Fulbright scholars with US Embassy deputy chief of mission, Edgard D Kagan (ninth from right) with Dr James Coffman at the award ceremony. Pix by ZUNNUR AL SHAFIQ.

THREE scholars recently became the first recipients of the Fulbright-MCMC grants.

They were among 17 Malaysian recipients of this year’s Fulbright and other US government-funded grants to study in the United States for 2016-17.

The grantees comprised senior scholars, researchers, graduate students and undergraduates in Malaysian institutions.

They are the 53rd annual group of Malaysian scholars going to US institutions under the Fulbright programme since the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE)’s founding in 1963.

The recipients of the newly-created Fulbright-MCMC grants funded jointly by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the US State Department are Tan Win Son, Dr Mohammad Faizal Ahmad Fauzi and Professor Victor W. Mbarika.

Dr Mohammad Faizal from Multimedia University will be hosted at Ohio State University as a senior researcher in the area of digital pathology and histopathological image analysis.

“My aim is to be a pioneer in this specific research area and subsequently find medical collaborators to work in this area in future,” he said.

“With the advent of whole slide imaging, the field of digital pathology has exploded and is regarded as one of the most promising avenues of diagnostic medicine.

“In Malaysia, however, research in this field has yet to take off.

“The Center for Visual Computing at Multimedia University is trying to become the pioneer and leader of digital pathology research in Malaysia.”

Tan will be pursuing postgraduate studies in Data Sciences at Arizona State University.

“I hope that my exposure to the leading practices of analytics professionals in the US will allow me to help improve local organisations like those overseeing our public transport system,” he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Victor W. Mbarika, a senior specialist in augmented reality and gamification from Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, will be hosted by Dr Fakhrul Hazman Yusoff from Universiti Teknologi MARA.

The Fulbright-MCMC grant is a platform to promote specialist, research and development related to the communications and multimedia industry in Malaysia.

The MCMC Academy’s advisor, Toh Swee Hoe, said that applications for the next Fulbright-MCMC grant are now open.

The key priority areas for the 2016 grant are Smart Digital Nation (Cities and Communities), Data Sciences and Analytics, Internet of Things, Information and Network Security, Policy and Regulatory Matters (spectrum, competition, access pricing, etc), and Digital Inclusion.

Toh added that the awardees will not be tied down when they return, except that MCMC will engage with them and help them share their knowledge with the industry.

At the award ceremony held recently in Kuala Lumpur, one former Fulbright Scholar who addressed the latest batch of awardees was astrophysicist Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman, the first director of Angkasa, Malaysia’s National Space Agency.

Mazlan, who was based in Washington DC for four months, said she was privileged to have been able to witness policy-making in Congress first-hand.

“I learned that for a policy to work, there has to be a realistic estimate of the investment, including funding and human capital, required to implement the policy to ensure the objectives are met,” she said.

“But I didn’t forget to have fun, too. In DC, there are loads of events and activities that will grab your attention continuously!”

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