Activities in 2018                        

Inaugural multidisciplinary conference on science and humanities

UTAR Faculty of Science's (FSc) Centre for Biodiversity Research hosted the International Conference on Recent Trends in Humanities and Science (ICRTHS) 2018 for the first time at its Kampar Campus on 26 October 2018, enabling education ties between Malaysian and Indian institutions of higher learning to be strengthened.  

From left: Dr Wong, Sinouvassane, Dr Lim, Prof Mahadeva, Dr Sivachithappa, researchers, academics and participants at Kampar Campus

The one-day conference was jointly organised with Haldia Institute of Technology and Arunai International Research Foundation from India. It saw the presence of over 150 participants from 27 Indian higher learning institutions and nine Malaysian universities.

Held for the first time in UTAR, the conference served as a strategic platform, enabling participants to share experiences and insights in the areas of university-university collaboration.

Invited to officiate the conference was FSc's Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng, Professor from the Faculty of Medicine of Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu Prof Dr U. S. Mahadeva Rao, Conference Chairman of the University of Mysore, India Dr K. Sivachithappa, Former Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Phy. Edu. Sports University Prof Dr R. Thirumalaisamy, FSc’s Centre for Biodiversity Research Chairperson Dr Wong Wey Lim, Organising Chairperson of ICRTHS 2018 D. Sinouvassane, participants, UTAR staff and students.

Dr Lim expressing keen interests for potential research collaborations between UTAR and Indian universities  

Representing the Malaysian Organising Committee to deliver the welcome address was Dr Lim, who expressed his warm welcome to all the local and international participants at the conference. “The rapid development of knowledge and technology has precluded the model of ancient sages who claimed to know everything under the sun. Human beings have learnt that collaboration, communication and sharing of knowledge are the essence of sustainable future development. Hence, we see more and more congregations of minds to look into the human challenges from concerted efforts involving diverse disciplines,” he said, and hoped that ICRTHS 2018 will generate strategic networking between Malaysian and Indian academics.

Sinouvassane explaining the key objectives of the conference

The Organising Chairperson of ICRTHS 2018, Sinouvassane said, “On behalf of the organising committee, it is our prodigious honour to invite and welcome you to the International Conference on Recent Trends in Humanities and Science 2018. This conference aimed at providing a platform for academicians, experts, scientists and research scholars from various disciplines of science and humanities to exchange the knowledge and ideas at most diverse and contemporary levels to buttress the academics and industry for the benefit of society. As the chairperson of the organising committee, I would like to thank the distinguished invited speakers for sharing their treasured knowledge and all the presenters for sharing their scientific novel as well as innovative findings. I am also indebted to all the members of the organising committee for their obligation and meticulousness to make this event memorable and successful.”

Dr Sivachithappa emphasising on the importance of humanistic knowledge

Conference Chairman from the University of Mysore, India, Dr Sivachithappa said, “Multidisciplinary research at present context is very much significant. Many of us have to constantly prove that research in education, literature, philosophy, history or sociology is just as important as anything else. Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. In this context, the present conference will be very much useful to research scholars, academicians and policy makers.”

Prof Mahadeva emphasising on the importance of interdisciplinary research

Speaking on behalf of the Malaysian public university, Prof Mahadeva said, “Undeniably, it is becoming more and more obvious that major research funding agencies are progressively focused on concrete interdisciplinary association. As science gets more complex, interdisciplinary and socially potent, it gradually bears on areas traditionally occupied by the humanities; but it also with time, needs the reflective understanding that philosophy can provide. Within the themes of biology, medicine, psychology and philosophy, researchers can address questions regarding fact and value, knowledge and expertise, and individual and society as they arise at the intersection of the humanities and the life sciences.

Prof Thirumalaisamy looking forward to various research collaborations with Malaysian universities

In his felicitation, Prof Thirumalaisamy enthused, “It is great to organise an appropriate international conference with the collaboration of UTAR. Indian youths are welcomed all over the world for their deep knowledge in their subject and sharp acumen, but we also need young generation with nerves of steel and muscles of iron to meet the international challenges and bring laurels and wards to India. I am sure that this conference will help to prepare the great achievers and awardees of tomorrow to meet the challenges in the global arena and to spot out and nurture the talents in youth and make them great achievers.”

The ceremony ensued with a souvenir presentation and group photograph session, followed by keynote addresses by two keynote speakers, namely Assoc Prof Dr Siah Poh Chuah from UTAR’s Faculty of Arts and Social Science and Assist Prof Dr Lee Poh Foong from UTAR’s Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science. They delivered significant keynote addresses titled “The Psychosocial Impact of Cultural Preference for Sons” and “A Quantitative Study on the Physiological Changes and Effects of Different Deep Breathing Durations on Cognitive Control” respectively. 

Aimed to promote research and development activities in all branches of humanities and science, and to promote scientific information interchange between researchers, developers, students and practitioners working in India and Malaysia, the conference hosted two plenary lectures and nearly 120 oral and poster presentations presented by the researchers from India and Malaysia. The conference saw the participation of around 150 local and international participants.  
                                                                                  Some oral presentations by local and international presenters

Among the sub-themes presented throughout the conference were Medical, Health and Life Sciences, Mathematics and Information Technology, Education, Business and Social Sciences.   

The selected abstracts of ICRTHS 2018 will be published in the American Journal of Biopharmacology Biochemistry and Life Sciences (online ISSN:2166-126X) in the following edition.

                 Powering Sustainability with Infinite Varieties in Our Biological World

Front row, from left: Dr Goh, Dato Sri Dr Gathorne-Hardy, Prof Faidz, Hizaz, Kok Keong, and Dr Wong, posing with speakers and participants at the opening ceremony

The International Conference on Tropical Biodiversity 2018 was successfully held from 8 to 11 October 2018, at Tower Regency Hotel, Ipoh. The conference was jointly organised by UTAR’s Centre for Biodiversity Research (CBR), South China Botanical Garden (SCBG) (Chinese Academy of Science), Bogor Agricultural University, Society for Conservation Biology, Malaysian Society of Applied Biology, Rimba Ilmu (University of Malaya), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, University Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) MICET, The University of Nottingham Malaysian Campus, Monash University Malaysia, Yayasan Bina Lestari, and Pulau Banding Foundation.

Present at the opening ceremony were Director of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, Perak office Hizaz bin Mohd Ibrahim, UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ts Dr Faidz bin Abd Rahman, the 5th Earl of Cranbrook Dato Sri Dr Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, Deputy Chairman of Perak Academy Chan Kok Keong, Chairperson of CBR Dr Wong Wey Lim, and Organising Chairperson Dr Goh Wei Lim.

This conference is indeed our first ever international biodiversity conference. We believe biodiversity in the biomes leads to the stability of ecosystems. All living things in this world coexist and interact every day. Only with the right understanding could we manage our ecosystem more sustainably. Scientific research on biodiversity is therefore important for us to gain fundamental knowledge that will benefit us all,” said Dr Goh.

She added, “We are extremely honoured to have various institutions joining us as the co-organiser. The invited speakers we have today here are experts in their respective fields of study. Besides, we are also excited to have participants from China, Indonesia, Singapore, United Kingdom (UK) and local participants joining us. We hope our conference will serve as a platform for us all to exchange research ideas, and to learn from one another.”

Dr Goh delivering her speech

Prof Faidz delivering his speech

Hizaz explaining the importance of biodiversity to ecotourism in his speech

From left: Hizaz officiating the conference, while Prof Faidz and Dr Goh look on

Themed ‘Powering Sustainability with Infinite Varieties in Our Biological World’,  the conference aimed to bring together the world’s experts to present and share their current findings, as well as to strengthen interdisciplinary research links among researchers and stakeholders by promoting effective communication on various current issues related to biodiversity. The conference consisted of three plenaries, seven keynotes and four symposiums. Each symposium discussed a specific sub-theme, which were ‘Fundamentals of Biodiversity’, ‘Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security’, ‘Biodiversity and Human Health’, and ‘Biodiversity in Modern Living’.

Enriching minds via plenary sessions

The first plenary saw Dato Sri Dr Gathorne-Hardy presenting his research titled “Swiftlets (Aves, Apodidae, Collocaliini) in Science and Society: Research in the Past Six Decades and Future Prospects”. He shed new light on the origin of the distinctive 'domesticated' phenotype now occupying house-farms. The unique features of this fascinating group of birds will continue to provide opportunities for enhanced cooperation between science and society.

His research explained that the swiftlets form a natural group, classed as 'tribe' Collocaliini within the typical swifts Apodidae, distributed at tropical or sub-tropical latitudes across the Indo-Pacific region from the Seychelles to Hawai'i, north to the eastern Himalayas in continental Asia, and south to northern Australia. A new industry has developed in the construction of purpose-built premises (called 'house-farms') and the management of swiftlets occupying them, often in urban environments. The expansion of house-farming has not prevented over-harvesting of nests in natural breeding sites which has seriously reduced many wild populations of swiftlets to local extermination. These developments represent a novel form of domestication of a bird, the first time that this process can be monitored scientifically. Beyond these obvious fields of economically and socially productive science, improved capabilities of molecular genetics have opened the door to ground-breaking research into the systematics and phylogeny of swiftlets, wild and domesticated.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) academic Prof Dr Yuen Kah Hay presented the research titled “Neuroprotective properties of vitamin E tocotrienols from palm oil: Evidence from cell to animal and human studies”, at the second plenary. Prof Yuen’s research explained that crude palm oil is highly rich in phytonutrients, especially in vitamin E tocotrienols. Palm vitamin E tocotrienols have immense potential in the preventive management of such neurodegenerative disorders, and to provide opportunities for enhanced cooperation between science and society. Tocotrienols but not tocopherols, have been shown to possess neuroprotective properties. At nanomolar concentrations, alpha-tocotrienol was able to block glutamate induced neuronal cell death by modulating chemical signals within the neuronal cells. More recently, in a double-blind placebo controlled human study, it demonstrated that the tocotrienols could significantly attenuate the progression of brain white matter lesions (WMLs) compared to placebo. WMLs are abnormal hyperintense regions observed in MRI T2-weighted sequences of the brain. Often detected in elderly people, these lesions are attributed to pathological changes in the small blood vessels of the brain, leading to chronic hypoperfusion and ischemic damage in the white matter. They reflect a spectrum of neuropathological changes with tissue damage of varying severity. Recent studies have shown that WMLs are strongly associated with neurodegenerative diseases which give rise to cognitive dysfunction, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The third plenary saw University of Greenwich, UK academic Dr Chan Jin Hooi presenting his research titled “Sustainable Innovation and Social Entrepreneur in Biodiversity Related Sectors”. Dr Chan highlighted the abundance of potential in using innovations in the knowledge pertaining to the environment and biodiversity. It is the businesses’ mission to challenge the current business world, and to initiate and facilitate behavioural changes of the general public leading to sustainable development. Social entrepreneurship is a movement well suited to this era with great social and environmental challenges. He also explained that an entrepreneur needs to combine the passion of a social/environmental mission but also need to operate in a business-like manner. Nonetheless, social entrepreneurship is a larger and more active movement particularly involving young people and technology. Social entrepreneurship involves new thinking, new types of organisations in both traditional and emerging sectors such as bio-resources related and conservation. The entrepreneurs need to challenge existing business models and also to think about new business models and practices. Innovations in business models and practices are essential, in addition to sustainable innovations in sciences and technologies.

Deepening understanding through Keynote sessions

At the first keynote session, University of Nottingham Malaysia academic Prof Dr Asgar Ali discussed the potential of advanced technologies in delaying ripening and extending postharvest life and reducing postharvest disease of tropical fruits and vegetables, through his research titled “The Role of Postharvest Technology in Achieving Food Security”. The research explained that, according to the United Nations, current world population is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050 and food production will have to increase by 70% to meet the food and nutrition needs of the rising population. One strategy for increasing the food available to feed the ever-increasing population is to ensure proper and better utilization of the food that is already produced. It is estimated that one third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chains from production to consumption stage globally. This translates into 1.3 billion metric tons of the total volume of the food produced. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that annual food losses and wastes (FLW) worldwide worth about US 2.6 trillion (including energy, water and workforce required), which is approximately 5% of the world GDP. The reduction of FLW is an important strategy to ensure food and nutritional security in efficient and sustainable food systems. Therefore, an urgent need exists for a concerted effort at national, regional, and global levels to reduce FLW. New technologies are being developed to prevent food waste - one of the most straightforward 'wins' to achieve global food supply. In developing countries, as much as half of harvested crops are lost between the field and consumer. Pilot scale studies are being carried out here in collaboration with industry to develop an edible coating technology.

The second keynote session saw Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia academician Prof Dr Iskandar Z. Siregar discussing on the current progress on genetic studies (e.g. marker based and field trial based) of several promising forest tree species (e.g. dipterocarps and non-dipterocarps) and their practical implications to conservation management, silvicultural practices and other forms of utilization (i.e. breeding), through his research titled “Genetic Consideration and Sustainable Forest Management in the Tropics: Lessons Learned from Indonesia”. He explained that efforts to meet sustainability principles in tropical forest management require sufficient verified knowledge products on ecological and socio-economic aspects. Within the context of knowledge management cycle, the significant results on ecology and biodiversity research are necessary to be captured, documented, verified and finally adopted by the respective users (i.e. policy makers, practitioners and academician) in order to sustain the innovation in forestry sector. In Indonesia and other tropical countries, however, researchers often observed significant gaps in knowledge management to enhance the utilization of research outputs, particularly genetic research on priority forest tree species with significant ecological and socio-economic functions. In turn, this condition could lead to the ad-hoc policy formulation. Through long term research on various genetic aspects of priority tree species in Indonesia (e.g. genetic inventory, population genetics and breeding), the researchers attempt to interface between science and policy with various lessons learned.

Universiti Putra Malaysia academician Dr Chee Hui Yee presented her research titled “Genetic Diversity of Rhinovirus C3’ Non-coding Region” at the third keynote session. The aim of her research was to investigate the genetic diversity of RV-C 3’ non-coding region (NCR) which is involves in virus replication with respect to primary sequence (linear sequence) and secondary structure via bioinformatics analyses. She explained that respiratory disease is the most prevalent viral disease in humans and Rhinovirus (RV), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Human Enterovirus (HEV) and Influenza Virus (IFV) are among those viruses causing respiratory tract infection. RVs have been reported to be one of the viruses that frequently associated with respiratory tract infections. There are 3 groups of RV, RV-A, RV-B and RV-C where RV-C has been reported in causing more critical illnesses and exacerbations of asthma. A similar domain Y was identified in RV-C primary sequences although pairwise similarity of these sequences demonstrated a huge difference. Each RV-C member showed a minimal conserved stem-loop secondary structure that derived from 3’ NCR sequence. Based on the numbers of loop (apical loop and interior loop) in secondary structure, a potential grouping of RV-C was suggested. A relative conserve motif, AUNUNNNA was identified in RV-C 3’ NCR, while UAG codon was frequently seen in the loop sequence of RV-C 3’ NCR secondary structure. Due to lack of disease severity information for sequences retrieved from Genbank, relationship of the suggested RV-C grouping in the present study and disease severity was not able to be elucidated. In turn, the current information will be able to provide additional insight for future study on the functional impact of sequence and structural differences of RV-C to illustrate the potential relationship of 3’ NCR sequences and disease severity.

Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz from University of Nottingham Malaysia, at the fourth keynote session reflected about the learnings from almost 10 years of work of The Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), an interdisciplinary project run as a collaboration between local wildlife authorities and university researchers that aims to bring an evidence-based approach to the conservation of Malaysian elephants, through his research titled “What Will It Take to Conserve Wild Elephants in Peninsular Malaysia”. Participants learnt that elephants and other megafauna play key and irreplaceable roles in ecosystem processes but, due to their high demand for resources and lack of natural predators, are maladapted to the current human-dominated world. For megafauna to survive beyond the bottleneck of the 21st century, business as usual is not an option and there is a need to find effective ways to coexist with them. Therefore, the research also listed a few key issues for the successful conservation of elephants in Peninsular Malaysia are: (1) to protect more elephant habitat as Protected Areas (PA), since less than 6% of Peninsular Malaysia is formally gazetted as a PA; (2) to promote connectivity between these PAs and other forest habitats, which would require the implementation of the existing Central Forest Spine (CFS) land-use Masterplan; (3) to mitigate human-elephant conflict, which is likely to increase as elephant habitat becomes more fragmented; and (4) need to reconsider Federal-State Government relationships in order to effectively achieve the three previous points.

Prof Dr Kang Ming, from South China Botanical Garden, China, with his research titled “Past Climatic Change as A Driver of Plant Diversification in the Karst Ecosystems from Southern China” demonstrated that past monsoon activity is positively correlated with speciation rate in East Asia. The case study could also motivate further investigations to assess the impacts of past environmental changes on the origin and diversification of biodiversity in global karst ecosystems, most of which are under threat. In depth, the research explained that Karst ecosystems in southern China are species-rich and have high levels of endemism, yet little is known regarding the evolutionary processes responsible for the origin and diversification of karst biodiversity. The genus Primulina (Gesneriaceae) comprises ca. 170 species endemic to southern China with high levels of ecological (edaphic) specialization, providing an exceptional model to study the plant diversification in karsts. We used molecular data from 20 regions (9 chloroplast and 11 nuclear) and macro evolutionary analyses to assess the origin and cause of species diversification due to paleo environmental changes and edaphic specialization in Primulina. We found that speciation was positively associated with changes in past temperatures and East Asian monsoons through the evolutionary history of Primulina. The climatic change around the mid-Miocene triggered an early burst followed by a slowdown of diversification rate towards the present with the climate cooling. The researchers also detected different speciation rates among edaphic types, and transitions among soil types were infrequently and did not impact the overall speciation rate. Findings suggest that both global temperature changes and East Asian monsoons have played crucial roles in the floristic diversification within the karst ecosystems in southern China, such that speciation was higher when climate was warmer and wetter.

Dr Alice Catherine Hughes from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China presented at the sixth keynote session, with her research titled “Biodiversity Threats in the Asian Tropics”. Her research explored the main threats to the regions biodiversity, evaluating their relative impact and exploring the prognosis for different parts of the region. Much of Asia has reached a point of almost no return with much of its native biodiversity, with rates of undocumented road building in many parts of the region (i.e. 90% or roads in central Kalimantan are unmapped) symptomatic of the rapid rates of deforestation, and the rapid exploitation of native resources and species in these regions. The research also explored the various threats to the regions biodiversity, and discussed which ecosystems, species and regions are most at risk. She also discussed priorities for action and implementation using various approaches, and the major barriers to implementing the necessary policy and management protocols to secure a future for the regions biodiversity. Dr Alice also discussed the relative responsibilities of the West, as the end-buyers of many products and the role of intergovernmental agreements in trying to enforce various regulations (i.e. SDGs, Aichi targets) to try to change the trajectory of this region, and its threatened biota.

Meanwhile from UTAR, Prof Peter Ooi Aun Chuan, with his research titled “Rich Biodiversity Helps Keep Invasive Insects from Becoming Serious Pest Problems” discussed how recent invasive insect pests are kept in check in Malaysia at the seventh keynote session. His research explained that insect pests from native oil palms quickly transferred to the newly introduced oil palm from Cameroons. However, it was soon found that the natural enemies, one of four agro biodiversity components that kept the insects in check as they did so on native palms. There were some evidence on the role of agro-biodiversity in keeping insect pests of oil palm in check. These fortuitous biological controls were studied with the invasive pests Aleyrodicusdispersus and Heteropsyllacubana. Studies showed that native coccinellids fed on these invasive pests and their impacts were reduced as a result.

Spurring academic exchanges through symposiums

Symposium 1: Fundamentals of Biodiversity (click to read the abstracts) consisted of:

Khairul Azri Nazari (USM, Malaysia)


Research title: Species Diversity and Abundance of Tropical Bats in Lenggong, Perak

Dr Lin Li (SCIB, China)


Research title: Thuniopsis: A New Orchid Genus and Phylogeny of the Tribe Arethuseae (Orchidaceae)

Dr Shixiao Luo (SCGB, China)


Research title: Pollination Mutualism between Leafflowers (Phyllanthaceae) and Leafflowers Moths (Gracillariidae): Phylogenetic Approaches and EcologicalNetwork

Dr Shi-Jin Li (SCIB, China)


Research title: The Taxonomy of Dalbergia in Asia

Dr Chong Kwek Yan (NUS, Singapore)


Research title: Soil, Hydrology, and Biomass in a Remnant Tropical Freshwater Swamp Forest

Dr Wen Ye (SCGB, China)


Research title: Gaolejeunea (lejeuneaceae, Marchantiophyta), a New and Endanger Genus from China

Priscillia Miard (USM, Malaysia)


Research title: Distribution and Bioacoustic Assessment of Nocturnal Arboreal Mammals in Peninsular Malaysia

Affan Nasruddin Roshidi (UKM, Malaysia)


Research title: Effect of Island Attributes on Diversity and Composition of Bird Species on Land-bridge Islands: A Case Study in Hulu Terengganu Hydroelectric Dam

Dr Sian E. W. Davies 
(University of Warwick Science Park, UK)


Research title: Next Generation Sequencing as a Critical Tool in Avian Phylogenetics: DNA Evidence Sheds New Light on Polymorphism among White-bellied Swiftlets of the Collocaliaesculenta Group (Aves, Apodidae, Collocaliini)

Chan Kok Sim (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Comparison of the Diet Profiles of the House Farm Swiftlets (Aves, Apodidae, Aerodramus sp.) in Four Landscapes in Perak, Malaysia

Suganiya Rama Rao (Sunway University, Malaysia)


Research title: Comparison of Two Molecular Markers for Investigating the Population Genetic Diversity of Pomaceacanaliculata from Peninsular Malaysia

Dr Jamilah Mohd Salim (UMT, Malaysia)


Research title: Potentially Invasive and Alien Plant Species Around Us: Are We Aware?

Dr Hang Hui Kong (SCBG, China)


Research title: Different Species or Genetically Divergent Populations? Integrative Species Delimitation of the Primulinahochiensis Complex from Isolated Kart Habitats

Dr Tieyao Tu (SCBG, China)


Research title: Phylogeny and Diversification of the genus Phanera (Leguminosae)

Symposium 2: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (click to read the abstracts) consisted of:

Nik Siti Aishah (UMT, Malaysia)


Research title: Sustainable Mud Crab Fishery Based on Local Ecological Knowledge of Crabber in Setiu Wetlands, Terengganu

Dr Wong Ching Lee (Taylor’s University, Malaysia)


Research title: Harnessing the Potential of Malaysian Brown Seaweed Resource

Dr Kustiariyah Tarman (Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia)


Research title: Marine Fungi of Indonesian Waters and Their Potential Uses in Hydrolysis of Seaweeds for Carrageenan Production

Huai En Hah (Sunway University, Malaysia)


Research title: Pest or Guest? Ecological Associations of Invasive Apple Snails in Peninsular Malaysia

Dr Wini Trilaksani (Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia)


Research title: Profiling of Acid and Hydrothermal Soluble Collagen Extracted from Swim Bladder of Yellow-pike Conger (Muraenesoxtalabon)

Dr Chang Ying Ping (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Antioxidative Enzymes in Plant Leaves: Protective or Complementary

Dr Wong Wey Lim (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Functional Morphology of Antenna and Ovipositor of Anagrusincarnatosimilis (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) in Association with Host-searching Behaviour

Dr Loh Pek Chin (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Isolation and Molecular Characterisation of Bacteriophages against PhytopathogenicPantoea spp. on Rice Plants

Aref Atan (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: The Effects of Red and Blue LED Lights on the Growth of a Freshwater Microalgae, Chlorella vulgaris

Wong Sian Sang (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Host-searching Behaviour of Pseudoligositayasumatsui (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae), Egg Parasitoid of the Rice Brown Planthopper, NilaparvataLugens

Symposium 3: Biodiversity and Human Health (click to read the abstracts) consisted of:

Jin Min Lee (Monash University, Malaysia)


Research titled: Human Activities Select for Harmful Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) Along an Urban Gradient in Selangor, Malaysia

Prof Dr Ying Wang (SCIB, China)


Research title: Biosynthesis and Regulation of Bioactive Compounds in Chinese HOT Plant – Epimediumsagittatum

Dr Shaohua Zeng (SCBG, China)


Research title: Omics Data Uncovering the Accumulation of Petunidin Derivatives in Fruits of LyciumruthenicumMurr.

Dr Annaletchumy Loganathan (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: Use of Traditional Herbs and the Associated Factors among Patients with Chronic Diseases: A Cross-sectional Survey in a Kampar Health Clinic, Perak

Iriani Setyaningsih (Bogor, Agricultural University, Indonesia)


Research title: In vitro Evaluation of the Mask Incorporated with Extract and Biomass of Spirulinaplatensis and Its Antibacterial Activity

Nur Amiera Syuhada bt Rozman (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: Antimicrobial Efficacy of Volatile and Non-volatile Constituents from Homalomenapineodora, a New Plant Species found in Peninsular Malaysia

Nurhanis Syafiqah Mohd Nor Hamin (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: Punicagranatum L. Extract for Medical Cotton Fabrics – A Natural Remedy of Nosocomial Infections

Dr Tan Wen Nee (USM, Malaysia)


Research title: The Potential of Garciniaatroviridis Essential Oils as Chemotherapeutic Agents

Md Abu Taher (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: Antimicrobial Activities of Endophytic Fungi Residing in Aloe vera against Diabetic Wound Pathogens

Wan Nor Amaliena Wan Ahmad (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: Identification of Potential Antimicrobial Compounds from Entophytic Fungi Isolated from Homalomenapineodora on Diabetic Wound Pathogen

Dr Tong Woei Yenn (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: Nanotechnology Based Drug Delivery System for Bioactive Compounds

Prof Sri Purwaningsih (Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia)


Research title: Characteristics of Preparation for Anticancer Tablets from the Obtuse Horn Shell (CerithideaObtusa)

Dr Leong Chean Ring (UniKL, Malaysia)


Research title: ISG20 Inhibits HBV Replication by Accelerating Decay of HBV Genome

Symposium 4: Biodiversity in Modern Living (click to read the abstracts) consisted of:

Quah Wei Chiang (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: The Effect of Anthropogenic Impacts in Klang Straits on the Feeding Ecology of Fish Larvae

Nurul Amira Izzaty Horsali (UMT, Malaysia)


Research title: Sustainable Community Livelihoods and Setiu Wetlands Natural Resources: What Do We Know so far?

Ng Keat Chuan (UTAR, Malaysia)


Research title: The Application of Ichthyofauna Beta Diversity Metrics for Reflecting Limnological Quality: A Case Study in Kampar Basin, Malaysia

Dr Chew Li Lee (UCSI, Malaysia)


Research title: Anthropogenic Disturbances in Tropical Coastal Waters: What Impacts on Zooplankton Community?

Engaging the public through forum

A public forum titled “Conservation of Biodiversity, A Way Forward for Better Life”, was also held on the second day of the conference. The panellists were Dato Sri Dr Gathorne-Hardy, Dr Chan Ji Hooi and Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, along with moderator Dr Daniel Baskaran. Dato Sri Dr Gathorne-Hardy enlightened participants on ways of approaching policy makers, and ways to influence policy makers in order to get the message out. Meanwhile, Dr Ahmisa shed light on the need to protect megafauna, like elephants, because megafauna is important for forest conservation. Graphs and charts were also used to support the need for conservation of megafauna.

Dr Chan asked the participants “What can we contribute as individuals?” and explained on sustainable socio-technical transitions.  He also mentioned that sustainable innovation, a process where sustainability considerations (environmental, social, and financial) are integrated into company systems from idea generation through to research and development, and commercialisation, is very much focused in the present time. He used the example of conservationist using the virtual reality (VR) technology to enable the public to see the beauty of the Amazon forest, and help encouraged sustainable efforts from public. The Q&A session also led to interesting discussions on matters, such as management of resources; the need for improving quality of life and managing human consumption; and education method to encourage participants from the younger generation in conservation efforts.

Industrial experts were also present for the industrial talk, which included Orbiting Scientific and Technology Sdn Bhd on “Mercury Analysis and Danger of Mercury Poisoning”; Matrix Optics (M) Sdn Bhd on “Digital Microscopy”; Ligno Biotech Sdn Bhd on “Tapping into Malaysian Biodiversity”; and Hi Tech Instruments Sdn Bhd on “Low kV High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy”.

“I enjoyed this conference, particularly on the note that I have gained more information on molecular genetics, forest species and tropical species, which will be very helpful for my current research projects,” commented Amaliena Ahmad, from UniKL MICET, Malacca.

Meanwhile, Miera Rozman and Hanis Syafiqah from UniKL MICET mentioned that they received feedback to improve their researches, and meeting other researchers at the conference had enabled them to get research assistance as well as forging potential collaborations.

The closing ceremony, held on 10 October 2018, marked the end of the conference. Present at the conference were Faculty of Science Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng and Director of South China Botanical Garden Prof Dr Wang Ying, organising committee, speakers and participants.

“I am very grateful to the local organisers for organising this conference. Without the local support, we would not be here. Altogether from China, 12 delegates participated in this conference. We are indeed happy because we were able to explore the rich biodiversity of Perak. This conference is truly a good platform for an exchange of knowledge and for building meaningful friendships. More so, we are able to extend our networks with UTAR and other local researchers,” said Prof Wang Ying.

Meanwhile, Dr Lim, in his speech commented, “The three-day discussion on various aspects of tropical biodiversity has opened up avenues for future actions and collaborations in a new network. In the pursuit and competition of development many precious ecosystems have been destroyed out of human greed, selfishness and ignorance. The perpetrators have forgotten that we share the planet with other living things, who have the equal right to survive. A break in the chain of life will trigger a domino effect, which may not be immediate or conspicuous. We must fulfil our duty; the trust inherited from our ancestors to protect the environment, and eventually pass down to future generations, hopefully in a better condition.”

Dr Lim continued, “Though the conference ends today, moving forward from here, we should make concerted efforts to influence those around us, not restricted to politicians, about conservation and protection of the environment and its biodiversity. I also take this opportunity to thank the organising committee for their hard work in making this gathering possible. They have worked for two years in preparing for this conference. I also thank the sponsors who have supported this event financially. Thank you to the participants as well, for sharing your enthusiasm at this conference.”

The winners for best oral presentations and best poster were also announced and awarded at the closing ceremony. The winners’ list is as below:

Best Oral Presenters:

Champion: Dr Kong Hang Hui (SCBG, China)

Different Species or Genetically Divergent Populations? Integrative Species Delimitation of the Primulina hochiensis Complex from Isolated Kart Habitats

1st Runner Ups:

Dr Tong Woei Yenn (UniKL, Malaysia)

Nanotechnology Based Drug Delivery System for Bioactive Compounds

Syafiqah Mohd Nor Hamin (UniKL, Malaysia)

Punica Granatum L. Extract for Medical Cotton Fabrics – A Natural Remedy of Nosocomial Infections

2nd Runner Ups:

Prof Dr Wang Ying (SCIB, China)

Biosynthesis and Regulation of Bioactive Compounds in Chinese HOT Plant – Epimedium sagittatum

Dr Chew Li Lee (UCSI, Malaysia)

Anthropogenic Disturbances in Tropical Coastal Waters: What Impacts on Zooplankton Community?

Best Poster Presenters (click to read the abstracts of posters presented):

Champion: Fuh Nien-Tse (Tunghai University, Taiwan)

How call properties and territory qualities affect male mating success and egg hatching rate in Kurixalus Eiffingeri

1st Runner Up: Tham Yong Yao (UTAR, Malaysia)

The effect of lauric acid on glucose uptake, glucose transporters and reactive oxygen species production in insulin-resistant macrophages

2nd Runner Up: Dang Tin Tin (UTAR, Malaysia)

Effect of diet variation on the sialic acid content and nutrition composition of Malaysian gastropod (Achatina fulica) slime

In line with UTAR’s commitment in invigorating intellectual pursuits through research and innovation, CBR has been consistently organising symposiums, seminars as well as workshops such as the Agriculture Technology Seminar Series, JPA/JSPA/UTAR Seminar on Physiological Anthropology, UTAR National Postgraduate Fundamental and Applied Sciences Seminar, and Agriculture Technology Workshop with the mission to promote multi-disciplinary research, product development and training of personnel in priority areas to drive local industries towards sustainable utilization of natural resources. CBR also focuses on housing research in biodiversity and bioresources; coordinating collaborative research among groups; enabling strategic alliances with local and foreign partners; promoting development of Biodiversity Park; matching expertise and services to needs of industry and community; and developing human resource in key research areas. CBR’s key research areas are Aquaculture and Aquatic Biodiversity, Natural Products, and Plant Biotechnology. 

To view more photos, click here.

Intervarsity Science Symposium

Following the success of the UTAR Intervarsity Science Symposium (UISS) in 2016, UTAR’s Centre for Bio-Diversity Research (CBR), Faculty of Science (FSc), Institute of Postgraduate Studies (IPSR) and Quest International University Perak (QIUP) jointly organised UISS 2018 at Kampar Campus from 4 to 5 August 2018. The seminar saw the active participation of around one hundred undergraduate and postgraduate students from UTAR and other public and private universities in Malaysia.

Held for the third time since 2015, this year the successful seminar saw more than 20 presenters, comprising students from institutions of higher learning, assembling at Kampar Campus to present their R&D findings and research experiences in different fields, namely chemistry, biological sciences, agriculture, food science and health sciences.

Organising Chairperson of UISS 2018 Dr Tey Lai Hock expressed his gratitude to the speakers and the many sponsors for their support to UISS. He explained, “The objective of this symposium is to provide an opportunity to both undergraduate and postgraduate students to promote their research to the public via poster and oral presentation. Through this symposium, the students will be able to interact with the expertise from the industrial and academic sectors. It is indeed a great meeting for developing the careers of young researchers at the interface of the life sciences.”

In his speech, CBR Chairperson Dr Wong Wey Lim congratulated the organising committee for making the symposium a success and extended his warm welcome to the presenters and participants. He added, “Scientific advances and technological development have become inevitable in changing and improving our everyday life. Novel ideas and knowledge are disseminated across society and network at national and international levels to promote harmony between different scientific researches. It is believed that multi-disciplinary research is one of the key solutions to address some of the global issues. Today, this symposium, with the theme ‘Science for the Present and Future’ will provide a sharing platform for researchers, students, industry and related stakeholders to exchange their latest knowledge in formulating and creating novel scientific developments for the benefits of humankind.”

Chairperson of the Event Organising Partner-cum-Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology of QIUP Prof Dr Vilasini Pillai said, “QIUP is indeed very glad to co-organise this symposium with UTAR which provides a multinational platform to present and discuss latest trends in science and technology in a friendly environment. We are committed to playing a significant role in building and strengthening QIUP’s relationship with the broader science community. With the theme ‘Sciences for the Present and Future’, this symposium aims to promote quality research in recent developments in the fields of life sciences, biotechnology and chemistry. Outstanding breakthroughs in these areas have tremendous potential to support and achieve sustainable development goals, enhance public health delivery and environmental protection activities.”

FSc Dean Assoc Prof Dr Lim Tuck Meng enthused, “I would like to congratulate the organising committee for making this symposium possible. My appreciations also go to the invited speakers who have shared the same vision with the organiser and also to the sponsors for their financial support.” He added, “Postgraduate studies are seen as apprenticeship whereby the candidates are required to hone their research skills in terms of knowledge and techniques. In addition to that, to be a successful researcher, one has to add in communication, planning and time management skills. Taking part in conferences and symposiums would provide young postgraduates the necessary exposures and opportunities to receive comments on their findings and also pick up some tips to improve their researches.”

The plenary speakers for the two-day symposium were Prof Dr Wong Ling Shing from INTI International University Malaysia, Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Fadzil Shuhaimi bin Ramli from QIUP, Dr Koh Yew Ming from KL-Kepong Oleochemical Group, Assoc Prof Dr Kumaran Narayanan from Monash University Malaysia, Dr Meilina Ong Abdullah from Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Loy Hao Chih from RGS Corporation Sdn Bhd, Prof Dr Son Radu from Universiti Putra Malaysia, Dr Khomaizon Abdul Kadir Pahirulzaman from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Sinouvassane Djearamane from UTAR. Among the topic presented were “The Detection of Heavy Metals in Water Using Photosynthetic Microbes”, “Protein Consumption: Are We Eating Fish Wisely?”, “Food Analyst Act and Regulation: The Way Forward”, “Gene Delivery into Mammalian Cells Using Bacteria as a Vector”, “Technology-driven Oil Palm Cultivation for a Sustainable Future”, “The Importance of Analytical Instrument for Chemistry and Elemental Testing”, “Food Safety: A Winnable Battle”, “Reconstructing Biosynthetic Pathways in Aspergillus Oryzae” and “Cytotoxicity of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles on Nutrient Microalga” respectively.

Besides the enriching talks, the elevating symposium also saw a total of 20 oral presentations and 23 poster presentations. The two-day symposium officially came to an end after an announcement of winners for the best oral and poster presentations. The list of winners is as follows:

Best Oral Presentation Award – Postgraduate: Toh Wai Keat (UTAR)

Best Oral Presentation Award – Undergraduate: Lee Wei Hang (UTAR)

Best Poster Award – Postgraduate: Tor Xin Yen (UTAR)

Best Poster Award – Undergraduate: Ow Yu Wei (QIUP) and Visantini Permal (QIUP)

UISS 2018 was supported and sponsored by UTAR, QIUP, RGS Corporation Sdn Bhd, IKA, Gaia Science, Impian Bonus Sdn Bhd and ASEPTEC. 

                                                                                                       The participants and speakers  

Participants exchanging information with industrial representatives

Short introduction and interaction between the poster presenters and the panel of judges.

Dr Tey (second row, fourth from right) and Prof Vilasini (second row, sixth from right) with presentation winners and their respective supervisors.