Students from the second cycle of Qatar University's (QU) National Science Promotion Programme (NSPP) have shared their research experience. Launched by QU's Young Scientists Centre (YSC) in alliance with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, NSPP aims to provide an exceptional opportunity to high school and undergraduate students by involving them in research grant projects.
The student participants rated NSPP as highly beneficial, saying it offered them a unique environment to build and refine their research, metacognitive, critical, and design thinking skills to continue a bright career in research and the country's welfare. They experienced being part of high-priority national research pertaining to the green energy generation from polylactic acid fiber nanocomposites (under the supervision of Dr Deepalakshmi Ponnamma, College of Arts & Sciences), a novel treatment for sepsis-induced cardiac inflammation (under the guidance of Dr Zaid Hussain Hassan, College of Pharmacy), environment-friendly leaf ethanolic extract against penicillium infections in citrus fruits (under Prof Mohammed Abu-Deiyeh, College of Arts & Sciences), design and development of a dynamic vibration absorber (under Dr Asan Abdul Muthalif, College of Engineering), mapping the biodiversity of ants fauna in Qatar (under Dr Fatima al-Khayat, College of Arts & Sciences), investigation on the development of atherosclerosis (under Prof Hesham Korashy, College of Pharmacy).
Most of them shared their viewpoints regarding the skills attained during NSPP. “We have gained many sophisticated technical skills while working on the projects, such as personal protective equipment safety, instrumentation skills like using micropipettes, centrifuges, incubators, etc., which we could have never learned before entering university,” a student said.
“Research is a trial and error method, and I have understood that patience during research is the key to success,” said another. “I am not sure if I will opt for STEM disciplines or perform research in my future, but this experience has definitely helped me perceive things from a divergent perspective, to better comprehend the challenges we face, and conquer them with a logical, practical, research approach,” a third participant observed.
Besides the experiences shared by the high school students, undergraduates were also delighted with NSPP. They not only participated in the research project but were also involved in near-peer mentoring and assessment of high school students, acting as their secondary mentors. Correspondingly the research mentors (PhDs) of these students also testified that they could see a huge difference in the students' attitudes and most of them had already started to ‘think like a researcher.’
The research mentors highly endorsed continuing the program for the benefit of high school students and undergraduates. In this context, YSC director Prof Noora Jabor al-Thani, said: "I am glad that this programme is highly recommended by the research community and our team believes in the programme’s capability to create a more equitable, inclusive, and leakproof STEM pipeline.”
Dr Saeed Almeer, director of Research Support (Grants & Contracts) also praised the students’ dedication, research capabilities, and creativity throughout the programme.
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