On May 12, 2021, as the main facilitator, Kasetsart University (KU) conducted its fourth periodic meeting through an online platform to report on the achievements of the consortium over the past six months, its future strategic plan, and the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting resulted in several fruitful discussions. Details of the progress made on the scholarship program, collaborative research, mobility activities, double degree program, external linkage beyond the ASEAN, and financial management were shared with representatives from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), National University of Laos (NUOL), University of Yangon (UY), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRM), India, Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal, Auromex Co., Ltd., and the JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net.

In terms of student management, the ICE-Matter committee shared the various challenges experienced with the enrollment of the second batch of students from the National University of Laos (NUOL), Laos PDR, during the novel coronavirus situation. With firm coordination among students, the ICE-Matter committee, and Thai Consulate in Laos PDR, the two NUOL students safely entered Thailand across the Savannakhet-Mukdahan border and successfully enrolled in the second semester of the 2021 academic year without experiencing any academic inactivity.

The second batch of students from the National University of Laos (NUOL)

Online block lectures were successfully conducted by Prof. Jun Otha and Prof. Hiroharu Ajiro from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan. Eleven students from the ASEAN, including ICE-Matter students, attended the classes.

Block lecture given by NAIST professors (online class)

Current ICE-Matter students with their friends at Kasetsart University, Bangkok

Regarding research collaboration, ICE-Matter has started its collaboration with a new partner in Malaysia led by Dr. Wei Lun Ang, from the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan (UKM), Malaysia. Dr. Ang also acts as a co-investigator in the Special Program for Research against COVID-19 (SPRAC). Under this program, more than 80 gowns/scrubs have been distributed to hospitals in Thailand during the novel coronavirus situation.

SPRAC team members and medical staff in Thailand

Furthermore, ICE-Matter is continuing its network expansion by initiating a fresh collaboration with two new industrial partners in Thailand. The consortium will conduct collaborative research on structural materials with Shera Public Company Limited, Thailand. Lab facilities at the plants, in-kind support for materials, and internship support will also be provided. Another collaborative research project on energy storage materials is planned with Global Power Synergy Public Company Limited (GPSC, PTT Group). The company has agreed to provide lab facilities at the plant, in-kind materials, and equipment support as well as future financial support.

In addition, the consortium has recently expanded its linkage with two institutions in India and Nepal through the Post-doctoral fellowship program. ICE-Matter is planning to conduct a Post-doctoral fellowship project for research on energy storage materials with the Electrochemical Energy Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, School of Basic Sciences, SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRM), India and aims to conduct another Post-doctoral fellowship for nanomaterial research with the Department of Applied Sciences and Chemical Engineering, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal. These successful ICE-Matter achievements represent splendid additional outputs for this Japanese fiscal year 2021.

Last but not least, another big accomplishment of the consortium is the AUN/SEED-Net Double Degree Program with the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) and Kasetsart University. Both parties have recently approved the program and a formal MOA signing ceremony is planned to be held online in June or July 2021.

The JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net would like to thank all partners for their considerable efforts in producing continuous outputs for ICE-Matter. We look forward to another chapter in your success!

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