It is with a sense of sadness and sorrow that the President and the Director General of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in Amman, Jordan, announce the passing away of the eminent Pakistani scientist: Prof. M. Ajmal Khan, Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences. He was 66.
Professor Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Professor & Director, Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization, University of Karachi spent over 30 years in teaching and research. He was awarded the degree of MSc (1974) by the University of Karachi, PhD (1985) by Ohio University, USA and DSc (2010) by the University of Karachi. He was the recipient of Ohio University teaching assistantship (1980-1984); National Science Foundation, USA postdoctoral fellowship at Brigham Young University, USA (1984-1985); Fulbright visiting scholar, Ohio University, USA (1995-1996) and Adjunct Professorship at Brigham Young University, USA (1996-1997).
During the year 2000, Dr Khan was awarded Pakistan Academy of Science and INFAQ Foundation joint gold medal (1999) in the field of Botany. The President of Pakistan awarded Dr Khan with the Pride of Performance on 14th August 2001 and Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2007 in recognition of his scientific contribution. He was elected a Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences in 2001 and TWAS in 2004.
Based on the Journal Citation Report (JCR), the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology ranked him among the leading biologists for the year 1999. In 2004, he was ranked as the best biologist and second in 2005 and 2007 and 13th among the scientists of all disciplines. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan awarded him the title of Distinguished National Professor during 2005, and the Pakistan Academy of Sciences awarded him the title of Distinguished Professor of the year 2008.
Professor Khan joined the University of Karachi as a Lecturer in 1977. He was appointed as Assistant Professor of Botany in 1985, Associate Professor of Botany in 1989, Professor of Botany in 1996 and Director, Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization in 2007. He has been instrumental in establishing a Halophyte Biology Laboratory in the Department of Botany for research on cash crop halophytes where more than 35 post-graduate students have completed their degrees.
Prof. Khan has completed 27 research projects on various aspects of salt tolerance in plants and has done pioneering work on mechanisms involving endogenous growth inhibitors under salt stress. He has published more than 180 research papers in well-known international journals, edited 8 books, arranged numerous symposia, participated in scientific moots and delivered invited lectures in several institutions of China, Hong Kong, Egypt, India, Bahrain, UAE., Morocco, Tunisia, Nepal, Turkey, Germany, and USA.
Dr. Khan’s research primarily focused on the utilization of areas destroyed by water logging and salinity by using non-conventional agricultural crops. During the last twelve years he has been working with scientists from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA and Pakistan to develop new technologies to grow non conventional agricultural crops using seawater irrigation. He had also collaborated with a group of Chinese scientists under Pakistan – China collaboration protocol to further develop saline agriculture. He had achieved considerable success in running a sustainable system of fodder production and cattle farming with non-conventional crops irrigated with brackish water. He had demonstrated the feasibility of using a diet for cattle composed entirely of halophytes besides finding a number of halophyte seeds with high quality edible oil.
Dr. Khan’s research could revolutionize the agricultural scenario by using wastelands and low quality water to produce cash crop halophytes for the benefit of mankind particularly those located in the arid and sub-arid regions.
Prof. Khan was elected as a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences in 2011.
Prof. Khan will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fellow scientists in the Islamic World. “Ina Lillah Wa Ina Ilaihi Raj’oon.”
IAS President, Fellows and staff offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and friends throughout the world.