The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has awarded 52 Pakistani researchers and scholars for their outstanding work in the spheres of research, innovation and publication during the ceremony of 7th HEC Outstanding Research Awards held at HEC Secretariat.

HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri was the chief guest on the occasion, while University of Haripur Vice-Chancellor Dr Anwar-ul-Hassan Gillani was the guest of honour. The ceremony was also attended by HEC Executive Director Lt. Gen. (R) Muhammad Asghar, International Islamic University Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai, HEC Research Awards Management Committee Chairman Dr Zain ul Abdin, HEC Director General (R&D) and several Vice-Chancellors, academicians and faculty members.

Outstanding research awards programme is an initiative to recognise and celebrate the achievements of Pakistani researchers and scholars in research, innovation and publications. The awards are aimed to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of Pakistani faculty and researchers and promote competitive research culture in higher education and R&D institutions.

So far, 213 awards have been conferred in six award ceremonies since 2009. The awards are given in four categories i.e. Best Research Paper, Best Young Research Scholar, Best Innovator, and Best Book.

Dr Yasinzai informed the gathering that as many as 490 applications were received for the four categories, out of which 52 were selected for these awards. He said 37 scholars won Best Research Paper Award, eight won the Best Young Research Scholar Award, one scholar clinched the Best Innovator Award, while six authors bagged the Best Book Award.

Addressing the audience, Dr Banuri congratulated the award winners and wished them good luck in their future endeavours. Quoting Maulana Rumi as saying “the best of Ameers (rulers) is the one who is always at the door of scholars” he stressed that the nature of work of a researcher is, in fact, the real reward of his/her efforts.

He said HEC was trying to move away from the obsession of research papers and certificates with substance. He said researchers and scholars should focus on the substance of their work, as they are the brains of this country.

The chairman identified that Pakistan was confronted with a plethora of problems, including energy crisis, water scarcity, housing shortfall and terrorism. He urged the researchers to come up with solutions to these challenges through their research. He underlined that HEC had introduced several programmes oriented to finding out solutions to national problems.

He said the National Challenge Fund was being launched through which consortia of universities will be able to research on national challenges. Similarly, he added, the Local Challenge Fund had been designed wherein a university will concentrate on solving problems lying unresolved in its vicinity or neighbourhood.

Dr Banuri further said HEC’s Technology Development Fund was aimed at enhancing collaboration between academia and industry to increase productivity, export and employment. He emphasised that academia must assist the textile and other sectors to grow and pave the way for national prosperity.

In his remarks, Dr Gillani said the process of selecting researchers and scholars for Outstanding Research Awards was highly credible, as international and scientific standards were followed to ensure its credibility. “I feel honoured to have worked with HEC. We are lucky to have leaders like Dr Banuri and Asghar who have extensive academic and administrative experience.”

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