USM making science more accessible with hands-on exposure

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BY MAZLAN HANAFI BASHARUDIN

ENHANCING the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in education is a major initiative in the Malaysian Education Development Plan (PPPM) 2013-2025.

However, currently less than 50 percent of students are undergoing studies in STEM-related fields in the country. Various efforts and initiatives have been implemented to spur the interest of students by providing them with early exposure and assisting them in discovering and understanding the subjects under STEM.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), through the Centre for Neuroscience Services and Research (P3Neuro), has taken the initiative to conduct a programme for students to instil the interest in science and research into STEM-related areas, known as the Vacation Research Programme (VRP).

VRP is opened to school-leavers who have completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations and are interested in pursuing careers as scientists. Students who join the programme will be provided the opportunity to explore, learn and be involved in hands-on
research work.

“The objective of this programme is to encourage more pre-university students to choose careers involving scientific research especially in neuroscience, and at the same time
learning the techniques of using on-site laboratory equipment,” said the founder of VRP, who is also the Director of P3NeuroUSM, Professor Dato’ Dr Jafri Malin Abdullah.

“VRP which started in 2012, would require the students selected to undergo a few processes, and would be finalised with an interview by representatives from the respective
departments involved.”

“Those who are selected would be sponsored by P3Neuro in relation to the study fees for the introduction into areas of science including Neurobiology, Artificial Intelligence, Electrophysiology, Software use, Web Hosting and a few other activities,” added Jafri Malin.

Since it was introduced, 13 students have benefited from the said programme and have since furthered their studies in fields such as science and medicine in local and foreign universities, one of which is at Durham University, United Kingdom.— USM