SQU organises forum for strategic research projects
March 13, 2018 | 10:16 PM
by ONA
Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), represented by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research, organised a Forum for Strategic Research Projects Funded by His Majesty’s Trust Fund at SQU’s Lecture Theatre on Tuesday. - ONA

Muscat: Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), represented by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research, organised a Forum for Strategic Research Projects Funded by His Majesty’s Trust Fund at SQU’s Lecture Theatre on Tuesday under the auspices of Khalid bin Hilal Al Ma’awali, Chairman of the Majlis A’Shura.

The forum featured nine projects that have been supported by His Majesty’s Trust Fund.

These projects are concerned with the fields of education, the humanities, the sciences, and medicine and health care, and are of strategic importance to maintaining sustainable development within the Sultanate.

The forum targeted researchers and faculty members within and outside SQU, in addition to representatives from the public and private sectors and postgraduate and undergraduate students.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al Mahrooqi, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research, said that His Majesty’s Trust Fund is a key driver of interdisciplinary research conducted at SQU that is concerned with various areas of strategic national importance.“Since its inception in 2001, the support that this fund offers the university’s researchers has allowed SQU to engage in a number of large-scale projects that share a concern with finding solutions to real-world problems in order to benefit Oman socially, culturally, and economically”.

The first session of the forum featured three presentations.

The first presentation, “Measuring Against Expectations: Critical Thinking Skill Development Among SQU Students”, was delivered by Prof. Thuwayba Al Barwani, Director of Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning and a professor at the College of Education’s Curriculum and Teaching Department.

This was followed by the presentation “Effectiveness of the Design and Use of New Software in Learning Arabic Reading at Omani First Basic Education Cycle Schools” by Dr. Ali Sharaf Al Musawi, a faculty member at the College of Education’s Department of Education and Learning Technology.

Dr. Al-Musawi reported the main findings of his research as supporting the effectiveness of the featured software on student achievement in reading comprehension.

In addition, audience members learned how student attitudes towards the use of software in learning Arabic were positive.

The third forum presentations also focused on education.

It was “Assessment of Lifestyle: Physical Activity, Nutritional Habits, Sedentary Behavior, and BMI Among School Adolescents in Oman (15-17)”.

The presenter, Dr. Kashef Nayef Zayed, from the College of Education’s Department of Physical Education, discussed how approximately 30 per cent of boys and 77 per cent of girls were identified as physically inactive, while 25 per cent of boys and 27 per cent of girls were overweight or obese.

In the second session, Sayyid Dr. Munther bin Hilal al-Busaidi from the College of Economics and Political Science, gave a presentation on

“The Role of Disclosures in Muscat Securities Market”.Research findings support the introduction of a specific set of action items to improve disclosures.

These include providing more structure to required disclosures, improving the current fine structure to penalize non-compliant firms, using disclosure ranking as an incentive for firms to provide more information, upgrading the financial analysis and financial press industry to provide another incentive/pressure for firms to disclose information.

After that, Dr. Shahid Mahmood Al Bulushi, from the College of Economics and Political Science’s, Operations Management and Business Statistics Department, offered a presentation entitled “Assessment of Application of LEAN Thinking in Omani Healthcare Sector”.The primary objective of the research project described in the presentation was examining the potential for improvements that can be made to the healthcare sector in the Sultanate through the application of LEAN thinking to deliver higher- quality healthcare to all citizens.

In the last session, Dr. Younis Baqi from the College of Science’s Chemistry Department gave a presentation on “Investigating the Anti- Cancer Properties of Natural Products Isolated from Date Fruits

(Phoenix Dactylifera L.) of the Omani Elite Variety “Khalas”.

The project focused on date fruit extracts and their benefits in individual health and highlighted their applications in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.

The next forum session was “Value Added Functional Products from Less Utilised Biomaterials Locally Available in the Sultanate” by Dr. Mohammad Shafiur Rahman from the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences’ Food Science and Nutrition Department.

Audience members heard how the results of this study provided in-vivo evidence that pomegranate peel, papaya skin and seaweed extracts reduced azoxymethane induced colon cancer in rats through their potent anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic and anti- inflammatory activities.

In the next presentation, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sadi from the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences’ Department of Crop Sciences discussed his project, “Potential Sources of Plant Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria into Farms in Oman”.

Dr. Al-Sadi explained how the overall objective of the study was to investigate the potential sources of fungal and bacterial pathogens into farms in Oman and to develop or select proper screening methods of fungal contamination in potting media and organic fertilisers.

The study also optimised a protocol for direct extraction of DNA from soil, potting media and organic fertilisers, which proved to be superior to previously developed protocols.

Another presentation made by Prof. Sobhi Jaber Nasir, Director of the Earth Sciences Research Centre on “Characterization of Meteorites”.

Audience members learned how the project involved a study of 95 meteorite samples, including detailed petrographic, geochemical, mineralogical, and textural studies.

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