Prof. Dr. Ahmad Zaharin Aris
Professor Dr. Ahmad Zaharin Aris, MRSC, FGS, the 2016/2017 SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair obtained his BSc (Hons) degree in 2005 in Environmental Science and PhD degree in the field of Environmental Science (Hydrochemistry) from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) at the age of 25. To date, he is the youngest PhD recipient at UMS and also one of the youngest in Malaysia. Dr. Ahmad Zaharin Aris appointed as a Professor at the age of 33 at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) specializing in the field of Hydrochemistry, Geochemistry, Heavy Metals, Water Quality, Environmental Chemistry and Analysis, Environmental Forensics. Previously, he was an Associate Professor (2013-2016) and Senior Lecturer (2009-2013) at the same department and was employed as a Tutor at UPM in 2007. With pleasant personality traits and qualities of a natural leader, he now serves as the Dean in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Prior to the present appointment, he was the Deputy Dean (Graduate, Research and Development) for two years (2014-2016) as well as the Head of the Environmental Forensics Research Centre (ENFORCE) at UPM from 2011 to 2014.
As an academic staff of UPM, he has been active in teaching and doing research. In the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Studies, he has been teaching courses in the Environmental Science and Technology programme (e.g. Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Forensics, Hydrochemistry and Geochemistry, Soil and Water Sciences, Environmental Hydrology and Hydrogeology) at undergraduate level as well as at graduate level (e.g. Water Science, Environmental Research Design and Methodology, Environmental Research Project and Environmetric). His involvement and contribution have helped to develop curriculum for Environmental Science and Technology discipline at UPM and also for several public and private universities in the country. Dr. Ahmad Zaharin Aris has supervised more than 65 MS (including Master by Coursework) and PhD students and 2 Post-Docs, 53 of whom are local students and 12 are international. Under his supervision, 13 PhD (5 as Chairman), and 28 Master (including Master by Coursework) students (4 as Chairman for MS and 20 for Master by Coursework) successfully graduated. On top of that, 35 Bachelor students successfully completed their final year projects. He has been appointed as internal as well as external examiners for MS and PhD theses locally and internationally namely Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Teknologi MARA, and University of South Australia. He also sits in the board of advisor for Environmental Forensics curriculum development for Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Polytechnic Division, Ministry of Higher Education for its Environmental Science curriculum.
He has received more than RM 5.5million research fund for more than 50 projects from various agencies locally and internationally where he is the Principal Investigator for 20 projects (5 international and 15 national grants; nearly RM 2million). He is the youngest faculty with a brilliant academic record including 270 academic writings related to his field in refereed international journals (nearly 180; 154 in SCI Journals), books (3; 1 published by Springer-Verlag) and chapters in books(36; 22 published in Springer-Verlag book) and the rest is conference papers with over 1045 and 1963 citations (SCOPUS; h-index 17 and Google Scholar; h-index 23). More than 45% of his published SCI papers are in Q1 and Q2 tiers. Few of his papers ranked as the most downloaded papers and received many citations within a short period of time. The Elsevier’s Scival Spotlight (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015) has ranked him third among the list of global experts under the category of Distinguished Competency of water quality, sediment and pollution. One of his remarkable discoveries from his water purification research is that crab shells and calcareous skeleton can be effectively used for elimination of copper and cadmium from contaminated waters. This remarkable research finding has caught scientific community and industry (i.e GE Water & Process Technologies, USA, Water Environment Federation, USA, ResearchSEA, UK) attention and has been highlighted in their websites and articles as a new discovery and having great potential of applicability. In 2015, together with his colleagues, he successfully filed a patent application on “Water Filter Paper” and one industrial design copyright on “Water Filter” in 2016.
Indeed, this is an extraordinary accomplishment by a very young scientist and for that, he has been awarded with many prestigious awards nationally and internationally. In recognition of his academic and leadership capabilities, he was awarded with Excellence Service Award and Certificate of Excellence, Universiti Putra Malaysia (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), Publication Incentive Award, Universiti Putra Malaysia (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016), Travel Grant Award as Keynote Speaker in the International Social Science Conference (ISSC) 2015, Indonesia, Travel Grant Award as Keynote Speaker in The 2nd WEPA International Workshop and the 6th Annual Meeting Tokyo, Japan from Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japanese Ministry of Environment (2011), awarded with Travel Grant Award and appointed as Working Member in Education Program for Field-Oriented Leaders in Environmental Sectors in Asia and Africa (FOLENS), Japan, invited and awarded with short attachment as Visiting Scientist at Kyoto University (2009), awarded with Travel Grant Award and short attachment to attend the 20th Saltwater Intrusion Meeting, Florida, USA from United States Geological Survey (USGS) (2008), Travel Award /Grant Support to Attend the 6th International Olympiad for Environmental Scientists and Engineers (OESE) 2006, Gwangju, Republic of Korea from UNU-IERC, Gwangju Institute of Science & Technology (2006) and Travel Award / Grant Support to Attend an International Conference on Hydrology in Asia, Guangzhou, China from IAHS, IWRA & UNESCO-IHP (2006). He appeared in few newspapers headline as “Youngest PhD recipient” in 2009 and recently appeared in “Malaysia: Who’s Who, Constitution, Government and Politics (2013/2014 Edition)” on “Youngest PhD graduate” published by Kasuya Management Sdn. Bhd. He also appeared for more than 10 appearances in TV, newspaper and magazine for his expertise especially on water security and environmental forensics. He was also awarded with a prestigious award by Universiti Putra Malaysia with Young Scientist Award for 2013 and Vice Chancellor Fellowship Award and nominated for TWAS Earth Sciences Prize 2015, Zayed Prize (Young Scientists Award for Environmental Sustainability) and Eni Prize (Protection of the environment) 2015 where the nomination was by invitation from the selection committee due to his extraordinary achievements in research. Recently, he is appointed as SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair (2016/2017) from Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). He is also the finalist (1st Runner Up) for 2016 National Young Scientist Award by Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia. He received The Golden Globe Tigers Award 2017 – Best Professor in Environmental Studies in April 2017.
He is currently an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports (Q1), Nature Publishing Group, Associate Editor for Environmental Geochemistry and Health (Q1), Springer, Editor for SpringerPlus Journal, Associate Editor for Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management, Review Editor for Frontiers in Environmental Toxicology, Editorial Board Member for Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management and Journal of Pollution (Pollution), Associate Editor for Research Journal of Environmental Sciences, Asian Journal of Earth Sciences and Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. He also served as a Guest Editor for four citation-indexed journals namely EnvironmentAsia, World Applied Sciences Journal, Frontiers in Chemistry (including Frontiers in Environmental Science) and Procedia Environmental Science, for its special issues in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 respectively. He has been appointed as International Scientific Committee Member for few international conferences and was the Founding Chairman of the International Conference on Environmental Forensics 2013 (iENFORCE2013). He has been invited to give numerous talks and tutorials, and consultant to organizations involved in his field of research locally and internationally. He has been continuously invited by Springer-Verlag to give inspirational talks since 2012 to share his experience as a young scientist on publishing in academic journals. Up to date, he has delivered more than 40 lectures and talks as an Invited Speaker, Plenary Speaker and Keynote Speaker in various occasions locally and internationally.
Some of his research findings have been used to set up guidelines and policies on environmental issues for example in setting up the National Water Quality Standards, revising the National Water Quality Standards, National Lake Water Quality Standards and National Groundwater Quality Standards for Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia and Ministry of Health Malaysia. Involving the community has been always part of his research mission and orientation, enabling local people to gain a better understanding and benefits from the findings after the research project was completed. Recently, he sits as the advisor, steering committee member and expert advisor to the Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia in their “Legislative Provisions for Inclusion of Environmental Forensic in Prosecution”. In this provision, the DOE will place greater emphasis on the precautionary principle approach as one of the key considerations towards enhancing the environmental protection legislative framework of Malaysia. The precautionary principle enables rapid response in the face of possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. The principle may be invoked when a phenomenon is identified by scientific or objective evaluation to have potentially adverse effects; case-in-point environmental contamination that resulted in severe environmental damage. In 2014, the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago invited him as an advisor for establishment plan of the Institute of Environmental Forensics, for the country – a deep international recognition of his contributions and expertise. Besides, various government agencies and private sectors including Environment Institute of Malaysia (EiMAS), Department of Chemistry Malaysia, Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (LUAS) are now proposing and adopting the Environmental Forensics approach as part of their environmental monitoring, assessment, and policy revision strategies. This shows the results of his hard work on establishing and promoting environmental forensics in the country has paid off where it successfully brought to public or policy makers’ attention in significant environmental sustainability issues with mobilizing action towards their solution. He has instituted many impressive and successful programs including establishing comprehensive chemical databases for fingerprinting and hub for training and technology transfer in environmental forensics. Besides, he also plays an important role in helping the Department of Chemistry Malaysia for the revision of their analytical analysis especially for the environmental samples.
To date, he is a member of International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) since 2008, and Malaysian Analytical Sciences Society (ANALIS) since 2006 and elected as Fellow of The Geological Society, London (FGS) in 2011 to recent. He has been elected as Member of Young Scientist Network for Academy Sciences of Malaysia (YSN-ASM) for 2012-2015 and recently as Member, Royal Society Chemistry (MRSC), London (2016-recent).