Professor Dr. Mohammad Kamrul Huda
An illustrious life cut short by the cold hands of death. No one was ready to accept such news.
But who knew he was ready to accept the invitation of Allah (SWT)! As a botanist he better knew the anatomy of plants. But who knew what the Providence was planning with the enigmatic twists and turns in his life's journey?
A scholar and researcher of Bangladesh, Dr. Mohammad Kamrul Huda, was a professor of botany at Chittagong University. He did his B.Sc. in botany with first class in 1991 from Chittagong University. He completed his Masters with first class (Distinction) in 1992. In 2001, he did his PhD from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. He won Gulmeher Gold Medal in 1992 for first division/class at all levels in his academic career as well as the highest marks in all departments of the science faculty of Chittagong University in Masters examinations. He started his career as a lecturer in botany department of Chittagong University in 1999. Under his supervision, more than 25 Masters level research, four MPhil and two PhD studies have been completed.
He conducted his research in various areas of orchid science with prestigious awards like DFID CICHE Award, Royal Society UK Scholarship, GES Post Doctoral Meet Scholarship. He was given a fellowship to conduct advanced research on phytochemical analysis of herbal plants from the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK in 2013 and OPCW in 2014. He also conducted research in natural chemistry at the Macquaie University, Australia in 2019.
He won the University Grants Commission (UGC) Award in 2008 for best publication in the biology stream. He contributed to The Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh (Orchid Part) of the Asiatic Society, a number of national and international publications related to biodiversity, genetic biology, phytochemistry and Orchid conservation. He also presented many scientific papers at various national and international conferences held in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal and the United Kingdom. Prof. Kamrul is a member of the Orchid Expert Group of IUCN SSC (Species Survival Commission) which is working to preserve Orchid species worldwide.
Dr. Huda was an ideal field-oriented researcher and teacher, not living in the ivory tower of bricks and mortar and confining himself only to classroom teaching. He built the country's largest orchidarium at his campus residence. His museum has about 193 indigenous orchid species. He was soon going to give good news to the countrymen about his research on orchid's bio-active compounds, anticancer compounds and herbal properties. Dr. Huda’s contribution could have benefitted the medicine industry of the country by adding the herbal and medicinal value of orchid to the said industry and advancing research in the anti-cancer properties of orchid. His relentless effort to save the extinct orchid species in the country has been recognized by leading mouthpiece of biodiversity movement, The Revelator.
The Revelator, an initiative of the Centre for Biological Diversity, mentions that Huda and his colleagues spent nearly a quarter of a century from 1996 to 2019 conducting field research throughout Bangladesh to catalog the country’s existing orchids and look for nearly extinct species. They even searched herbariums and private collections for species that could not be found any longer in the wilderness. On the basis of his research and experience, Dr. Huda also cautioned that many more orchid species are going to be extinct from Bangladesh very shortly. A book titled "Aesthetic Orchid of Bangladesh" written in Bengali by him was expected to be published at the Ekushey Boi Mela of 2021. But his untimely death frustrated all his dreams and potentials.
He was acceptable as a man among teachers irrespective of party affiliation. He knew how to reciprocate the envious gestures and attitudes of people with soft exchanges of words. He suffered a massive heart attack around 11pm on 5 February and breathed his last within 10 minutes defying all efforts to save his life by near and dear ones. He left the world at the prime of his life, at 51. He had much more potentials to contribute to the nation and the society. The untimely death of a first-rated researcher and educationist is no doubt an irreparable loss. May Allah give his soul eternal peace and his family members patience to bear the loss.
The writer is working as Associate Professor and Head, Department of English, BGC Trust University Bangladesh, Chattogram.