Opening doors of science to Jaffna students

An international conference on Advanced Materials for Clean Energy and Health Applications (AMCEHA 2019) was organised jointly by the Jaffna University (UoJ) and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) from February 6 to 8. It was held at the Jaffna University.

Over 400 delegates, including 120 foreign delegates from more than 12 countries such as Norway, India, Canada, Australia, UK, Bangladesh, Sudan, Sweden, Finland, Egypt, China, Japan and the USA participated in this unique conference. Over 180 research articles were submitted and up to 140 research articles were selected and presented after peer-review.

The experts have praised the quality of the conference proceedings edited by Suthakar. The selected papers will be published in Science journals in the coming weeks after another peer-review by the respective publishers.

The participants at the AMCEHA 2019 comprised experts, scientists, industrial representatives from local and foreign companies and students of higher learning in clean energy technologies and health applications.

The conference was organised under the two collaborative projects between the UoJ and the HVL: Higher Education and Research collaboration on Nanomaterials for Clean Energy Technologies (HRNCET) and Capacity Building and Establishment of a Research Consortium (CBERC) funded by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka, respectively.

The conference and the workshop were co-chaired by Professor Dhayalan Velauthapillai from Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and Professor P. Ravirajan of the Physics Department - Jaffna University. The first two days of the conference were held at the main premises of the Jaffna University in Thirunelveli and the third day was held at the Engineering Faculty in the Kilinochchi premises.

The inauguration ceremony commenced after the procession of invitees, the lighting of the oil lamp, welcome song and the dance performed by the students from the Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts of the university. Norwegian Ambassador Thorbjørn Gaustadsæter was the chief guest and University Grants Commission Research and International Cooperation Head and Vice Chairman Prof. P.S.M. Gunaratne was the guest of honour.

Vice Chancellor Prof. R. Vigneswaran, Jaffna University Dean of Graduate Studies Prof. G. Mikunthan, Rector Berit Rokne and HVL Director Henning Norheim welcomed the gathering. Apart from scientific activities, the conference also provided opportunities for signing MoUs and agreements for collaboration and cooperation in higher education and research between the Jaffna University and Gexcon, a world-renowned company in safety measures as well as HVL and NIFS, Sri Lanka.

On behalf of the University Council, the vice-chancellor of the Jaffna University felicitated Professor Dhayalan Velauthapillai with a memento for his tireless efforts in winning and executing two major projects worth of over Rs. 200 million to promote higher education and research collaboration in the Jaffna University and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences through students - staff mobility programmes, conducting international conferences, outreach activities in schools and developing Master degree programmes, since the signing of the MoU with Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in March 2017.

After the inauguration ceremony, four plenary talks were conducted by scientists in the fields of nanomaterials for solar cells, health applications and energy storage systems. An interactive poster session was followed by a one-minute spotlight presentation of each poster. Up to 30 posters were displayed by the authors after the spotlight session.

The second day of the conference was organised under four different symposiums under the themes solar energy applications, advanced materials for health applications, advanced functional materials, and wind or hydrogen or bioenergy and storage applications. Each symposium had four plenary sessions and invited lectures and more than 30 contributed papers. On the second day of the conference, a considerable number of dentists and students from the medical faculty attended the session led by world-renowned Skandinavian scientists in regenerative medicine.

The Sri Lankan and Norwegian workshop on Clean Energy Applications was held at the Engineering Faculty in Kilinochchi on the third day of the conference which was co-chaired by Professor Velauthapillai and Dean of the Engineering Faculty, Professor A. Atputharajah. It was attended by most of the participants of the conference, other industrialists, policymakers from the government sector, investors and representatives from clean energy enterprises in Sri Lanka.

In order to realise new innovations, researchers need the active support of the industry. Especially in the clean energy sector, industrial involvement will help people in implementing new innovative clean energy technology solutions. Thus, on Friday, in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Authority in Sri Lanka, multiple sessions were arranged to discuss the challenges and possibilities in implementing clean energy solutions in Sri Lanka.

The first part was to look back at the clean energy seminar held in Colombo in May 2018, and identify the progress made in different aspects of the clean energy technologies and to discuss the way forward in the future. Local and Norwegian clean energy companies presented their activities. An interactive session was also arranged to discuss the possibilities in enhancing collaboration in higher education in the field of clean energy technologies between the Sri Lankan, Norwegian and Indian universities. Expatriates from various countries presented their ideas on how the expatriate community contribute in capacity building at the Jaffna University.

This international conference is considered as a historical event of the Jaffna University with more than 120 foreign participants, students, academics and officials. The AMCEHA 2019 has contributed to wide recognition of the Jaffna University as a research institution, academic personnel broadened their research network, and students got international exposure from the high-quality research presentations. In addition, the participants at the conference also had an opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of the people in the region.



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