Trent University and Guyana’s Institute of Applied Sciences & Technology (IAST) have signed a letter of intent to promote technology development, the utilization of natural resources and graduate training in the only English-speaking South American country.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Dr. Steven Franklin, Guyanese-born Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research and IAST director, Dr. Suresh Narine and Dr. Neil Emery, Trent University’s vice-president for research and international, attended the signing ceremony in Guyana.
The letter of intent recognizes several complementary institutional goals and common interests between Trent and the IAST.
“The common goals of our institutions to prepare people and communities for brighter futures for local and global levels indicate a promising collaboration,” said Franklin.
With the blessings of the University of Alberta – where he was one of four Alberta Value Added Corporation chairs at the time – and Trent University, Narine accepted a Guyana presidential appointment six years ago to become the IAST director. In that role in which he spends a few days every month in Guyana, he introduced biodiesel technology and set up a commercially-viable biodiesel production facility in Guyana’s hinterland that employs close to 180.
“Guyana’s leadership position on climate change through its celebrated low carbon development strategy provides a natural environment and valuable laboratory for this wonderful collaborative opportunity,” said Narine who last year authored two seminal textbooks in the area of lipid crystallization and co-authored several patents.
“I am delighted that this collaboration is now possible among equals and the recently enabled state-of-the art laboratories at IAST will provide scientific resources through which scholars from both institutions can seek solutions to problems related to sustainable utilization of Guyana’s renewable resources.”
As the director of Trent University’s Centre for Biomaterials Research, Narine’s work involves the research and commercialization of green chemistry and engineering while building networks with other researchers and research bodies in Canada and around the world. He also contributes to public understanding and policy development in toxics reduction and trains highly qualified personnel while teaching undergraduate and graduate students.
Under the agreement, Trent and the IAST will explore the possibility of specific research programs at Trent University that could enable the university’s centre for biomaterials research and its water quality centre to work with the IAST to establish collaborative research programs of interest to staff at both institutions.
This could pave the way for the institutions to access joint international funding.
Trent University has been a leader in Environmental Research and Indigenous Studies since its inception in 1964 and is acquiring a growing reputation in agriculture and sustainability studies.
Set up in 1977, the IAST is an industrial research organization whose mandate is the development and/or adaptation of appropriate technology for the utilization of Guyana’s natural resources so they can be gainfully developed and exploited for the benefit of Guyanese citizens.
Narine, who migrated to Canada in 1991 to pursue higher education, was last year awarded a $1.25 million Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering and a $3 million senior industrial research chair in biomaterials.