Joint research collects 300 samples

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds


OVER 300 reptiles and amphibians samples were recently collected throughout a 10-day joint research project carried out by the US-based James Madison University (JMU) and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

The joint research project, which took place at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre (KBFSC) in Temburong, was part of UBD’s Global Discovery Programme.

Professor Dr David S McLeod, who headed the delegation of 12 JMU students said, “We were able to collect a good number of samples.

These samples are really important because these would become specimen that would be available to the global community. Once they are catalogued, anyone can access them and they can also access the data that were collected with them (the specimen).These are priceless resources”.

The programme is designed to offer international students an opportunity to experience student life in academic settings.

Professor McLeod said the programme was customized to allow JMU students to discover and experience Brunei’s culture as well as conduct field research.

The JMU delegation members comprised students who volunteered for the programme.

They range from first year students to new graduates.

A Masters student is also part of the delegation that is looking at Brunei as a potential destination for her Masters research.

Professor McLeod said the idea was to bring two groups of students together to be involved in an academic as well as field course that enable them to conduct a simple basic research of their own.

“We have five biological sciences fourth year UBD students who volunteered to come along with us. It is their senior project that we focused on. We built the programme around their senior thesis,” he added.

Associate Professor Ulmar Grafe from Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER) was also a part of the team.

“The goal for Prof Ulmar and I was to have a programme that allowed for exchange of ideas, cultures and the opportunity to conduct research in the field, learning skills and techniques that you don’t get in the classroom setting. We have been able to do all that and it has been really fantastic,” he said.

Professor McLeod said it was important to help the students understand that science “is not something that is done in isolation”.

He added today’s science is a “very international and global endeavour”.

“The best science happen when your draw people with expertise from all over the world.

Everybody is contributing, Ulmar is from Germany and I’m from the US and yet we both work on South East Asian amphibians and reptiles,” he said.

Professor McLeod hoped that the JMU students would get more out of their time in the programme.

“They are not here just as visitors and tourists, but I want them to really get the sense of being in Brunei, what Bruneian culture is and that is the best way to make friendship,” he said, adding the opportunity for JMU students to have been able to participate in the project was fantastic.

Asked about his feedback on the UBD students, Professor McLeod said they “met his expectation”.

“My expectations were definitely met. I got to interact with excellent students who are curious about the world around them, who are willing to take risks and challenges to grow academically and personally,” he said.

He hoped that the programme will continue to enable both universities to build a long-term and mutually benefical relationship.

The Brunei Times