before I did my research but that was just a memorized or borrowed thing; I could not think that as my own; but now when I give a lecture I understand clearly what I am doing and how it came into being.
Scientific Bangladesh: What has made you researcher along with teacher?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: When I was a student, I felt very bored with some classes; wherein the teachers used to give lecture without having understanding the topic in a clear sense. That time I decided that I must not do it if I become a teacher. I started teaching is USTC before getting my master degree on the 5th December 2000 and since then I tried my best understand my self-lecture by reading many-many books; but I just felt those were just borrowed knowledge; novelty was very rarely demonstrated. In 2002, I moved to Canada with a TA ship for my master’s in the Concordia University where I got a wonderful professor, Dr. Juan Turnbull. I did two courses with her: (1) Enzyme Kinetics and Mechanisms and (2) Experimental Protein Chemistry. She used to give us lot of assignments and take an open book exam. That time I understood understanding is more important than memorization and memorized knowledge does not work at the time of necessity. Finally, I read a book, ‘The Wings of Fire” by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam in 2008 and I got huge inspirations from it to be a researcher.
Scientific Bangladesh: How do you manage fund for research?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Funding is always a great challenge in research and you have to win it by going through a tough competition. In Malaysia, we have three types of funding competitions: University, National and International. Most of my funds come from the University and Malaysian Government (National). An outstanding research proposal, strong track records, outstanding team members, extraordinary presentation power before the screening committee and exceptional moral courage have helped me secure about RM 2.5 million research grants in the last 5 years.
Scientific Bangladesh: Where does major part of your research fund come from, home or abroad?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Most of my funds come from the University and Malaysian Government (National).
Scientific Bangladesh: Inadequate fund for research is a major problem in Bangladesh. What would you say in response to pointing fingers by many to this basic problem worldwide, not only in Bangladesh?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Yes; funding, resources, motivation as well as distribution and maintenance of grants are the major limitations of researches in Bangladesh and most parts of the world. However, research has not been halted; it’s going on at its own speed. Our neighbors China and India are doing excellent and the visibility and presence of Chinese and Indian scientists are global. In Bangladesh, funding and infra are of great crises but the motivation of our scientists have got a greater crisis. Whenever, they get some funds, instead of doing research, they become mad for having a pleasure trip. This is also true for our government officers and not all but some of our ministers. Instead of doing constructive things, they take immense pleasures by having a trip in the foreign land. Instead of making themselves scientists, they feel proud by taking a picture with a renowned scientist and historical place.
Scientific Bangladesh: What is your research area? What type of research facilities/ infrastructures you have developed over years and how?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: I have been doing need based research involving food safety, endangered animal species and water security. Global warming and engineered pollutants are great threats to our water and food security but we have very little power to carb the global warming. Our fresh water resources are greatly dwindling and fraud labeling of animal materials in food, pharmaceutical and personal care products are going on at rampant. Therefore, we are developing multicomponent systems for sea water desalination and total analysis of food safety. Most of the resources for this research are available in the University of Malaya and we are actively doing extensive networking across the world to avail facilities of our research. We also spend about 40% of our research money for upgrading and maintenance of our equipment.
Scientific Bangladesh: How many researchers (PhDs and Masters) have you developed by this time? What qualities you focus to develop in the researchers who work with you?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: I have already produced 7 PhD and 5 Masters Graduates. I inculcate writing skills, analytical power, systematic generation and analysis of research data and communication skills. My graduates are doing extremely well in industry and research.
Scientific Bangladesh: If the government had asked for your suggestions/advice for scientific advancement of Bangladesh, what would be three advices you would make as a researcher?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: (1) Fair distribution of fund to genuine researchers through independent panel.
(2) Recruit PhD with strong publication records in Universities and Government institutions.
(3) Introduce KPI (key performance index) in all sectors to promote academics and staffs.
Scientific Bangladesh: What's your suggestion for young graduates who want to be researcher in general and in biochemistry, in particular?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Try to understand and analyze concept rather than memorization. Memorized knowledge does not last long but concept goes for long time.
Scientific Bangladesh: Do you think different professional bodies of scientists playing their due role? What are your suggestions for the leading professional organizations of scientists?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Bangladesh Academy of Sciences should be empowered and come up with science first policy. Scientists are the seeker of truth and pillar of developments. They should be honored and respected based on the things they are doing with science.
Scientific Bangladesh: Have we missed any point that you would like to share with our readers?
Dr. Eaqub Ali: Love your work and profession, the world will love you. Don’t run after money, honor and respects; money, honor and respect are just the by-products of your good work. Think great and feel great!
Scientific Bangladesh: Thanks for your time.