Novel Method to Monitor Coral Reefs - Squ

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the Sultanate's commitment, represented by NHRC, towards the interna- tional laws ... Shah from the Malaysian state of Johor, and her entourage visited Sul-.
Promoting Innovation and Internationalization


Probiotics: Boon or Bane?

Mind Over Matter

Focus on Human Rights

News Update

Novel Method to Monitor Coral Reefs Department of Public RelationsandInformation SultanQaboosUniversity

Issue 279

View Point

On top of things

The habit of punctuality matters in every walk of life. At least, it matter’s in one’s profession. Being on time, every time, conveys more than just a good sense of timing. It tells people that you are on top of things, that you are organized, that you can be counted on, that you value your work and others, and ultimately, that you value yourself. Being on time consistently shows everyone around you that you are the master of your life. It demonstratesforesight,theabilitytopredictpossiblehang-ups,andadaptability, the ability to change your plans to accommodate those hang-ups.

Mohamed Salem Al Ghailani Editorial Supervision

Humaid Abdullah Al Adwani Editor in Chief

Santhosh Muthalath Senior Editor

Sara Al Gheilani Nasebah Al Muharrami Translation

Ahlam Al Wahaibi Design & Layout

Rashad Al Wahaibi

& Photography Dept., CET

Someone who shows, over and over, that they are the master of their time is someone who will be taken seriously in areas far removed from time management. That foresight and adaptability that gets you where you need to be, when you need to be there, tells the people around you that you can handle whatever is thrown at you. Punctuality is also a trust issue. When you make an appointment, you are making a commitment to be where you said you’d be when you said you’d be there. The only way you build up other people’s trust in you is by consistently meeting your commitments — and that starts with being punctual. People are busy — too busy to be waiting on you while their other work goes unfinished. Being punctual shows, clearly and truly, that you value their time and by extension that you value them as a person. It says, “Let’s make this time we’ve arranged as productive as possible so we can both get on with all our other important stuff.” Being on time shows you value your time, and yourself. First of all, being repeatedly late is a self-destructive behavior — why else would you risk not landing the big client, losing your job, or insulting those around you? And everyone knows that most self-destructive behavior follows from low self-esteem. Even if it’s not true, that’s the perception you’re allowing others.


Salim Al Sudairi Distribution

Horizon invites contributions from SQU members of staff and faculty. Contributions in the form of articles, news, travelogues, stories of unique and interesting experiences, encounters, etc., are welcome. Contributions may be edited for the sake of clarity and length. Please send your contributions to [email protected] preferably, as MSWord attachments. Authors will be suitably credited. The views and opinions expressed in the articles published in this newsletter are those of the authors and are not to be construed as the official views of the publication. Horizon is published three times a month by the Department of Public Relations and Information, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 50, P.C. 123, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Phone: +968 24141045 E-mail: [email protected]

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Fax: +968 24413 391 Website:

SQU-UAEU Joint Committee Reviews Future Activities

The 28th meeting of the Sultan Qaboos University-UAE University joint committee held recently at SQU, discussed and finalized a number of joint research projects and student activities for the coming year. The meeting was headed by Dr. Hamed bin Sulaiman Al Salmy, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administrative & Financial Affairs, and Dr. Reyad Almehaideb, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Studies at UAE University. The meeting approved for joint research projects to be conducted by researchers from both universities. The approved projects include 1) Studies on the geographical distribution and the nature of the damage and the future strategies to combat tomato fruit borer; 2) Molecular study on the effects of camel milk and urine for the treatment of breast cancer; 3) Studying the epidemiology and diagnostic methods for common partial genetic metabolic diseases in Oman and UAE; 2) Constructing water balance along Oman-UAE. Themeetingreviewedtheprospectsoflaunchingawebsitetodisseminate information on the committee and its activities; and electronically linking the libraries of the two universities. The meeting approved the third issue of the book on the committee and its activities during period from 2010 to 2014. It has been agreed that SQU students would participate in a number of student activities to be held in UAE University and vice versa. The joint student activities include art and literature forums, sports activities, theater activities and translation forums.

News Update

Focus on Human Rights

The College of Law at SQU recently organized its 2nd Scientific Conference titled “Human Rights: Maintaining them at National and International Levels” under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sa’eedi, Minister of Legal Affairs. The two-day conference was organized by the College of Law, in cooperation with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and it highlighted various contemporary issues related to the human rights. Hon. Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Riyami, NHRC Chairman affirmed the Sultanate’s commitment, represented by NHRC, towards the internationallaws,regulations,agreementsandtreaties.Heexpressedhisthanks and appreciation for SQU to organize this conference in cooperation with NHRC. On his turn, Dr. Ashraf Wafa Mohammed, Acting Dean of the College of Law, Head of the Organizing Committee of the conference stressed the importance of different topics of human rights at the national and internationalarenas,explainingthattheSultanateattachesamajorattention to the human rights and freedom. He pointed out that the conference discussesed various issues and topics related to the human rights in the positive law and the Islamic legislation. The conference included four working sessions dealing with the legislative regulation of the human rights, the human rights at the national level and the international mechanism to maintain the human rights. The opening ceremony of the conference was attended by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, Vice-Chancellor of SQU and H.E. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Sa’eedi, Secretary General of the State Council.

Princess from Malaysia Visits SQU

SQU to Form Ties with US Health Sciences Centre

Her Royal Highness Princess Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah from the Malaysian state of Johor, and her entourage visited Sultan Qaboos University recenlty. The delegation was received by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, Vice Chancellor of SQU and H.H. Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation. In a meeting, the two sides reviewed the existing collaboration between SQU and Malaysian higher educational institutions. They also agreed on strengthening the ties by facilitating student and faculty exchangeandcollaborativeresearchindifferentfieldsincludingengineering, health sciences and nursing.

SQU and the Health Sciences Centre at West Virginia University, USA, agreed to establish partnership in different fields such as student and faculty exchange and collaborative research in medicine and health sciences. A discussion in this regard was held recently at SQU between H.H. Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahd Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation, and Dr. Christopher C. Colenda, Chancellor of Health Science at West Virginia University. The two sides agreed on exchange of medical students between the two universities who would like to pursue internship, residency or postgraduate training in different fields of medicine. The two universities will also explore the possibilities of ties in medical research focusing on studies related to cardiovascular and life style diseases, cancer, genetic diseases and mental health problems. P3 20 December 2013


Novel Method to Monitor Coral Reefs By: Dr. Michel Claereboudt Assistant Dean for PG Studies and Research College of Agriculture and Marine Sciences Coral communities include the living organisms of some marine, tropical and subtropical, shallow water ecosystems. They have often been compared to the “tropical rain forest” of the oceans because oftheir large number of species and the complex interactions between these species. All over the world, coral communities are suffering from direct and indirect anthropogenic stress: increased globaloceantemperature,sedimentationandsiltation,coastalconstruction, reclamation work, etc. One of the main issue in studying coral communities is the monitoring. Being underwater, direct access to observation and quantitative data collection is hampered by our limited ability to live underwater: during each dive, we can take sample, photographs, videos,measurementsetc.forapproximatelyonehour.Thisforces coralreefscientiststodevelopimaginativewaystocollectquantitative information on the status of these communities. An important measureistheabundanceofthedifferentspeciesofcoralthatcompose the community and their evolution over time. It is essential that the method used is both easy to implement underwater, reproducible, accurate, least time consuming as possible, inexpensive, requiring limited training, etc. The author of this article is leading a research project is to make “benthic substrate” identification more automatic: i.e. to have a computer either choose or at least provide the “expert” interpreter with a limited choice of substrate to choose from and thus take over asignificantproportionofthetimedevotedtotheanalysisofunderwater photographs or videos. A typical survey includes thousands of images and up to half a million identification to be performed. This represents several hundred hours of analysis. The funding for this research comes from a contract with OOCEP (Oman Oil Company for Exploration and Production) to monitor the coral reef communities near their new Gas Processing Plant in Musandam. The research itself will be conducted by an MSc student in Marine Science and Fisheries. At the same time we are developing a hardware (underwater video camera, lightning system) 20 December 2013 P4

which combined with the planned software will form an inexpensive, self-containedunitforcoralreefmonitoring.Suchsystemcouldbeused in Oman, in the region to monitor the status of coral communities. The first phase of the automatic identification project will be the identification of the underwater characteristics of substrates (sand, rubble, dead corals) and a few living species of coral abundant in the Musandam area. Although, to the eye, corals appear colorful, most of the color is in fact associated with the single species of symbiotic algae present in its tissue. The same species will thus often show a wide range of colors from pale brown to dark green and sometimes reddish hues. The perception of color underwater is further complicated by the rapidly changing spectrum of color in the water column with the red wavelengths disappearing first, followed by the yellow and the greens and followed eventually, in much deeper water by extinction of the blue wavelengths. In shallow water and under natural illumination, corals will show a wide range of color but in deeper water (only 4-5 meters deep), all coral look brownish-green due to the lack of red wavelengths. It is thus essential to “standardize” the illumination of the substrate by the use of an underwater lighting system to correct the color spectrum of the natural light. The second difficulty lies in the nature of the “texture” of the coral surfaces. As coral grow in all directions, very characteristic textures such as that of the brain coral, Platygyra daedalea arestatisticaltexture,notwocoralsareidentical.Furthermore,because the relative distance of the camera to the coral may vary and because individual colonies may also have polyps of slightly different sizes and morphology, the size of the textures will vary. We will use image analysismethodsthatextractrotationinvariantcharacteristicsfromthecoral images. These includes for instance the local binary pattern (LBP) that creates a histogram of the frequency of black-white patterns within the image,orgrayscaleco-occurrencematrix(GCM)thatmeasurestherelative distribution of grays within neighboring pixels the image. The efficiency of the system will be tested on video transects taken at various location in Oman and compared to analysis made the traditional way by a human analyst. An had-hoc software, “Videocoral”, was developed to provide an easy interface for image annotation: i.e. the identification of the substrates lying underneath predefined points on the image. Progressively, semi-automatic ( a limited choice of substrates, already sorted in descending order of likelihood will be offered to the analyst) then automatic identification (no analyst needed) will be added.

NewsRoundUp SQU Gets a Feel of Brazilian Culture

As part of its efforts to expand the horizon of knowledge on other cultures and bridge cultural divides among people of different nationalities, the English & Translation Society (ETS) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) organizes cultural nights every year centering on a particular country’s culture. The opening of the Brazilian Cultural Day was held recently under the patronage of H.E. Mitzi Gurgel Valente, the Ambassador of Brazil to the Sultanate. The activities associated with the event were aimed at exposing the rich cultural heritage including language, arts, craft, sports, dressing patterns, etc. of the Brazilians. Speaking on the occasion, Zahir bin Hamed Al Hashmi, president of the ETS, said: “This two day event features several activities that, we hope, will do right to the richness of the Brazilian culture which cannot be represented comprehensively in two days. We hope that this event would give of taste of Brazilian culture to our visitors that would inspire them to seek further knowledge about the land of the Samba. The event features workshops conducted by Brazilian people on their language, food, customs, and other aspects of their culture”. Through a comprehensive exhibition, the ETS members, provided information to the visitorsonthelanguage,history,economy,sociallife,football tradition, tourism attractions, food culture and other aspects of Brazil and its cultural heritage. Commenting on the event, H.E. Mitzi Gurgel Valente, the Ambassador of Brazil to the Sultanate, said that Oman is one of the most welcoming and friendliest countries that she had ever lived in. “It came as no surprise to me when I read about a recent survey that showed Oman as the best Arab country for women to live in. It is nothing but truth. The visionary leader of this blessed country personally foresees the social inclusion of women, as can be attested by the number of women represented today”, the Ambassador said. H.E. Mitzi Gurgel Valente further said that economically, Brazil and Oman are both developing countries and are heavily investing in their efforts to raise the living standards of their peoples. “Brazil- Oman bilateral commercial figures stand at a historic high of 1.12 billion US dollars, making Oman one of our main trade partnership Arab world. It is easy to find Brazilian products including poultry and cosmetics in most supermarkets in Oman”. The Ambassador had brought a small selection of Brazilian canapés and sweets for the all students to try. The Brazilian Cultural Day opening was attended by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, the Vice Chancellor of SQU and officials from the university and the Brazilian Embassy in Muscat.

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Research Workshop Explores Areas of Collaboration

The two day research workshop presented by researchers from Sultan Qaboos University and the University of Reading, UK, explored areas of collaborationinmedicine, engineeringand agriculture. The workshop organised by the Office of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation at SQU, was held at the Fahm hall of the Cultural Centre. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop today, H.H. Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation, said that being the fourth clause in the charter of Sultan Qaboos University, internationalisation is an issue that the university aims to strengthen, in order to raise its profile and promote collaboration with prestigious international universities that share the same interests. “In pursuance of this aim, in May this year, a high profile delegation from SQU had visited six universities in London and surrounding areas. The main mission of this delegation was to foster international ties as well as explore possible collaboration in medicine, training and research, joint research and student and staff exchange in different disciplines. The University of Reading have since maintained constructive interaction with The Office of External Cooperation to be one of the first from our visit, in taking the next step to establish collaboration with Sultan Qaboos University”, she said. The forenoon session of the first day of the workshop was earmarked to identify common areas of joint research in health related fields. Experts from two universities delivered talks on their research in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The second session discussed engineering research with focus on sustainable and eco-friendly building technologies and building energy. The third session, discussed on agricultural research focussing on mitigating effects of global change and increasing agricultural productivity for improved food security. The researcher from Oman talked about plant diseases with economic impact in Oman.

PSUAD Seeks Ties with SQU

In order to explore partnership between the two universities, Prof. Eric Fouache, Vice Chancellor of Paris-Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi campus (PSUAD), visited Sultan Qaboos University recently. Prof. Eric Fouache was received by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Saud Al Bimani, Vice Chancellor of SQU, and H.H. Sayyidah Dr. Mona bint Fahad Al Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Cooperation. They discussed on future ties between the two universities through exchange of faculty and students, and collaborative research. Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) offers Humanities and Social Sciences programs that carry the same curricula as in Université Paris-Sorbonne.PSUAD, incollaborationwithUniversitéParis-Descartes, offers Law and Political Science. The university offers a year-long Intensive French Course for those with no prior knowledge in French, in preparation for their enrolment in the Bachelor degrees. Degrees are granted from Paris and recognized worldwide. Around 700 students have been enrolled for different academic programs at PSUAD. Around 70 full time academic faculty and 4000 visiting consultants are attached to this university. Prof. Fouache was accompanied by Dr. Fatima Al Shamsi, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administrative Affairs at PSUAD.


Probiotics: Boon or Bane? By: Mrs. Jansirani Natarajan Lecturer, College of Nursing, SQU There are very few people who have not heard about the “new” health miracles called probiotics. They claim to help with health problems, ranging from constipation to diarrhea, and prevent colds or fight them once you already have one. Probiotics are showing up in foods, beverages, and supplements. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Theinterestofprobioticsasremediesforabroadnumberofgastrointestinal and other infectious diseases has gained wide interest over the last few years. Probiotics, live microbial food supplements that beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, are quickly gaining interest as functional foods in the current era of self-care and complementary medicine. Microbes have been used for years in food and alcoholic fermentations and relatively recently have undergone scientific scrutiny to examine their purported health benefits. Lactic acid fermentation is the simplest and safest way of preserving food and has probably always been used by humans. Species such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus salivarius are common in the human mucosa, from the mouth to the rectum. In food, L. paracasei and L. rhamnosus are usually associated with dairy products whereas L. plantarum is found in fermented foods of plant origin. Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes. Other foods currently claiming to provide probiotics are cereal, juice, frozen yogurt, granola, candy bars, and cookies. Bacterial species that have traditionally been regarded as safe are used in probiotics; the main strains used include lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria that inhabit the intestinal tracts of humans and animals. Probioticsarenonpathogenicmicroorganismsthat,wheningested,exert a positive influence on the health or physiology of the host. They can influence intestinal physiology either directly or indirectly through modulation of the endogenous ecosystem or immune system.

Some of the claims for which research supports a beneficial effect of probiotic consumption include: 1) The good tolerance of yogurt compared with milk in subjects with primary or secondary lactose maldigestion; 2) The use of Saccharomyces boulardii and EnterococcusfaeciumSF68topreventorshortenthedurationofantibiotic-associated diarrhea; 3)The use of S. boulardii to prevent further recurrence of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea; 4)TheuseoffermentedmilkscontainingLactobacillusrhamnosus GG to shorten the duration of diarrhea in infants with rotavirus enteritis (and probably also in gastroenteritis of other causes). Ingestionofviableprobioticsorprebioticsisassociatedwithanticarcinogenic effects, one mechanism of which is the detoxification of genotoxins in the gut. 5) U.S. researchers found that eating yoghurt twice daily reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain. But there was increased activity in areas associated with decisionmaking. Mechanismsbehind changesareunclear butitisclearthat gut bacteria send signals to the brain that can change over time depending on diet. Scientists hope that a probiotic therapy may one day be available for conditions including anxiety, depression and even autism and Alzheimer’s Disea. New research suggests potential applications in vaccine development and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Further studies are needed to take full advantage of this traditional medical approach and to apply it to the infectious diseases of the new millennium. Increasing consumer awareness of health-promoting intestinal bacteria has fueled the addition of viable probiotic bacteria as functional ingredients in certain foods. Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diet. While some studies have shown many health benefits of probiotics, more research still needs to be done to be sure that they are safe and effective as a supplement and in foods. This is especially true for children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems. However,toeffectivelymarkettheenhanced attributesofthesefoods, the added probiotic bacteria need to have scientific credibility.

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Promoting Innovation and Internationalization Innovation is key to development. Being the leading university in the Sultanate, SQU promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, and collaboration among students, faculty members, and industries across multiple sectors. This article explores what the college of Science, Agricultural & Marine Sciences, and Nursing do in order to promote the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among students and staff, as stated by Prof. Salma Al Kindi, Prof. Anvar Kacimov, and Dr. Esra Khasawneh, Deans of the respective colleges. The Dean’s also share their views on international ranking of universities.

Panorama expect to effectively contribute to further promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The mission and vision of the College of Science is to provide an outstanding education in science, to conduct high quality research of national and international importance, and to become a renownedregionalacademicinstitutionforexcellenceinteaching, research and community services. If we look at the indicators used in the QS World University Rankings: Academic reputation (40%), Reputation of graduates as judged by employers (10%), Faculty to Student ratio (20%), Number of citations per faculty (20%), Number of international faculty (5%), and Number of international students (5%), we see that as the College moves forward with its stated mission and vision it is inherently helping the University’s ranking. Specifically the college can further enhance its academic profile by continuingitseffortsin:hostingregionalandinternationalconferences and workshops; supporting faculty attendance and participationatinternationalconferences;andbypromotingpublication ofresearchfindingsinhigh-impactscientificjournals. Thecollege hasanexcellenttrackrecordinsecuringexternalresearchfunding, and the college will work with the university to further enhance the research infrastructure of the college. Departmental efforts to further strengthen degree quality by seeking professional-body accreditation will also improve the international academic reputation of the college. The QS World University Rankings use the Faculty to Student ratio as a measure of an institute’s commitment to teaching. The commitment of College of Science faculty and stafftoteachingexcellenceisunquestionable,butasstudentenrolment increases in the College and in College of Science courses, it is imperative that the college works with the university to ensure numbers of Faculty and teaching support staff also increase. Strengthening ties to alumni and local employers will ensure that program objectives and graduate strengths continue to reflect the needs of the community. College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences Prof. Anvar Kacimov, Dean of CAMS, opines that innovations, especially,globalinnovationsarebasedonstatisticallyhighlyskewed intellectual, technical or financial contributions. “There are few people who can make revolutionary, innovative breakthroughs in science and technology. The societies or cultures, if they want to innovate, should create a by-default elitist system of selecting and rewarding the singularities. Selections may be erroneous. But no selection at all and attempts to spread resources (always limited) equally are detrimental and guaranty no innovations”.

College of Science The College of Science has been actively involved in promoting the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among its students. This is evident fromthestudentachievementsinlastfewyears.CollegeofSciencestudents have won more than 20 national, regional and international awards. Their achievements have been strongly based on innovative and entrepreneurship skills nurtured during their studies. In addition to regular departmental student activities, every year the college organises activities for the week-long science festival in which students from different departments worktogetherinmulti-disciplinaryteamsandtoshowcaseinnovativeideas andprojects.CollegeofSciencestudentseffectivelycontributeasmembers oftheSQUinnovationsociety.Reflectingnationaleffortstosupportinnovation and entrepreneurship, the Research Council of Oman has recently announced a program fund aimed at increasing awareness of innovation, and promoting innovation in research, teaching and governess. The College of Science’s Assistant Dean for Postgraduate Studies and Research will serve as a director for this Research Council fund. In the university, the college has directly contributed to the SQU Intellectual Property policy, which we

SQU is doing well on many parameters counted in serious international rankings, as compared with the regional (GCC) universities. Theproblemisthatmanyworlduniversities,forexample,Chinese, are running very fast and the pace of SQU to match them should be accelerated. “What to do? First, stop castigating the ranking idea itself. Only losers find excuses. Second, there should be serious resource allocation to improve ranking, which simply integrates the solid core of what universities are doing - research, teaching and extension. Ranking will improve if SQU faculty publish more papersintop internationaljournalsofhighprestige, h-indicesand citation counts. SQU starts paying awards for publications in best journals and this is an excellent step forward”, Prof. Kacimov observed. College of Nursing The College of Nursing has been supporting innovations to empower the community. Under the guidance of a senior faculty, student nurses have served communities and built relationships with them during events organised under the umbrella of the Nursing Students Group. These events and efforts are aimed at improving people’s livelihoods, have focused on increasing community awareness of road traffic accidents; promoting health awareness and healthy lifestyle in the Omani society through mass media campaigns. In this regard, and for wider reach the group plans to launch the first nursing health program at Radio Sultanate soon. Other efforts have been focusing on sharing knowledge and skills throughtrainingandextendingassistancetootherpublicagencies by specialists from the College. The faculty at the College of Nursing have participated in various efforts to train nurses and teachers from Ministry of health Nursing school and hospitals in areas of research and nursing education. P7 20 December 2013

Straight Talk Horizon: Could you give a brief overview of AOB Belgrade and its advanced facilities in astronomical and astrophysics research?

Dr. Milan: AstronomicalObservatory Belgrade (AOB, founded 1887)

is a scientific institution with one of the longest traditions in Serbia. In the past several years AOB has undertaken a strong effort to modernize and improve its research capability, through construction of modern observationaltelescopefacilities,newcomputationalfacilities,hiringexperiencedresearchersfromabroadandactivelypursuinginternational collaborations. Today the staff of AOB consists of more than thirty researchers whose works are published in most prominent referred journals in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. Regarding new facilities for optical astronomy,in2011AOBstartedregularoperationsataremotemountaintop astronomical station which currently includes a 60cm telescope with a lodging house and supporting infrastructure. This telescope is mostly used for observations of double and variable stars and small bodies (asteroids) in the Solar system, as well as student training. The AOB plans to purchaseasecond,muchlarger(1.4meter)robotictelescopetobeplaced on this site in the near future.

Horizon: How would you comment on the partnership between AOB and SQU?

Dr. Milan: SQU has recently started offering an Astronomy minor

degree and is therefore rapidly expanding its educational efforts in astronomy. On the other hand, AOB has significant experience with student training at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. Our researchers regularly work with students from institutions like the University of Belgrade and other places in the role of mentors for senior student theses, MastersandPh.D.theses.However,bothteachingandresearchinastronomy and astrophysics are very dynamic and one must constantly work on keeping up with the latest achievements across the world. Therefore it is fortuitous that SQU and AOB are able to partner up at a crucial time of growth and benefit from each other’s experience.

Horizon: Can you explain on the scope of the joint activities with SQU and their significance?

Dr. Milan: We have identified two main areas of common interest to

SQU and AOB. Firstly, we would like to create an effective exchange of educational tools and other resources for student training in astronomy and astrophysics. In practice, our first step will be a joint effort in creating class and lab material for topics such as Observational Astronomy, as well as Astronomical Image Processing and Data Analysis. These topics are tightly connected to the state of latest technology and teaching them demands constant updating of class material. Very often printed textbooks significantly lag behind what is already commonly available. It can be quite challenging for single faculty members to keep up consistently and continuously. Working together can solve this problem. Secondly, it has been identified that it is in the mutual interest of SQU and AOB to support an effective exchange of resources for joint research projects. Rarely is the case that small research groups are able to gather all the necessary components,requiredtocarryoutfirstgradescientificwork,atonesingle institution. These components include identifying a promising research goal,theknow-howofdatacollecting,theknow-howofdataanalysis,the instrumentationrequiredand,nottobeforgotten,thehumanresourcesto carry out the work (scientists, technical staff, students). For example, by sharing our research visions the two institutions can plan to acquire new instrumentation in a way which is complementary and not duplicate. Additionally, within a framework of a joint research project, we can delegate appropriate smaller tasks to students from both SQU and AOB in a way that makes their work both educational and a part of a larger, more scientifically valuable effort.

Horizon: Can we expect exchange of researchers and students between these two institutions in future?

Dr. Milan: The SQU-AOB partnership envisions the exchange of faculty and researchers. This is one of our goals as it is well known how the circulation of people stimulates the development of new ideas, apart from obviously improving the efficiency of knowledge transfer. Regarding student exchange, the specifics will have to be developed over time as we progress with our work on the student training material tailored for the existing research equipment.

Dr. Milan Bogosavljević A Research Associate and Manager of Astronomical station Vidojevica at Astronomical Observatory Belgrade (AOB), Serbia, Dr. Milan Bogosavljević, is the AOB’s focal point of the partnership between SQU and AOB in astrophysics and astronomy. In this interview, Dr. Milan Bogosavljević, speaks about his institution and its ties with SQU which promotes close multidisciplinary collaboration between scientists.