Five researchers and academicians of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) were awarded with research grants under ASEAN University Network Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/Seed-Net) Special Program for Research Against COVID-19 (SPRAC).

The five lucky researchers are Dr. Farhana Aziz who is currently serving at Advanced Membrane Technology Research Centre (AMTEC) and the other four, Dr. Khairunnisa Mohd Paad, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhamad Ali Muhammad Yuzir, Dr. Mohd Fitri Mohd Yakub, and Dr. Zool Hilmi Ismail who together serving at Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), UTM Kuala Lumpur.

The amount of the research grants being awarded are USD 26, 960.00 (RM 111,900.35) for Dr. Farhana Aziz, USD 50,000.00 (RM 207,543.87) for Dr. Khairunnisa, USD 49,855.00 (RM 206,842.20) for Assoc. Prof. Muhamad Ali Muhammad Yuzir, USD 35,715 (RM148,174.80) for Dr. Mohd Fitri Mohd Yakub and USD50,000.00 (RM 207,447.25) for Dr. Zool Hilmi Ismail.

In early 2020, COVID-19 has swept across the globe and posed serious threats to nations worldwide. Amidst this global health crisis, AUN/SEED-Net has shared grave concerns with the people around the world and was determined to contribute its expertise and support to alleviate the situation.

With the collaboration from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the AUN/SEED-Net has decided to launch a new research support program, “Special Program for Research against COVID-19 (SPRAC)” in response to the pandemic crisis. The program aims for research outputs in any engineering fields or interdisciplinary areas of research that revolve around COVID-19.

SPRAC offers opportunities for research collaboration between Member Institutions (MIs), Japanese Supporting Universities (JSUs), industry, and external partners among ASEAN, Japan, South Asia, and Africa.

The program also reflects the core value and objective of Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIP) and ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific Initiative where stability and prosperity of the international community would be reached through trans-continental cooperation.

Among the objectives of SPRAC program are mainly to support research collaboration in novel engineering and interdisciplinary ideas, methods, tools and technologies that exhibit potential contribution to counter COVID-19 outbreak, including prevention and preparation for future outbreaks.

It was also conducted to support research collaboration that provides solutions to economic and social issues/problems caused by COVID-19 pandemic and also intended to strengthen the human network among researchers.