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IFS Contributes to a Knowledge-based Economy in Pakistan

Published: 2019-02-28

During 2019, our blog posts will primarily feature a range of countries in which IFS has awarded grants to early-career scientists, drawing on responses to a 15-item survey with mostly open-ended questions that we are sending to former and present grantees in selected countries, as an element of this year’s process culminating in our new 2021-2030 strategy. This month we highlight Pakistan, where 105 grants (30 to women and 75 to men) have been awarded by IFS since it was founded in 1974. As one respondent noted, “A knowledge-based economy of a country is more stable, more robust and more flexible than an oil-based or industry-based one. Thus, science plays the foremost role in national development.”

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

Of the 89 invitations sent to colleagues in Pakistan, 42 (or 47%) responded to the survey. Among them, 7.14% have master's degrees, 59.52% have doctorates and 33.33% have done post-doctoral work, and they are all living and working in Pakistan. They are professors and lecturers of various ranks, and scientists in government and private laboratories, with positions and research areas in agriculture and agronomy, animal health, biotechnology, botany, chemistry, environmental science, forestry, genetic engineering and space technology, among others. Of the many examples given of how their research has been put into use, of note are the production of disease-resistant varieties of cucumber and cotton, techniques for monitoring glacial lakes, food safety improvements, and cheaper materials for water purification.

In response to a question about exciting or rewarding professional experiences, were the examples of receiving a Fulbright post-doctoral fellowship, being the first Pakistani to get a PhD in a particular field, and, for many, applying for and receiving research grants, fellowships and funding.

It was this last experience that was overwhelmingly cited as the most important factor contributing to career development, in light of career challenges such as limited resources, the politics of institutions and science communities, and gender issues. Women respondents considered that funding, fair treatment, understanding of their circumstances, and opportunities to gain confidence would be most helpful to achieving their career goals. When asked what they think needs to change so that women can play a more significant role in science and research, men respondents highlighted factors such as equal opportunities, flexibility in work arrangements and provision of child care.

Common suggestions for how linkages can be strengthened among scientists, research institutions, grants-making organizations and funding sources included opportunities and funds for travel, networking, and collaborative research. Social media was also mentioned as a relatively inexpensive platform for scientists to meet, interact with each other, and work together. Finally, with regards to perceptions of the role of science in national development, it was seen as paramount, though in the words of one respondent, "... there is still a gap in terms of policy and national level decisions to be taken on the basis of scientific reports and recommendations.” Another colleague noted, “A knowledge-based economy of a country is more stable, more robust and more flexible than an oil-based or industry-based one. Thus, science plays the foremost role in national development.”

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae

Director

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