SEARCA recognizes outstanding professors through the Regional Professorial Chair Award

  • 4 June 2024

SEARCA recognizes outstanding professors through the Regional Professorial Chair Award

Six outstanding experts from 30 nominees in Southeast Asia received the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Award for Academic Year 2024–25. SEARCA is recognizing these academics for the impacts of their research, instruction, and innovation efforts and in supporting agricultural and rural development in the region.

The grantees are Prof. William Chen Wei Ning from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore; Prof. Muhammad Ikhwanuddin Abdullah of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) in Malaysia; Prof. Sri Suhartini from Universitas Brawijaya (UB), Indonesia; Assoc. Prof. Sarana Sommano of Chiang Mai University (CMU), Thailand; Prof. Alan P. Dargantes of Central Mindanao University (CMU), and Prof. Vachel Gay V. Paller from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), both from the Philippines. Each of them is entitled to a grant of USD 5,000.00.

Prof. Dr. William Chen Wei NingProf. Dr. William Chen Wei Ning is from the School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Biotechnology. He was awarded the Regional Professorial Chair for his contributions to the field of food science. Prof. Chen serves as the director of various programs such as the Food Science and Technology Programme (NTU FST) in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research, the Singapore Agri-food Innovation Lab (SAIL) funded by Enterprise Singapore, and the Singapore Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH), a tripartite partnership among NTU, Singapore Food Agency, and A*STAR. He was an outstanding mentor to undergraduate and graduate students of NTU, some of whom were recipients of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal and the Koh Boon Hwee Scholar's Awards. Prof. Chen conducts highly interdisciplinary research on developing platforms for food technology innovations. This has led to active joint research and development with the food industry, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. Moreover, Prof. Chen's advocacy on zero waste processing and the Circular Food Economy received coverage from both local and international media, with CNN featuring Prof. Chen as a game-changing leader in the green revolution of the food system. As part of the SEARCA Professorial Chair Award, Prof. Chen will share his research results through a public lecture on Food Technology Innovations for Enhanced Food Security, a Perspective from Singapore.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ikhwanuddin AbdullahProf. Dr. Muhammad Ikhwanuddin Abdullah is the director of the Institute of Tropical Aquaculture and Fisheries at UMT. Due to his extensive research experience in aquaculture reproduction, Prof. Ikhwanuddin has more than 100 publications in scientific journals and book/s chapters, earning him the highest impact factor among Malaysian authors in aquaculture. Prof. Ikhwanuddin also received several academic awards and recognitions including the Ma'al Hijrah Award for Research and Development Category at the State Level of Sarawak 2023, the National Research Grant Award 2022, and the Intellectual Property Innovation Award 2022, both by the Research and Innovation Appreciation Council, among others. Prof. Ikhwanuddin was accorded the Regional Professorial Chair Award in the field of Aquaculture and will deliver his public lecture on Reproduction and Hatchery Technology for Sustainable Portunidae Crab Aquaculture and Capture Fishery.

Prof. Dr. Sri SuhartiniProf. Dr. Sri Suhartini is the head of the Department of Agro-industrial Technology, Faculty of Agricultural Technology at UB. Prof. Suhartini completed a postdoctoral stint as a research associate in bioenergy at Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom. This experience improved her analytical skills and strengthened her professional career in conducting collaborative research across the region. She has earned several awards, including the Inspirational Women Researcher in Sustainable Energy and Environment Award in 2023 and as the National Finalist for the ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women, representing the Indonesian women researcher. With more than 100 publications in scientific journals, she was recognized by UB as the first lecturer with the highest number of publications in Scopus-indexed journals and the 2nd highest "3-year Science and Technology Index (SINTA) Score". Prof. Suhartini was awarded the Regional Professorial Chair in the field of agro-industrial and environmental engineering, and she will share her work through a public lecture on Integrated Technology of Anaerobic Digestion and Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Larvae Cultivation for Creation of Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture and Agroindustry in Indonesia.

Dr. Sarana SommanoDr. Sarana Sommano is an associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture at CMU. From her research studies in sustainable food production, she has over 100 publications in scientific journals and books/book chapters and has a Scopus index of 21. Assoc. Prof. Sommano was invited as a visiting professor in several well-known universities in the region, including Università de Foggia in Italy and Yamagata University in Japan. In 2010, Assoc. Prof. Sarana received the People's Choice Award at a 3-Minute Thesis Competition by the School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia. For her Professorial Chair Award, Assoc. Prof. Sommano will deliver a public lecture on the Recovery of Value-adding Components from Agro-food Biomass: the Bio Circular Green Approach of the Thai Agri-food Industry.

Prof. Dr. Alan P. DargantesProf. Dr. Alan P. Dargantes is the vice president for Research, Development, and Extension at CMU with over 30 years of experience in teaching and research, including 15 years as faculty administrator. His contributions to the field of veterinary epidemiology and disease ecology had a significant impact on animal and public health in the Philippines and other ASEAN countries. Prof. Dargantes has received various awards, including the Most Outstanding Veterinarian in Extension in 2023 for his exemplary performance in community and extension services. As part of the Regional Professorial Chair Award, Prof. Dargantes will deliver a public lecture on Understanding the Epidemiology, Financial Losses, and Smallholder Farmers' Perspectives on African Swine Fever (ASF) in Southern Philippines towards its Control.

Prof. Dr.  id=Prof. Dr. Vachel Gay V. Paller is the director of the Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences at UPLB. Prof. Paller was awarded the Regional Professorial Chair in the field of parasitology and will deliver her public lecture on Agricultural Intensification and Zoonoses Emergence: Utilizing One Health Framework to Assess Management Practices in Agricultural Landscapes. She led several research projects in parasitology at both the national and international levels, such as the 7 LAMPS Program: Seven Lakes Assessment and Monitoring for Sustainable Lake Ecosystems and the FRESH FARMS Program: Food Risk and Safety Analysis of Agricultural Farms towards Improvement of Control Strategies for Food Safety, both funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the ZooTRIP Project: Zoonotic Transmission of Intestinal Parasites: Implications for Control and Elimination, in collaboration with the University of Surrey and funded by the Newton-Agham Programme. Prof. Paller also received numerous recognitions including the UP Science Productivity Award (as UP Scientist 3), the DOST-NRCP Achievement Award in Biological Sciences, and the UPLB Outstanding Researcher (Senior Category, Natural Sciences).

The SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Award is an annual recognition given to outstanding academic professionals in Southeast Asia who have significantly contributed to their respective fields of study toward Accelerating Transformation through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN). Candidates for the award must be nominated by the head of their respective institutions. Since the academic year 2012–13, the Center has conferred the Award to 62 highly competent recipients.