Job creation, environment are key challenges that need researching: TRC’s IAB chairman

MUSCAT: Prof Burkhard Rauhut, Chairman of the International Advisory Board (IAB) of The Research Council (TRC), said that among the most important challenges in the Sultanate that should be researched are job creation and environment.
“The IAB tries to find what would be the best way for the big challenges to solve within Oman. The big challenges are job creation and environment. The IAB tries to transmit experience from other countries to Oman and we hope it will happen,” says Prof Burkhard.
According to him, the environmental challenges in Oman are not limited to only climate change, which is a big international global challenge, but also to waste water treatment, waste disposal and preservation of the richness of the sea. All those things are very important to Oman and research has to be done to tackle all those problems, he said.
Prof Rauhut stated that sustainability has to be put in every kind of subject including job creation, environment, road safety, energy saving and energy transmitting.
He believed that, up to now, The Research Council has done a very good job considering the fact that it is only around ten years old. “At the very beginning, you have to learn how to adopt research to a country which was 50 years ago has no research,” he said.
The Research Council was very successful to address things and put some kind of emphasis on capacity building whenever research was done,” he added.
Prof Geraldine Richmond, the Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon in the United States, and a Member of the IAB of TRC, says, “In the two-and-a-half years that I have been on The Research Council’s International Advisory Board, have already seen progress in the quality of the research that is coming out of Oman. I think that now The Research Council has got its feet on the ground to get things started.”
Now it is time to focus on key issues that are important for the Government and the population of Oman. I think the next stage now for research and innovation in Oman is to make the hard decisions on what areas are we going to focus in in order to get us beyond the oil and gas economy, Professor Richmond added.
Commenting on the Annual Research Forum, Prof Burkhard said, This is absolutely necessary to change over the time the mindset of the people. They should be aware about the importance of research and for those who win the award for example, it is some kind of push for the others to follow them,”
He suggested that TRC should convince the Omani government to allocate one day of the year as a ‘Research Day’.
Professor Richmond believes that the Annual Research Forum is incredibly important for several reasons, one of them is encouraging people to get something done. The other reason according to Professor Geraldine Richmond is networking which is really important. “You may have a poster but you are standing next to someone else that maybe at a different institution that is working on something similar or even dissimilar that you might collaborate with, so I think without this, you lose the opportunity to meet scientists from other institutions and then possibly collaborate together,” she said.
I think it also provides a forum for researchers to see if their project is kind of on the fringes of what the country needs, they might meet up with somebody else who is actually actively working on something that is a high priority in the country and it gives a good model to follow in that case too, Prof Geraldine added.
With regard to the current global research trends, Prof Richmond sees that there are four main current trends. The first trend is the increased focus on research that brings together a lot of different disciplines, while the second trend is the common acceptance by researchers of the need to do research around climate change and how it is going to impact countries.