In April 2006 I joined the Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Radiochemistry, University of Innsbruck as a PhD scholar under the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan scholarship programme. Prof. Guenther Bonn, head of the institute was my supervisor and Dr. Guenther Stecher was co-supervisor. In the institute I enjoyed a very friendly research atmosphere and company of faculty and staff members like Dr. Christian Huck, Dr. Rania Bakry, Dr. Matthias Rainer and many other colleagues from Pakistan, Austria, Germany, Thailand, South Africa and other countries of the world. I worked on the “Evaluation of different analytical techniques and development of novel approaches for phytochemical investigations” and completed my PhD with distinction in February 2010. Afterwards I returned to my home country and joined PCSIR, Ministry of Science and Technology as Senior Scientific Officer and then joined the university as Assistant Professor in 2011 and upgraded to Associate Professor in 2013. I have been appointed as Professor in 2018 and currently I am working as Professor and Chairman, Department of Chemistry, University of Swabi, Pakistan.
During my PhD study and after that OeAD supported and is still helping me in a number of ways by providing scholarships for short term research in Austria under the Ernst Mach grant programme, collaborative research grants, arrangement of accommodation and other requirements, organizing tours, social events etc. A PhD study is basically a training of how to plan, perform and manage all the activities of research in achieving its goal under the supervision of a trained person, preparing a researcher to perform research independently in future. In other words, it is a mentor-mentee relationship preparing the next generation of scientists. My experience of collaboration with colleagues from Austria is very friendly, healthy and effective. I learned a lot during my stay in Austria which equipped me not only academically in my research area but also enhanced managerial, leadership and organizing capabilities.
Research is a teamwork activity and will be successful in achieving its aim and objectives if all the elements of the team are properly integrated and coordinated. Collaboration is a way of enhancing ideas, increasing creativity and ethical conduct. Therefore, effective collaboration is necessary for accelerating research. OeAD has been providing this opportunity to establish collaboration with the Austrian universities for research especially for those graduates who graduated from Austria and are now working in the academia in their own countries.
The OeAD programme Cooperation Development Research (Kooperation Entwicklungsforschung - KOEF) provides financial support for establishing and strengthening collaboration in research between the Universities/research institutes of Austria and Universities/research institutes in countries of the Global South. This covers funding for mobility, subsistence costs and costs for material. Aim of KOEF programme is to adopt strategies for the analysis and solution of local challenges and to achieve the Sustainable Developmental Goals (like reducing poverty, good health, quality education, peace, justice and strong institutions, clean water and sanitation etc). In order to strengthen the collaboration and coordination in research and training between the Department of Chemistry, University of Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and the Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Radiochemistry (ACRC); Austrian Drug Screening Institute (ADSI), University of Innsbruck, Austria, I have been awarded a cooperation development research grant for my research project. The project is aimed at the mutual cooperation and coordination for the research focusing on phytochemical (chemical components of plants) screening of the flora of local regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and Innsbruck, Austria and their cosmetological evaluation in order to reach at the safe, effective and non-toxic phytocosmetic products (cosmetics produce from plants). This proposal was coined from the fact that the world is trying to reduce the use of synthetic products and to depend more on the products and ingredients coming from natural resources like plants for especially medicine, food and cosmetics. I was interested to establish a strong scientific coordination and collaboration with colleagues from Austrian institutes in my relevant field enabling me to contribute and to serve the humanity in the best possible way I could. This project is of mutual interest and based on partnership between the organizations of Austria and Pakistan. Expertise in this field will strengthen the responsible consumption of natural resources and preserving them into the products for safe, health and beautiful society. Quality research and educational programs will be strengthened through sharing of knowledge and experience which will have decent impact in the training of graduates in this field of phytocosmetics in Pakistan. It will be helpful in establishing safe and healthy society through providing effective remedy against various skin abnormalities and diseases. Further, establishing research aptitude and conducive environment for such type of activities which ultimately will enhance the ranking of developing university like university of Swabi, Pakistan. The graduates and scholars with research degree backed by such type of education and research skills are supposed to be capable to shoulder the socio-economic challenges of the country and the world; thus will serve the society and humanity in a better way making the society easy for life to breathe. Hopefully I will be able to establish a strong coordination, collaboration and linkage between the partner institutes for the sharing of experience, expertise, technology and dissemination of knowledge in the relevant field through this funding.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Nasimullah Qureshi is currently serving as Professor and Chairman, Department of Chemistry, University of Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. He completed his PhD degree from the University of Innsbruck, Austria and Postdoc from Chinese Academy of Science, China. His research interests are: Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, Spectroscopy, Natural Products Chemistry, Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Analytical Chemistry.