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Nisanthei Gunasegaran: How I Pursued an MSc in Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at IMU

09 May 2023

My name is Nisanthei Gunasegaran, I graduated from IMU with a BSc (Hons) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 2020. I am currently employed as a Research and Development Chemist at Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) under the Nutrition Unit. My primary responsibilities at MPOB include research on nanotechnology, tocotrienols, palm phytonutrients, spray drying technologies, formulation technologies, and quality by design. I received my chemist licentiate from Institute Kimia Malaysia (IKM) in February 2023.


Within a year of starting my career, despite acquiring numerous analytical techniques as well as nutraceutical and pharmaceutical expertise, I was beginning to feel that I needed to learn more from what I was capable of. That is when I decided to pursue my MSc in Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at IMU, because of its flexibility in offering both part-time and full-time options over a duration of 2-6 years, allowing me to remain in my current employment while studying. Furthermore, their robust research platform, which is already well-known to the public, gave me a strong sense of confidence in making my decision, not to mention the Programme Director and lecturers, who are unquestionably helpful in facilitating their students in all aspects.


People frequently question me how I maintain a balance between my studies and work. It can be difficult for me to study while working, as my schedule can become chaotic at times. Ultimately, it depends on our mentality and how we prioritise the assigned duties. It is true that you will have less personal time while studying, but as I previously stated, this is dependent on our mindset and perspective. In my case, I view this as an excellent opportunity to develop my independence and better myself.


There will be times when, I too feel like giving up, but I always remind myself that there are no shortcuts to any destination that is worthwhile. I am extremely appreciative of how meticulously IMU plans a detailed schedule and a systematic workload sheet for each module. These have aided me significantly with my planning.

So far, my experience with the MAPC programme has been excellent. As a part-time student, I have complete freedom and flexibility in selecting any module each semester based on my personal schedule. Since the pandemic, IMU now provides the programme in conventional mode (face to face learning) and ODL mode (open and distance learning), from which students can choose. Furthermore, the lectures are always interactive, and the reading materials are in abundance and readily accessible.

I have acquired multiple skills and/or knowledge through the programme. In addition to the fundamental research skills, I would like to highlight the most memorable knowledge and experience I gained during the modern analytical techniques for quantitative analysis module, where I was introduced to High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method validation and full format protocol preparation.


During the course of completing this assignment, I was exposed to numerous guidelines and standards, including the ICH guidelines, ISO standards, GMP, FDA, etc. Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) was a bonus, as I am now working toward GMP certification for the MPOB Nanotechnology Pilot Plant. The MAPC programme enables me to learn various modules and lab practical sessions, the majority of which are directly applicable to what we routinely perform in analytical laboratories.


Since my job responsibilities already include extensive research on palm phytonutrients and nanotechnology, I wish to expand my research interests to include spray drying technologies, formulation development, and quality by design. Under the supervision of Dr Thiagarajan Madheswaran (IMU), A/Prof ChM Dr Lee Choy Sin (IMU), and Dr Fu Ju Yen (MPOB), I am currently working on optimising the spray drying process for the development of nano-tocotrienol dried powder. We also incorporated a quality-by-design (QbD) approach to enhance our formulation and spray drying conditions to better comprehend the powder’s characteristics.

My parents, Mr Gunasegaran and Ms Shamalah, deserve special recognition for the sacrifices they made to shape me into the person I am today.


To conclude, I would like to say create opportunities for yourself. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build  a door” – Milton Berle.

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