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Dr. Mihir Lal Saha

Faculty of Biological Sciences
Dean of the Faculty

In 1921, the foundation of the University of Dhaka was based on three faculties of which one was the Faculty of Science. The departments of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics were placed under the Faculty of Science. In 1939, Department of Biology was opened under it but ran only until 1954, during which the Department of Biology was separated into two independent departments such as Botany and Zoology. At some early times i.e., in 1949 Department of Soil Science was opened. Some other disciplines of biological sciences like the Departments of Biochemistry (1957), Pharmacy (1964) and Psychology (1965) were also established and placed under the Faculty of Science. After the Great War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, followed by the enactment of the historical 1973 Dhaka University Ordinance by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Honorable Chancellor of the University of Dhaka, the research and academic status of the university took a dynamic move. In 1975, under the leadership of Bose Professor Dr. Abdul Matin Chaudhury as the Honorable Vice Chancellor of the University of Dhaka, the new Faculty of Biological Sciences was founded. Professor Dr. AKM Nurul Islam of the Department of Botany was elected unopposed as the Founder Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences. During its inception, the Faculty of Biological Sciences contained the Departments of Soil Science, Botany, Zoology, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, and Psychology. In due course, few more departments namely, Microbiology (1979), Aquaculture and Fisheries (1997), Clinical Psychology (1997), Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (2000), Educational and Counselling Psychology (2011) and Public Health (2019) were opened. However, in 2003 the Department of Pharmacy was converted into a separate faculty making the Faculty of Biological Sciences to nurture 11 departments. Of which the Department of Public Health has not yet been brought under fully functional. Therefore, at present the faculty has been running with 10 fully functional departments with high reputations.

Just after the establishment of the faculty, during the academic session of 1974-1975, the College of Home Economics, Dhaka was attached to it. Later on, Bangladesh Home Economics College (1996), National Home Economics College (1998), Mymensingh Home Economics College (2008) and Akij College of Home Economics (2017) were established and duly affiliated to the Faculty of Biological Sciences. From 1988, the academic curricula of the Government Homoeopathic Medical College, Dhaka was placed under this faculty but now it is under the Faculty of Pharmacy. In 2000, changes in the name of two departments of this faculty occurred. The oldest department namely, the ‘Department of Soil Science’ was changed to ‘Department of Soil, Water and Environment’ and the ‘Department of Biochemistry’ was changed to the department of ‘Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’. In 2004, the name of the department of Aquaculture and Fisheries was changed to ‘Department of Fisheries’. The name of the research center ‘Centre for Biological Research’ was changed to ‘Centre for Advanced Studies and Research in Biological Sciences’.

For advanced research in the different area of biological sciences, the Biotechnology Research Centre and the Advanced Centre for Biological Research were established under the Faculty of Biological Sciences until 1995. In due course of time, Bangladesh-Australia Centre for Environmental Research; Chromosome Research Centre; Centre for Bioinformatics Learning Advancement and Systematic Training; and Neuroscience Research Centre of Dhaka University are also enlisted under this faculty. Therefore, other than full-fledged departments in various disciplines of biological sciences, research centres providing funds for research activities of the faculty members. In collaboration with Arboriculture Centre, the Department of Botany manages the overall beautification of the campus. From the eminent botanists, the post of the Director for Arboriculture Centre is fulfilled. All the gardens and plants present in the campuses of the University of Dhaka including the plant-beautification management of the famous Curzon Hall (established in 1904 AD) are routinely carried out by the Arboriculture Centre. The Department of Botany has also a botanical garden for carrying out small scale botanical and agricultural field-oriented researches. Similarly, the Department of Zoology under the Faculty of Biological Sciences has also a zoological garden for carrying out researches on animals.

Since its inception, the primary goal of this faculty was to offer degrees to the students at Bachelors with Honors (BSc/BS), Graduates (MSc/MS), and Post Graduate (MPhil, PhD) levels via different departments functioning under it. Besides, promotion of department-based research works together with intra- and interdepartmental and international collaborations have also been pioneered. Currently, departments belonging to this faculty have been conducting research on various fields of national interest, which have already earned recognition and fame both national and international levels. To explore the various study sectors of life sciences at the Faculty of Biological Sciences and to propel the learning forward with diversified coursework, exceptional faculty-led research labs and real-world experiences are the main goals.

Continuously expanding research interests and thoughts, through the Faculty of Biological Sciences provide its students with ideal opportunities mediated by graduate training programs. The programs of the faculty prepare students for graduate study in the diversified disciplines of biological sciences. The students are passionate to grow their academic and research interests through committed faculty research, excellent teaching and engaged student learnings. The research endeavors by different departments have established to sign out ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with national and overseas universities and research institutions. Out of the higher research centers of this faculty, two namely, Biotechnology Research Centre and the Centre for Advanced Research in Biological Sciences offer funds to carryout researches by the faculty members. The 21st Century is the century of biotechnology. During the last few centuries, the latest one has provided incredible benefits, product of the developments and advances in the biological sciences and biotechnology. Although human beings have exploited the more traditional biotechnology for centuries, it is only in the 20th century that scientists of biological sciences could discover and carry out, for instance in the therapeutic field, the massive production of antibiotics, enzymes, high yielding and stress resistance crop varieties that have resulted in an explosive increase in life expectancy of the inhabitants of the planet world which has doubled and even tripled in all countries.

The faculty regularly publishes one biennial journal named, ‘The Dhaka University Journal of Biological Sciences’. It also recognizes accreditation of the students, research scholars and teachers for their excellences in academic performances, education and research via a program ‘Dean’s Award’. Besides, re-treat programs are also organized outside campus for all the teachers of the faculty, where newly raised academic interests are discussed and adopted.

The historic Dhaka University Ordinance 1973 empowered the faculties to follow an election procedure for nominating and electing one Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences for a two years tenure. Via this procedure so far, the faculty had received 18 elected honorable deans. After the term of the founder dean Eminent Botanist, Professor Dr. AKM Nurul Islam was over (1975-1977), the next dean elect was Professor Dr. Aminul Islam from the then Department of Soil Science and this time he completed two consecutive terms (1977-1981). Professor Islam also competed for two other terms and won the deanship for the faculty (1983-1985, 1987-1989). Other honorable dean elects were Professor Dr. Abdul Mannan (Biochemistry), Professor Kazi Zaker Husain (Zoology), Professor Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed (Soil Science), Professor Dr. SMA Faiz (Soil Science), Professor Dr. Md. Shahadat Ali (Zoology), Professor Dr. Mohammad Sultan Hussain (Soil Science), Professor Dr. Sirajul Islam Khan (Microbiology), Professor Dr. AZM Nowsher Ali Khan (Botany), Professor Dr. MA Bashar (Zoology, also completed one more term later on), Professor Dr. Syed Saleheen Qadri (Biochemistry), Professor Dr. Md. Anwar Hossain (Biochemistry), Professor Dr. Shahid Akhtar Hossain (Soil Science), and Professor Dr. M Imdadul Hoque (Botany). Professor Haque completed four consecutive terms as Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences. In this faculty, Professor Dr. AQMB Karim (Soil Science), Professor Dr. Nurul Haque Khan (Biochemistry), Professor Dr. Mohammad Sultan Hussain (Soil Science; two terms), Professor Dr. Anwara Begum (Zoology), Professor Dr. Ishtiaq Mahmud (Biochemistry), and Professor Dr. MA Malek (Microbiology) have served the faculty as honorable Acting Dean at various times. Besides academic and research interests the faculty has successfully introduced modern curricula in all the departments via Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) by the World Bank. Procurement of high-quality laboratory equipments were also carried out for various departments of this faculty under the fund assistance of the HEQEP project. Recently, one ‘Green House’ has been established under the auspices of the Department of Botany, enhancing the door of high-quality research works under controlled environment. On a rotation basis, the faculty also conduct First Year BS Hons admission test and prepare final lists of the students, annually to be admitted in all science disciplines under the University of Dhaka.