KU research complex named after Prof Voelter

Updated February 12, 2016

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KARACHI: To pay tribute to the services of Prof Wolfgang Voelter to Pakistan, particularly to the research institutes of chemical and biological sciences at Karachi University (KU), a ceremony was held on the KU campus on Thursday to name a newly established research complex after the renowned German scientist.

Built with the support of the federal government at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), the Rs85 million new research wing focuses on applied chemical science, textile chemistry, nanochemistry and other disciplines of national need.

Highlighting Prof Voelter’s services, former chairman of the Higher Education Commission Prof Atta-ur-Rahman said he had tremendous love and respect for the people of Pakistan and confidence in their abilities. He was Pakistan’s great supporter and was like a role model for all Pakistani students.

“His services are tremendous. We couldn’t have achieved excellence in research without his support in the early stages of development [of the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry and ICCBS],” he said, adding that he also extended support in other areas of science in Pakistan.

A recipient of many international awards, Prof Voelter was truly the ambassador of Pak-German scientific cooperation and friendship between the two great nations, he said.

“The government of Pakistan acknowledged his services by awarding two civil awards, Hilal-i-Pakistan and Sitara-i-Pakistan. Today, the ICCBS is the only centre of excellence in chemical and biological sciences in the Islamic world,” he told the audience.

German ambassador Ina Lepel said Germany and Pakistan had strong bilateral educational and cultural relations. Over a decade, around 90 German students and researchers had got training at the ICCBS, she pointed out.

“A large number of Pakistanis visit Germany to get enrolled in various educational and scientific programmes,” she said.

KU vice chancellor Prof Mohammad Qaiser said Prof Voelter played a key role in providing crucial financial assistance to the KU in research. “His great services will always be remembered in Pakistan,” he remarked.

It was also recalled during the programme that Prof Voelter first visited Pakistan in 1974 and met Prof Salimuzzaman Siddiqui and Prof Atta-ur-Rahman at the KU’s department of chemistry. He convinced the German government and German Technical Cooperation Agency to approve substantial grants for the H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry which allowed it to acquire sophisticated equipment, such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), circular dichroism (CD) instruments, and further laboratory equipment, chemicals, and textbooks.

It was also said that the German professor trained and supported a large number of young Pakistanis in their careers as a true mentor.

“Approximately 40 Pakistani scientists, students, and technicians have got advanced research training in the esteemed laboratory of Prof Voelter, including 20 full PhDs,” said director of the ICCBS Prof Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary.

Former Prime Minister of Jordan and Chancellor of the University of Petra Prof Adnan Badran and secretary to the Sindh chief minister Dr Iqbal Hussain Durrani, president Hamdard Foundation Pakistan Sadia Rashid also spoke.

Earlier, the German ambassador visited the laboratories complex and briefed about its facilities.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2016