The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), through its Education and Collective Learning Department (ECLD), hosted an online special graduate seminar on the "Physical and metabolomics approaches of purple passion fruit (Passiflora edulis Sims) during growth and development" on 26 May 2023. Dr. Shahidah binti Md. Nor, a DAAD*-SEARCA alumna and senior lecturer at the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, delivered the seminar. This initiative is part of her dissertation requirements.
Dr. Shahidah is motivated to help the small industries in Malaysia, especially the small-scale farmers improve their agriculture output. The purple passion fruit shows great potential in strengthening Malaysia's revenue as the passion fruit grows well in tropical climates and can be mass cultivated. However, the fruit remains underrated, and its phytochemical changes are unknown. Dr. Shahidah's study contributed to bridging this gap by characterizing the growth and development of the fruit. Her research presented the fruit's optimal harvesting stage and highlighted that the entire fruit compartment could be utilized for industrial products. These findings can help maximize agricultural output. Moreover, the fruit is also advantageous for small-scale farmers because it can be cultivated in a shorter period than other long-term crops and does not require a large space.
Aside from discussing her research results, Dr. Shahidah also shared her experience and journey as a multi-awarded SEARCA scholar. Her awards received included her research attachment in Germany, her numerous publications, and her Chrysalis Award, which is given to individuals with remarkable contributions to Malaysia's science, technology, innovation, and economic ecosystem.
Held once every semester, the special graduate seminar highlights SEARCA scholars' outstanding research outputs from their graduate theses. The event is the Center's way of supporting the scholars' academic milestones and recognizing their capacity to produce quality research that greatly impacts agricultural and rural development (ARD). Other learning events offered by SEARCA to scholars include the GSID Conversations, customized training programs, and the SEARCA Scholars' Conference. These activities are part of SEARCA's bigger, better, and smarter scholarship package supporting the capacity building of future leaders of ARD in the region.
*DAAD stands for Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst, also known as German Academic Exchange Service in English