Tribune News Network
Student participants from the second cycle of Qatar University’s National Science Promotion Programme (NSPP) praised it as highly beneficial, saying the programme offered them a unique environment to build and refine their research, metacognitive, critical and design thinking skills to continue towards a bright career in research.
The NSPP is a research programme launched by Qatar University Young Scientists Centre in alliance with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (VPRGS), aiming at providing an exceptional opportunity to high school and undergraduate students in Qatar by involving them in research grant projects.
The students participated in high-priority national research pertaining to the green energy generation from polylactic acid fibre nanocomposites (under the supervision of Dr. Deepalakshmi Ponnamma, College of Arts & Sciences), a novel treatment for sepsis-induced cardiac inflammation (under the guidance of Dr Zaid Hussain Hassan, College of Pharmacy), environment-friendly leaf ethanolic extract against penicillium infections in citrus fruits (under Prof Mohammed Abu-Deiyeh, College of Arts & Sciences), design and development of a dynamic vibration absorber (under Dr Asan Abdul Muthalif, College of Engineering), mapping the biodiversity of ants fauna in Qatar (under Dr Fatima Al-Khayat, College of Arts & Sciences), and investigation on the development of atherosclerosis (under Prof Hesham Korashy, College of Pharmacy).
Most of them shared their viewpoints regarding the skills attained during the programme, with one student noting, “We have gained many sophisticated technical skills while working on the projects, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) safety, and instrumentation skills such as using micropipettes, centrifuges, incubators, etc., which we could have never learned before entering university.”Another student said, “Research is a trial and error method, and I have understood that patience during research is the key to success.”
While another student stated, “I am not sure if I will opt for STEM disciplines or perform research in my future, but this experience has definitely helped me perceive things from a divergent perspective, to better comprehend the challenges we face, and conquer them with a logical, practical, research approach.”
Besides the experiences shared by the high school students, undergraduates were also delighted with the NSP programme. They not only participated in the research project but were also involved in near-peer mentoring and assessment of high school students, acting as their secondary mentors.
Correspondingly the research mentors (PhDs) of these students also testified that they could see a huge difference in the students’ attitudes and most of them had already started to ‘think like a researcher.’ Furthermore, the research mentors highly endorsed continuing the programme for the benefit of high school students and undergraduates.
In this context, Prof Noora Jabor Al-Thani, director of the Qatar University Young Scientists centre, expressed her pride saying, “I am glad that this programme is highly recommended by the research community and our team believes in the programme’s capability to create a more equitable, inclusive and leakproof STEM pipeline.” She also noted that the programme has the potential to refine the research competencies of the young community and it is anticipated to reinforce promising outputs for human welfare.