19-year-old Ahmed Yesvi Rafa completed his HSC this year from Dhaka Residential Model College (DRMC). He will soon be starting his first semester at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, majoring in Biological Systems Engineering, with a 65 percent scholarship. He was also one of the first runners-up at the National Biology Olympiad in 2016. From a young age, Rafa harboured the dream of studying in the USA. He knew that to stand out amongst other university applicants, he needed to take part in co-curricular activities as well as research. He served as the General Secretary of the DRMC Language Club. After completing his SSC, he founded Yugen Research Organisation in Bangladesh, with two of his friends who participated in the National Biology Olympiad with him. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that works for biomedical research. Rafa opens up about his goals in research and more.
How did you develop such a keen interest in research?
I came to discover my inherent interest in biological sciences when I was in school. My first research paper was on Quantum Theory after which I shifted to Biology. Research in biology is a lot easier to carry out, in the absence of experimental data. So, despite my love for Mathematics and Physics, I chose Biology, simply because the research in this field is more feasible and theoretical. My interest in the field of Biology led me to work under Mauro Luisetto, an Italian scientist, who has published over 100 articles. I co-wrote and published 12 articles with him. One of them is added in the digital libraries of renowned institutions, such as Duke University and Harvard University. My research publications helped me to become an advisor of the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at International Mariinskaya Academy, Russia. I want to put in as much work as I can towards making the world a better place.
Share some details about the projects of Yugen Research Organisation.
We are currently working on two researches based on cancer. Our objective is to use negative beams to penetrate cancer cells, and build relations between pions and the human body and simultaneously, identify biomarkers for directing cancer cells.
As a young researcher, what do you think about the state of the research sector in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh falls behind in the arena of experimental means, without which research papers are incomplete. To develop the youth’s interest in research, we need to incorporate actual experiments in schools and colleges, offering students a wide range of lab activities. We also lack the exposure to new technology. Building strong connections with university professors worldwide is also crucial when it comes to research. It is difficult for students to conduct research in the country, especially as undergraduates. We at Yugen Research Organisation are providing encouragement and support to undergraduate students to carry out theoretical research.
You also attended the 9th Social Business Day. How was the experience?
Being in the presence of well-known entrepreneurs and seeing how social businesses can change the world was exciting to say the least. I learned about the role of social work in businesses and it was a fun as well as educational experience.