With the increase in scientific knowledge globally, the Caribbean still finds itself in the role of technology importer. Prof Suresh Narine of Guyana is one of the people who is actively changing that with reference to the physical and chemical sciences. His work in Guyana and in Canada has created the rare bridge between scientific research and commercial application, and in many cases, lessened environmental impact.
Prof Narine is the Director of the Institute of Applied Science in Guyana (IAST) and a Pro-fessor at Trent University in Canada, where he directs the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Re-search. He also holds the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Lipid Derived Biomaterials and the Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Engineering. His work as a researcher has led to an enviable 138 peer-reviewed publications, two books, 22 patents, and the creation of environmentally friendly economic activity in Guyana, Canada and beyond.
Though he lives and was educated in Canada, Prof Narine holds dual citizenship and returns to Guyana on a monthly basis for his participation in its technological and scientific develop-ment. In Guyana, he is credited for single-handedly reviving the IAST, through persistent lob-bying and attracting research funds, and turning it into the premier institution of its kind – in research chemistry, materials science, environmental monitoring, and physical properties analy-sis – in the region.
Under his stewardship, the IAST has produced several commercial applications. These in-clude biodiesel, for which a plant was commissioned in Wauna, Mabaruma in 2006, using palm oil. Additionally, the IAST has produced breakfast cereals and other food products from locally sourced materials; it has been able to create a substitute for mercury in gold extraction using activated carbon from coconut shells; and it has launched three projects to find commercial applications for waste biomass in Guyana to substitute for using wood for commercial purposes, which causes deforestation.
In addition to his research work, Prof Narine has written policy documents for the Guyanese government including its current Science and Technology Policy and its first Agro-energy pol-icy. He is also the chair of Research and Innovation in Guyana’s National Science Council and chair of the Energy Thematic Group on Guyana’s National Competitiveness Council.
In Canada, where in 2011 he was named as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Leaders”, as direc-tor of the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, Prof Narine’s efforts have produced commer-cially viable research in the areas of zero-trans fat/lowered saturated fat shortenings, margarines and confections; polyurethane foams, elastomers and plastics from canola oil; and lubricants from vegetable oils. He is also responsible for a number of international research-to-application initiatives in India, Malaysia, Brazil and Israel.
He is a member of the Canadian Association of Physicists, the American Physical Society, the International Federation of Food Technologists, and the American Oil Chemists Society. He is also a much-sought after speaker in the Caribbean and North America on topics of the inter-relationships between commerce, science and the environment to lay and professional audi-ences. Prof Narine is particularly proud of his role as a father to triplets: Vandana, Rudra and Geetanjali.