Outstanding Scholastic Achievement



Dato' Ir Dr Zaini's Impact on Malaysia’s Journey Towards a Green Horizon
At 43 years old, Profesor Dato' Ir Dr Zaini is the country’s youngest Vice Chancellor — a position he has held since 2008 at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. 

Professor Dato' Ir Dr Zaini's research and active involvement in diverse environmental projects related to water supply, sewage, river rehabilitation, and industrial ecology yield substantial advantages for both the people of Malaysia and the global community. 


Answering the call of the river
Born on March 3rd, 1965, in Negeri Sembilan, Professor Dr Zaini’s early life, shaped by independence, was spent in a student hostel for the children of army personnel in Melaka. 

As a child, Professor Dr Zaini did not have any ambitions to become a scientist. “I was interested in arts at school, and I used to paint and won art competitions. I became a chemical engineer by accident. Scholarships were given out for subjects like medicine and engineering, so I chose chemical engineering,” he says. 

During his student years, residing near numerous rivers endowed the water expert with an early awareness of water quality issues, a commitment that has since become the central purpose of his life. His childhood surroundings is what inspired him to branch out into environmental engineering after graduating in chemical engineering.  


After obtaining a degree in chemical engineering, he transitioned to environmental engineering, earning a Master of Science (Environmental Engineering) at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, where he received an award for the best project in his MSc dissertation.  

Professor Dr Zaini’s scholastic achievements and thought leadership in water matters led to his recognition locally and internationally.

A man of many roles
Professor Dr Zaini, Chairman of the Environmental Quality Council, Malaysia, and Commissioner of the National Commission on Water Services, has been actively involved in water associations. 

He served as Vice President of the International Water Association (IWA) from 2004- 2006, the Deputy President of the Malaysia Water Association, Fellow to the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK) and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, and Senior Advisor to the Prince Khalid bin Sultan Chair on Water Research at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. 

Acknowledged for outstanding scientific research, Professor Dr Zaini received the Malaysia Water Award 2004 (Research), the Outstanding Young Malaysian Award (Academic leadership) in 2004, and the Gold Medal from the Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Am (IPTA) Expo on Research & Development in 2005.  


Turning waste into a resource
Professor Zaini's innovative approach challenges conventional wisdom, aiming to redefine wastewater as a resource rather than waste.  

His focus on advancing breakthrough research in fundamental and applied areas, particularly in water and wastewater engineering, integrated ecosystem management, and corporate environmental strategy, reflects his commitment to the country's progress. 

Professor Dr Zaini's contributions in environmental initiatives, academic research, and internationally recognised expertise in water-related matters significantly benefit Malaysia and the world. 


The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile. 

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