Students pursuing their postgraduate studies at institutions in Qatar and worldwide, under the capacity building programmes of Qatar Foundation member Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), have been brought together in the annual Qatar Research Leadership Programme (QRLP) gathering.
Organised over three days in virtual form, the event provided more than 50 students sponsored by the programme with insight into ongoing developments within Qatar’s research, development, and innovation ecosystem. It also allowed them to discuss their academic and research progress with QNRF experts.
This year’s virtual edition of QRLP meeting was attended by students who are pursuing their postgraduate studies at 26 top colleges and universities worldwide, including Imperial College London, Stanford University, Oxford University, McGill University, and Qatar University. Participating students also interacted with QNRF-funded lead principal investigators from various institutions in Qatar to network and explore future career paths and options.
Opening the ceremony, Dr Abdul Sattar al-Taie, executive director of QNRF, emphasised the importance of building high-calibre human capital in Qatar, and provided an overview of QNRF’s role in making this happen. “Over time, we have expanded our portfolio of capacity building programmes to ensure a full cycle of support and guidance at all levels from K-12 to postdoctoral fellows,” he said.
“Through our various programmes, besides providing funding for more than 3,000 key investigators, we have enabled a vibrant mix of more than 10,000 K-12 school students, 4,000 undergraduate students, 800 graduate students, and 1,200 postdoctoral fellows to flourish. Similarly, more than 3,000 research associates, research assistants, and laboratory technicians have built their skills through our programmes.”
Informing the gathering about the direction and activities of the Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Council, Omar Ali al-Ansari, secretary general of the QRDI Council, delivered a keynote speech in which he acknowledged the impact and contributions made by graduates of programmes like QRLP, and envisioned Qatar as a leading international hub of RDI in the future.
“This future I share with you is a future that we believe can only be empowered by you, by this talent, and there is no other way to arrive to our destination without the talent that is in this call today,” said al-Ansari.
“Job creation is an important reason why, as a country, we need to invest and double down on RDI because it does create the most impactful and high-skilled, and most interesting jobs. And finally, it equips our population with the tools, the capabilities to address the unique challenges that Qatar has as a country.”
Dr Aisha al-Obaidly, QNRF’s capacity building director, outlined the history and importance of the QRLP, and the support provided by QNRF for the students, saying,“The aim of this programme is to produce researchers and scientists who can contribute and add value to Qatar’s research ecosystem in the near future. We really hope that all our students graduate successfully with top grades and all of us at QNRF are keen on maintaining our support to help you excel in your studies.”
The session also featured presentations from QNRF experts who updated students about current research priority areas, with a workshop being conducted to improve the students’ understanding of Intellectual Property rights. After the virtual meeting, the students presented their ongoing research to receive feedback and held individual meetings with QNRF’s capacity building team to discuss their academic and career plans.