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Exploring new frontiers…By Crystal Conway“Like a couple who have been living together and are now getting married.”Such was Professor Lawrence Carrington’s description of the relationship between the University of Guyana (UG) and the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST).Professor Lawrence who is Vice Chancellor of the University made the remarks on Friday morning, last, at the Institute’s boardroom, where he and IAST Director, Dr. Suresh Narine, were preparing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their two agencies, dictating the terms of cooperation they will now share.Dr. Narine detailed the long relationship between the two entities. He spoke of students and lecturers who have utilized the laboratory facilities in order to complete projects for many years. He opined that in return for the access to IAST’s facilities, the University provides the Institute access to a large part of its human and intellectual capital.? In addition,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Nike-Tanjun/, he also pointed to the shared environment of the two agencies, given that the Institute sits on part of the University’s extensive campus grounds.According to Dr Narine, the MOU articulates simple and expeditious methods on how members of both entities access and utilize resources and equipment, as well as provides a single point of contact for future cooperation. The MOU provides several collaborative instruments through its enactment. These are adjunct professorships, hosting UG academic staff at IAST during their sabbaticals and earned study leave, engaging the social sciences dimension of the collaboration, supporting of student research activities and the sharing of library resources.The MOU makes room for IAST’s staffers to have simultaneous appointments at the University under adjunct professorships. And in return, the IAST is prepared to host scientists/academic staff members from the University of Guyana during their sabbatical, earned study leave, secondment, Dean’s Leave and other forms of research-related activity outside of the University. However this last area of agreement comes with a caveat that the IAST cannot support projects outside of its strategic core areas which are Bio-Energy, Indigenous Construction Materials, Bio-Prospecting as well as Analytical Chemistry and Quality Control.Under the social sciences dimension, the MOU calls for collaboration between parties on costing and marketing of outputs,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Nike-Shox/, negotiating with investors, encouraging multi-disciplinary research in economics and sociology and utilizing the services of the Centre for Communication Studies to publicize joint initiatives.Professor Carrington pointed out that the times are changing and the need has arisen for the two agencies to formalize the relationship that they have been involved in over the years. He noted that this was particularly important in ensuring the cautious use of resources. The Professor also posited that the balance of the relationship will be adjusted with the infusion of funds from the recently publicized World Bank grant that sees the University gaining access to US$10M to improve their science and technology capacity. This grant, he noted, will give the University the opportunity to redress the balance in terms of equipment sharing as the University boosts its capacity.The IAST has recently completed upgrading its laboratory to a condition that, according to Dr. Narine, rivals the world-class Trent Centre for the Study of Biomaterials Laboratory that he oversees at Trent University, with the exception of a few pieces of highly specialized equipment. Professor Narine proudly claims that the Institute’s laboratories are now superior to any similar institutions across the entire Caribbean region.Dr. Narine later pointed out in an exclusive interview that over the last three years, the institute has used more than $285M (or US$1.425M) of its budget allotments from the Government of Guyana to purchase equipment to bring the laboratory to its current state.In 2006, $12M was expended, in 2007 this grew to$20M, in 2008 $30M, in 2009 $35M, in 2010 a further $70M went to this end, and in 2011, $118M. The end result is a laboratory, according to Dr Narine, that will let the Institute move away from doing just the pilot scale exercises it has been engaged in, and to exploit this infrastructural base to probe deeper into the science of adding value to Guyana’s natural resource base.Dr. Narine was careful to point out that this process of encouraging and securing Government support for Science and Technology is one that has not always been easy, but one that is worth the effort and the constant lobbying of Government.“No Government in the world,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/574-New-Balance/,” he pointed out,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Neo-Adidas/, “continues to fund research and development without evidence that its investments can accrue to the national benefits of wealth-creation,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Nike-Dunk/, poverty reduction, competitive advantage, and a general improvement in the quality of life of its citizens.”UG’s Vice Chancellor Professor Lawrence Carrington (L) signs the MOU with IAST Director, Dr. Suresh Narine.“IAST’s success in securing government funding is directly related to the growing number of projects it has been able to bring to successful completion,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Nike-Air-Vapormax/, and its demonstration that these projects are of significant industrial importance to the country’s development.”He further stated that the institute is now poised to play a pivotal role in the pursuit of the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.“I have always taken the view that constant, sometimes aggressive lobbying, is more important than virulent criticism of Government, in the pursuit to realize investments in the Science and Technology sector.? It is an approach which we would do well to engender in our students and educational institutions, as partnership is ultimately always more successful than posturing.”The mandate of the IAST calls for the institute to be an “industrial research organization”.The research focuses on the development and/or adaptation of existing technologies in an effort to make the utilization of resources more efficient and profitable for local industries. In essence, the institute does not come up with brand new industrial processes; they simply find better ways to do more with the same resources.Examples are coconut oil and fish oil – according to Dr. Narine, the Institute has boosted its investigative ability in organic and analytical chemistry with equipment that lets researchers fractionate and modify the natural organic compounds in many of the country’s rich agricultural, forestry and aquatic resources to increase the value of the end products.For example,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Running-Yeezy-Boost-350/, the institute is now synthesizing ethyl laurate from coconut oil – coconut oil is naturally rich in lauric acid, and with its new equipment base, the institute will be synthesizing the high value food and cosmetic ingredient,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Nike-Shox-Nz-Nike-Shox/, ethyl laurate.? The rest of the coconut oil can then be used, as before, as a high value vegetable oil or value-added margarines and shortenings, or converted in a further project within the institute into detergents and flavoured soaps and shampoos.Similarly, the institute is investigating ways of extracting omega three fatty acids from by-products of the fish industry, utilizing the proteins and the remainder of fats as poultry feed and biodiesel, respectively.? Omega three fatty acids are expensive, sought-after nutraceuticals which are used universally as cholesterol and triglyceride – limiting dietary aids, and fetch very high prices in the marketplace.Yet another forestry-related project relates to the extraction of anti-microbial and anti-fungal compounds from mushrooms growing at the base of the rainforest, and exploiting these compounds in anti-inflammatory drugs, anaesthetic functions, and other bio-medical applications.Dr Narine explained that another major area of focus at the institute this year is working with extrusion technology. They are engaged in a project which utilizes recycled plastic and other materials,http://www.airmaxfantasy.us.com/Balenciaga-Speed-Trainer/, amalgamating it with 40–50 percent of processed coconut fibre and then using the molten amalgam to make roofing tiles. These tiles will look like the regular clay roofing tiles but they are lightweight, durable, self-cleaning, last more than 50 years, and are a greener alternative for roofing materials.The extrusion technology will also be applied in the food and feed industries as well.One example that he felt would appeal to the common person is the extrusion of broken rice into rice noodles and high-value products such as risotto.? He indicated that although the mills in Guyana have been greatly modernized, there is still a significant amount of broken rice produced in the milling process. It was also noted that a significant portion of quality rice grains could find usage in the value-added process, as rice noodles and risotto fetch significantly higher prices than rice exported as a commodity.Another emphasis on extrusion technology, he noted, will be on adding value to commodities such as locally produced cereals and grain. He spoke of the Kashi brand of cereals, touted on television as one of the healthiest cereals out there; this brand of cereal is apparently made with mostly tropical grains. These grains are all grown here in Guyana and, according to Dr. Narine, can be used to produce the same type of healthy, high fiber, high vitamin breakfast cereals.Another area highlighted is the use of extrusion technology to produce feed for the country’s burgeoning aquaculture industry.? The Professor pointed out that as food prices climb, so does the prices of feed.? Furthermore, as the livestock and aquaculture sectors in Guyana continue to grow, the demand for feed will increase.Taking advantage of research elsewhere that has shown cassava leaves, duckweed and other ingredients can be co-extruded to produce expanded, high-protein feed pellets that are less dense than water, the institute will also be exploiting its investment in extrusion technology to produce feed for the aquaculture industry from locally available commodities.With its new facilities, the IAST also now supplies state-of-the-art analytical services to a broad range of industries, including providing monitoring of the Haags-Bosch landfill for environmental contaminants.? This, Professor Narine stated, is one of the ways that the institute will ensure that it maintains its equipment base – by re-investing the revenues from its analytical services into repair and maintenance of its analytical equipment, and by using such revenues to keep its technicians highly trained in all of the relevant international standards.As the scientific landscape continues to unfold for the IAST, the institute is working on the launching of the Guyana Science Review – a journal that will report on Science and Technology in Guyana. They are also working on a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding with Trent University in Canada, where Dr. Narine is a Professor in the Departments of Chemistry as well as Physics and Astronomy, and Director of the Trent Centre for the Study of Biomaterials.

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