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Ahmad Zaharin Aris

Ahmad Zaharin Aris, PhD, CEnv, MRSC, FGS, the 2016/2017 SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair obtained his BSc (Hons) degree in 2005 in Environmental Science and PhD degree in the field of Environmental Science specializing in the field of Hydrochemistry from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) at the age of 25. To date, he is the youngest PhD recipient at UMS and also one of the youngest in Malaysia. Ahmad Zaharin Aris was appointed as a Professor at the age of 33 at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) specializing in the fields of Hydrochemistry, Geochemistry, Environmental Chemistry and Analysis and Environmental Forensics. Previously, he was an Associate Professor (2013-2016) and Senior Lecturer (2009-2013) at the same department and was employed as a Tutor at UPM in 2007. He emerged as a strong, innovative university leader where he has been appointed the Dean in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (2016-2019). Prior to the present appointment, he was the Deputy Dean (Graduate, Research and Development) for two years (2014-2016) as well as the Head of the Environmental Forensics Research Centre (ENFORCE) at UPM from 2011 to 2014. He also holds many other chairmanships and committee members for various committees at UPM as well as national and international stands. He played a key role in establishing the environmental forensics context and accelerates the research and policy strategies that now have become parts of the Malaysia Transformation Plan.


As an academic staff of UPM, Ahmad Zaharin Aris has been active in teaching and doing research. In the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Studies, He has been teaching courses in the Environmental Science and Technology programme (e.g. Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Forensics, Hydrochemistry and Geochemistry, Soil and Water Sciences, Environmental Hydrology and Hydrogeology) at undergraduate level as well as at graduate level (e.g. Water Science, Environmental Research Design and Methodology, Environmental Research Project and Environmetric). His involvement and contribution have helped to develop curriculum for Environmental Science and Technology discipline at UPM and also for several public and private universities in the country. Ahmad Zaharin Aris has supervised more than 88 MS (including Master by Coursework) and PhD students and 4 Post-Docs including one foreign professor for his sabbatical attachment. Under his supervision, 14 PhD (6 as Chairman), and 29 Master (including Master by Coursework) students (6 as Chairman for MS and 23 for Master by Coursework) successfully graduated. On top of that, 35 Bachelor students successfully completed their final year projects. Ahmad Zaharin Aris has been appointed as internal as well as external examiners for MS and PhD theses locally and internationally namely Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Teknologi MARA, University of South Australia, Australia, Vellore Institute of Technology, India, Bharathiar University, India and PSGR Krishnammal College for Women, India. Ahmad Zaharin Aris also sits in the board of advisor for Master of Environmental Forensics curriculum development for Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Polytechnic Division, Ministry of Higher Education for its Environmental Science curriculum as well as board member for various numbers of academic programs in UPM. He also sits as a board member for one international master joint program sponsored by Erasmus Plus (Erasmus +) by European Union (EU) as well as a panel for academic promotion at several universities.


Ahmad Zaharin Aris has received more than million research fund for more than 60 projects from various agencies locally and internationally where he is the Principal Investigator for 27 projects (7 international and 20 national grants; more than ). Ahmad Zaharin Aris is the youngest faculty with a brilliant academic record including nearly 300 academic writings related to his field in refereed international journals (over 220; 193 in SCI Journals), books (5; 1 published by Springer-Verlag) and chapters in books (37; 23 published in Springer-Verlag book) and the rest is conference papers as well as four (4) policy papers with over 2400 and 4300 citations (SCOPUS; h-index 25 and Google Scholar; h-index 33). Over 50% of his published SCI papers are in Q1 and Q2 tiers. Few of his papers ranked as the most downloaded papers and received many citations within a short period of time. The Elsevier’s Scival Spotlight (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) has ranked him third among the list of global experts under the category of Distinguished Competency of water quality, sediment and pollution. One of his remarkable discoveries from his water purification research is that crab shells and calcareous skeleton can be effectively used for elimination of copper and cadmium from contaminated waters. This remarkable research finding has caught scientific community and industry (i.e GE Water & Process Technologies, USA, Water Environment Federation, USA, ResearchSEA, UK) attention and has been highlighted in their websites and articles as a new discovery and having great potential of applicability. In 2015, together with his colleagues, he successfully filed two patents application on “Water Filter Paper” and “Method of Preparing Biosorbent and Biosorbent for Removal of Endocrine Disrupting Compounds and Heavy Metals” in 2018 and one industrial design copyright on “Water Filter” in 2016 as well as one copyright on emerging pollutants risk survey in 2018.

Indeed, this is an extraordinary accomplishment by a very young scientist and for that, Ahmad Zaharin Aris has been awarded with many prestigious awards nationally and internationally. In recognition of his academic and leadership capabilities, Ahmad Zaharin Aris was awarded with Excellence Service Award and Certificate of Excellence, Universiti Putra Malaysia (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018), Publication Incentive Award, Universiti Putra Malaysia (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016), more than 15 Travel Grant Awards as Keynote Speaker and Plenary Speaker for international and national conferences and symposiums. He appeared in few newspapers headline as “Youngest PhD recipient” in 2009 and appeared in “Malaysia: Who’s Who, Constitution, Government and Politics (2013/2014 Edition)” on “Youngest PhD graduate” published by Kasuya Management Sdn. Bhd. He had been featured in more than 20 appearances in TV, newspaper and magazine for his expertise especially on water security and environmental forensics. Ahmad Zaharin Aris was also awarded with a prestigious award by Universiti Putra Malaysia with Young Scientist Award for 2013 and Vice Chancellor Fellowship Award and nominated for TWAS Earth Sciences Prize 2015, and Eni Prize (Protection of the environment) 2015 where the nomination was by invitation from the selection committee due to his extraordinary achievements in research. Known to be one of the youngest SEARCA (Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture) Professorial Chair grantees, Ahmad Zaharin Aris is also the finalist (1st Runner Up) for 2016 National Young Scientist Award by Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia. He received The Golden Globe Tigers Award 2017 – Best Professor in Environmental Studies in April 2017. Recently, he received Malaysia’s top recognition as a Top Research Scientist Malaysia (TRSM) 2018 in recognition to his contribution and achievements in the field of Environmental Chemistry and Analysis by Academy Sciences of Malaysia. He is also a finalist for Zayed International Prize (Young Scientists Award for Environmental Sustainability) and being the national representative for APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (“ASPIRE”).


Ahmad Zaharin Aris is currently an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports (Q1), Nature Publishing Group, Associate Editor for Environmental Geochemistry and Health (Q1), Springer, Guest Editor for Chemosphere special issue journal on “Drinking Water Quality – New Issues, Risks & Solutions” (Elsevier, 2017-2018), Editor for SpringerPlus Journal (2015-2016), Associate Editor for International Journal of Sediment Research, Elsevier, Associate Editor for Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management, Review Editor for Frontiers in Environmental Toxicology, Editorial Board Member for Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management and Journal of Pollution (Pollution), Associate Editor for Research Journal of Environmental Sciences, Asian Journal of Earth Sciences and Journal of Environmental Science and Technology and to name few. Ahmad Zaharin Aris also served as a Guest Editor for four citation-indexed journals namely EnvironmentAsia, World Applied Sciences Journal, Frontiers in Chemistry (including Frontiers in Environmental Science) and Procedia Environmental Science, for its special issues in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015 respectively. He has been appointed as International Scientific Committee Member for few international conferences and was the Founding Chairman of the International Conference on Environmental Forensics 2013 (iENFORCE2013). Ahmad Zaharin Aris has been invited to give numerous talks and tutorials, and consultant to organizations involved in his field of research locally and internationally. Ahmad Zaharin Aris has been continuously invited by Springer-Verlag and other institutions locally and internationally to give inspirational talks since 2012 to share his experience as a young scientist on publishing in academic journals and career as an academician. Up to date, he has delivered more than 50 lectures and talks as an Invited Speaker, Plenary Speaker and Keynote Speaker in various occasions locally and internationally including many talk and engagement with public and school children. So far, he engaged and interreacted with more than 5000 audiences.

Long an advocate for the research university as an engine of innovation and economic growth for the country, Ahmad Zaharin Aris also strived to shape emerging national policy on Mainstreaming Natural Resource Management Towards Achieving Sustainable Development for Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016-2020. Some of his research findings have been used to set up guidelines and policies on environmental issues for example in setting up the National Water Quality Standards, revising the National Water Quality Standards, National Lake Water Quality Standards and National Groundwater Quality Standards for Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia and Ministry of Health Malaysia. Being involved with the community has been always part of his research mission and orientation, enabling local people to gain a better understanding and benefits from the findings after the research projects were completed. Recently, he sits as the advisor, steering committee member and expert advisor to the Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia in their “Legislative Provisions for Inclusion of Environmental Forensic in Prosecution”. In this provision, the DOE will place greater emphasis on the precautionary principle approach as one of the key considerations towards enhancing the environmental protection legislative framework of Malaysia. The precautionary principle enables rapid response in the face of possible danger to human, animal or plant health, or to protect the environment. The principle may be invoked when a phenomenon is identified by scientific or objective evaluation to have potentially adverse effects; case-in-point environmental contamination that resulted in severe environmental damage. In 2014, the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago invited him as an advisor for establishment plan of the Institute of Environmental Forensics, for the country – a deep international recognition of his contributions and expertise. Besides, various government agencies and private sectors are now proposing and adopting the Environmental Forensics approach as part of their environmental monitoring, assessment, and policy revision strategies. This shows the results of his hard work on establishing and promoting environmental forensics in the country has paid off where it successfully brought to public or policy makers’ attention in significant environmental sustainability issues with mobilizing action towards their solution. He has instituted many impressive and successful programs including establishing comprehensive chemical databases for fingerprinting and hub for training and technology transfer in environmental forensics. Besides, he also plays an important role in helping few agencies for the revision of their analytical analysis especially for the environmental samples.


Other than his capabilities in his expert areas, he also sits as an advisor for few NGOs and bodies such as Koperasi Usahawan Belia Inovatif dan Kreatif Kedah Berhad. Besides, with his leadership personalities, he successfully engaged big companies and renowned universities such as Bayer (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. and few other industry players, to work with the university. Ahmad Zaharin Aris is also actively engaged the public through his knowledge dissemination program in order to educate and enhance the public participatory in the environmental issues around them. This program was channelized through various media social platforms (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter) through #WeCare, #UPMGreenCampus and #HydrochemistryLaboraroty. This has created bigger opportunity for the researchers not to restrict their potential but to explore more potential and to complement each other’s in terms of research findings and discoveries. He led and initiated few MOUs and MOAs with few higher learning institutions locally and internationally for example Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea, and Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China. He also actively involved as a member of various committees such as Jawatankuasa Penilaian Spesifikasi Dokumen Sebutharga and Jawatankuasa Penilaian Perunding for Projek Penambahan Rangkaian Stesen Pengawasan Air Tanah Kebangsaan di Semenanjung Malaysia, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia, Panel for Postdoctoral Scholarship Selection Committee for Human Life Advancement Foundation (HLAF), Panel of Research Assessment for Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS), Science Fund, Research University Grant Scheme (RUGS), South African Medical Research Council and EU Fund. He also actively sits as a panel of assessment and interviewer for Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships for example Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan and Biasiswa Yang Dipertuan Agong since 2017.


To date, Ahmad Zaharin Aris is a member of International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) since 2008, and Malaysian Analytical Sciences Society (ANALIS) since 2006 and elected as Fellow of The Geological Society, London (FGS) in 2011 to recent. He has been elected as Member of Young Scientist Network for Academy Sciences of Malaysia (YSN-ASM) for 2012-2018 and Member, Royal Society Chemistry (MRSC), London (2016-recent). He also received his chartered certification (CEnv – Chartered environmentalist) from Royal Society of Chemistry, London in 2017.

Dr Ahmad Zaharin Aris is a Malaysian and was born in Penang State on 5th June 1983.

Latest Update : Thu, 06 Jan 2022 (gs50309)