At a time when an aspect of Malaysian higher education aims at gaining recognition for its scholarship internationally, UMS is contributing to this effort in a variety of ways. One good indicator of this recognition is the winning of international fellowships. The School of Social Sciences at UMS is proud to have been awarded fellowships to two of its staff members this year, namely Dr. Ramzah Dambul and Associate Prof. Dr. Fadzilah Majid Cooke.
In August, Dr. Ramzah Dambul won the prestigious Royal Society Chevening Fellowship from the British Council. This fellowship is awarded to outstanding scholars all over the world as a way of promoting cutting edge research at the post-doctoral level. By the end of this year, Dr. Ramzah Dambul will be leaving for the United Kingdom to complete a four-month attachment at the Climatic Research Unit (University of East Anglia), one of the leading climate centres in the world. His winning proposal involves research into improved techniques for downscaling (a diagnostic tool to predict long-term climatic impacts) in the tropical region, especially Southeast Asia. The proposed research is the first of its kind for Southeast Asia, and will be the key to a better understanding of how global warming may change the future climate of this region. The improved downscaling technique is also useful for understanding the seasonal monsoon cycle as well as the low-frequency ENSO fluctuation (famously associated with the El Nińo and La Nińa impacts).
Selected as one of the five Malaysian collaborators, Dr. Ramzah also currently involves in the ongoing OP3-Danum-08 project (Aerosol Climate Coupling). The project will investigate forest-atmosphere exchange of aerosols and atmospheric chemistry in Danum Valley. This project is led by the School of Earth, Atmospheric & Environmental Science, at the University of Manchester.
Earlier, in May, Associate Prof. Dr. Fadzilah Majid Cooke who is also Head of the Research Unit for Ethnography and Development (UPEP) won a two month fellowship at Curtin University, Perth, Australia for work she is doing on rural, especially indigenous communities, as they negotiate local environmental change and its effects on their livelihoods. The fellowship was internationally competitive with applicants from both within and outside Australia. The purpose was to allow promising researchers time to write, network with like minded academics, and also to disseminate and share information about their work. Likeminded researchers at Curtin included those who belong to the Research Unit for the Study of Societies in Change (RUSSIC) which hosted Dr. Fadzilah in Perth.
While at Curtin University, Dr. Fadzilah made full use of her time, by applying for joint RUSSIC/UPEP seed funding for specialized research on social risk and vulnerability among societies experiencing environmental change. The range of interests at RUSSIC enabled the topic to be applied to Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor, and Japan, in addition to Malaysia. The seed grant for this multi-national project has since been won. In addition, two seminars based on the papers that Dr. Fadzilah was writing during her fellowship were presented at special keynote sessions organized by RUSSIC. Participants at the seminars were from social and natural science research groups as well as those institutions which are members of the RUSSIC network (see photos). The papers were entitled: 1) Anthropogenic Forests in Sabah: Why We Should Care; and b) Smallholder Oil Palm Production: Migration and Claims Making. These papers are designed for publication in national and international journals.
A further spin off from the fellowship is the potential of Curtin researchers from the Centre on Sustainable Tourism visiting UMS next year to explore potential research topics and partnerships. UMS researchers who are interested in international collaboration on tourism research are invited to contact Dr. Fadzilah.