AMU’s Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, sifting through lot of research and community service initiatives to be rolled out at his behest, clearly laid out his potential priorities to be achieved this year; said, ‘‘We will hit the bull’s eye,’’ following is the full text of his interview. Highlighting strategic plan of 2018-19, he said, our plan is part of 5-year package, this year,my office will focus on three centres of excellence i.e. Water Research Resource Centre, Biological & Cultural Diversity Research Centre and Collaborative Research and Training Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease.

These centres will have their own 5-year strategic plans and by the year-end the first draft of the plan is likely to be ready. Itwill be a roadmap for them to pursue innovative researches and come up with epoch-making outputs potentially dynamic to transform the lives of the communities.

He revealed at this juncture, AMU is carving out a new institute, ‘Research & Training Institute for Culture and Language’ by culling out cultural component from existing Biological & Cultural Diversity Research Centre. Behavioral and Social Study Unit along with Jinka-based South Omo Research Centre will also have their respective mandates clubbed with this proposed institute.

On other hand, erstwhile Dorze-based Enset Research Station will get merged with Biodiversity Research Centre. This centre apart from Enset will also conduct research in medicinal plants, and revive non-functional botanical garden at Main Campus, he added.

Whether increasing mandate and available budget outlay is are proportional, he maintained, it isn’t but whatever we have,we can make a difference. This year’s research budget is around ETB 25 Million compared to last year 18.34 Million; Community Service netted about ETB 34 Million (last year 25.51 Million). Our budget is reasonably progressive; last year, we could consume90% only 10% couldn’t due to other reasons.

Addressing a social mandate isn’t a picnic, he said, we go for basic research where outputs must potentially improve social situation. Though it’s not simple yet,we are transferring invented technologies through University-Industry Linkage Technology Transfer Directorate. Promising research outputs on Coffee, Malt Barley and Moringa will soon be transferred to the community, he averred.

On few issues he said, participation of female researchers is correspondingly increasing; in 2016 it was 18%, in 2018, 33% and in this academic it’s expected to rise further.Grand Kulfo Watershed Project is active, designated teams have completed their tasks except study of ecological and watershed management components are in progress. And to deal with plagiarism menace, university is designing a system where staff won’t get easily conned by predatory journals.

In order to obviate confusion in research operation aspect, he informed with a view to overhaul research set-up, new position of Executive Directorate is proposed in our structure to which all coordination offices across the board will report under the aegis of my office; it will remove acts of subordination.

Unraveling new national and global pacts, he said, talks on medicinal plants survey project with Ethiopian Public Health Institute is underway. Globally, recent agreement with REALIZE where AMU is a satellite university under the tutelage of Wageningan University’s network, will work on Food Security. A joint project with municipality in Switzerland on increasing agro-productivity with urine as fertilizer in urban area and a project on anthropological area with European Union are some of the possible alliances.

Listing out office’s achievements, he said, I wanted to be a catalyst, now my subordinates are busy; I am motivating people and they are fully engrossed and self-driven as there is no dependent-syndrome. We won’t believe in brooding over challenges but always see the light at the end of the tunnel and move on.

Emphasizing on improving things, inputs and facilities, he said, I favor the structure to work with team spirit at the helm. However, there is a challenge pertaining to University-Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer Directorate as it straddlesboth research and community service, hence, it has to siphonfunds from those directorates whenever it undertakes respective assignments.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)