SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant
AY 2022-2023

Revolutionizing Agriculture

Pushing the boundaries with UPM's Dr. Helmi Zulhaidi Mohd Shafri

Dr. Helmi Zulhaidi Mohd Shafri is an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of the Remote Sensing and GIS Programme at the Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). He previously served as the Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and the Deputy Dean of Postgraduate Studies at UPM. His excellent achievements in the field of agricultural innovation, specifically in remote sensing and geomatics engineering, afforded him the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant.

Pushing the boundaries with UPM's Dr. Helmi Zulhaidi Mohd ShafriAssoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi's passion for teaching began at a young age. Growing up, he was always fascinated by how people learn and acquire new knowledge. He loved reading and learning new things and was always eager to share his discoveries with others. After completing his undergraduate studies in Land Surveying (Geomatics) at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Melbourne, Australia, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi decided to pursue a career in teaching and research at UPM. He subsequently earned his PhD in Remote Sensing at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom after becoming a junior lecturer for first-year undergraduate students.

Teaching has made a profound difference in Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi's life as it helped him develop a sense of purpose and meaning. It has been a rewarding career and a personal journey of growth and self-discovery. As a lecturer, he had the privilege of becoming a part of his students' journey. He witnessed first-hand the moment a student finally understood a difficult concept or achieved a goal they never thought possible. Knowing that he played a small role in helping them is incredibly rewarding.

Throughout his career, Assoc. Prof. Dr.Helmi sees hard work, perseverance, adaptability, teamwork, communication, and lifelong learning as valuable lessons that the youth should imbibe. It requires a lot of dedication, patience, and hard work to achieve success. There are times when things don't go as planned, and it's easy to get discouraged and give up. Success is also not just about talent but putting in the time and effort required to achieve your goals. It is also important to become adaptable and open to change. Technology and trends constantly evolve, and it's essential to stay current, adapt to new developments, and become open to new ideas and perspectives. Collaboration and teamwork are also vital to achieving common goals. It's not just about working with colleagues and clients but also learning from them and benefitting from their diverse perspectives. Communicating complex ideas and concepts is likewise essential to success as well as staying curious and continuously learning.

Pushing the boundaries with UPM's Dr. Helmi Zulhaidi Mohd Shafri

Besides teaching, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi considers his most significant contribution to be his research on remote sensing and machine learning for various agriculture, environmental, and geomatics applications. This research has the potential to impact many people's lives, particularly in his home country. Remote sensing technology allows data collection from the earth's surface using sensors on aircraft or satellites. This technology can monitor crop growth, detect disease, and measure soil moisture. Machine learning, on the other hand, is a method that uses algorithms and models to automatically identify patterns and make predictions from data. By combining these two fields, Assoc. Prof. Dr.Helmi's research enables the public to analyze large amounts of data and make predictions that can be used to improve agricultural practices and environmental management. As a result, it addresses some of the most pressing issues in his country. Agriculture is a critical sector in Malaysia, and improving agricultural practices can lead to food security and economic development. Additionally, Assoc. Prof. Dr.Helmi's research helps better understand and manage the environment. It can assist in predicting and mitigating the impacts of natural disasters and climate change, and it can help conserve natural resources.

In addition to its practical applications, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi's research has pushed the boundaries of what is possible in his field. It has required him to think creatively, collaborate with other researchers, and use cutting-edge technologies. For Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi, it has been a challenging and rewarding experience.

Pushing the boundaries with UPM's Dr. Helmi Zulhaidi Mohd Shafri

As a recipient of the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi feels honored and grateful for the opportunity to continue his research and contribute to agriculture and food security. He hopes to continue his research by expanding to new regions, conducting more detailed and in-depth studies, and incorporating new technologies and methods. By doing so, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi aims to generate new insights and knowledge that can improve the farmers' livelihood and the sustainability of food systems.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi also plans to use his award to support the professional development of researchers and practitioners by mentoring graduate students, providing training and workshops, and organizing research collaboration and networking opportunities. He also wants to engage with stakeholders and policymakers to promote the uptake and application of his research findings. Assoc. Prof. Dr.Helmi aspires to influence policymaking and decision-making to improve the sustainability of food systems.

As part of the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair grant, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi conducted a public lecture on the "Development of oil palm yield prediction model using advanced geospatial and machine learning techniques" on 22 March 2023 through UPM's Geospatial Information Science Research Centre (GISRC) Webinar Series. His lecture discussed the use of geospatial data and advanced machine learning techniques such as the deployment of the final model which were effective in predicting oil palm yield as per research results. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Helmi also shared the practical application of the model in a user-friendly web-based platform for stakeholders in the industry.