Prof. Ashraf, Vice Chancellor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, did his PhD from the University of Liverpool, UK in 1986. Soon after completing his PhD work there, he was offered a post-doctoral position for a period of 8 months. From his PhD and postdoctoral work, he was able to publish more than 20 papers in very high quality journals in plant sciences including New Phytologist. In 1993, he earned US Fulbright Award and proceeded to University of Arizona Tucson (USA) for postdoctoral work. Owing to his considerable scientific attainment in the field of “Improvement of stress tolerance in plants” he has been recently awarded D.Sc by the University of Liverpool UK, which is really a sound milestone in the career of Prof. Ashraf and hence an international recognition of his excellent work on stress tolerance. 
The quality of research work can be assessed not only from publication of the work undertaken in high quality journals (my journal impact factor is now over 810), but also from the citation index. My citations are now considerably high (over 21400 with h-index 62 according to Web of Knowledge, and over 46000 citations according to Googles My Citations; h-index 99; i10-index 361) as my research work has been continuously cited every year by many workers since 1986, when I had my first publication.
    Prof. Ashraf, a scholar from the developing world, started his research career in 1983 when he got admission to the Department of Botany of the University of Liverpool (U.K) to work on a project entitled "Improvement of salinity tolerance in some forage crops." This project was considered for execution as an alternative response to the promotion of various reclamative and curative measures developed by soil scientists which are very expensive in terms of money, labour, and energy, and in addition do not provide a permanent solution of the problem. Therefore, they cannot be contemplated particularly in developing countries. The potential of the other alternative, known as the biotic approach, gained considerable ground at that time because of its being very economical and efficient means of overcoming the salinity problem. However, the evidence at that time was very limited.
For the successful achievement of his research objective, Dr. Ashraf devised a number of new techniques for screening large numbers of individuals (20,000   30,000) at high selection pressure after just 2 3 weeks growth, because the greater the number of genotypes screened, the greater would be the possibility of selecting some highly salt tolerant individuals. The selection lines of various crops such as canola, cotton, maize, pearl millet, different pulse crops, different forage grasses, oil-seed crops, developed so far are highly salt tolerant in comparison with their respective base populations, and most thrived well on salt affected soils after substantial amendments. It is imperative to note that a selection line of spring wheat “S24” (USDA-ARS National Centre for Genetic Resources Preservation PI No. 652453; Plant Genetic Resource Institute, National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad, Pakistan Acc-22864; recently published in Journal of Plant Registration USA) developed by Dr. Ashraf after rigorous selection procedure using physiological, molecular and genetic means, is currently being used as a promising salt tolerant line at different national and international institutions. This line was also tested by a group of scientists at CIMMYT, Mexico, and it was considered as a salt tolerant check. The promising characteristic of this salt tolerant cultivar is that it maintains very high K/Na ratio under saline regimes, a characteristic which has been considered one of the most potential selection criteria of salt tolerance in wheat by a number of workers. This cultivar also showed enhanced activity of H+-ATPase under saline conditions. Dr. Ashraf has also actively participated and guided a group of scientists who have developed a high yielding variety “Ramzan’ of mungbean in 2006 and a chickpea variety “Nifa-2005 in 2005 (Pak J Bot 38:301-310; Pak J Bot 39(1): 93-102). Dr. Ashraf’s strategy of overcoming the soil salinity menace is being widely used in most of the developing countries to exploit the derelict salt affected soils. Thus, his research has a considerable social and economic impact on the agriculture sector of these countries. Recently Dr. Ashraf as a team member has got developed and got registered a high yielding Cotton variety MNH-988 by the Government of Pakistan. This variety is being cultivated on a large area in the Punjab Province of the country.
Knowledge of the physiological mechanism of salt tolerance of a species is crucial in drawing parallels between growth and various physiological/biochemical variables. Most scientists concerned with salinity tolerance of plants had a general view regarding the mechanism of salt tolerance, namely tolerant plants generally exclude toxic ions from their shoots when exposed to saline conditions. In view of massive data gathered from several species Dr. Ashraf and his co-workers were able to show that the salt exclusion hypothesis cannot be generalized. Mechanism appears to depend on the species/lines under test. Some salt tolerant species include toxic ions in their shoots, while others do not. Generalization of any ion exclusion mechanism was therefore ruled out. While uncovering the mechanism of tolerance to stress-induced oxidative stress at the molecular level his work has shown that the expression of the activities of some key enzymes (superoxide dismutase, peroxidase, catalase, glutathione reductase etc.) and levels of non-enzymatic antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, phenolics, carotenoids and tocopherols, of oxidative stress metabolism also depend on the type of species, cultivar and the intensity of the selection pressure. In addition, Dr. Ashraf’s team has characterized oil composition (fatty acid profile, tocopherols, phenolics, flavonoids, carotenoids, DPPH activity, etc.) of a variety of potential oil-seed crops exposed to stressful environments.   
One of the important aspects of Dr. Ashraf's work is that he has shown after a number of studies that degree of salt tolerance varies with the change in growth stage of a plant species. He, therefore, recommended that before carrying out mass screening at one particular stage, one should ensure that there is positive correlation between the tolerances of various growth stages. If a species possesses a positive correlation between different growth stages, the selection at any stage would be feasible, economical, and successful. If a species lacks a positive relationship between different growth stages, then selection may become a tedious process.
Working with some natural aerohalophytes, Dr. Ashraf has shown for the first time that the mechanism of tolerance to rooting medium salinity and that of tolerance to sea spray is different and they have no interdependence. This discovery was highlighted by some other scientists in the New Scientist.
Another approach for improving stress tolerance in crops, i.e., exogenous application of various osmoprotectants (glycine betaine, proline and trehalose) plant growth regulators (auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, polyamines, brassinosteroids, salicylic acid, ascorbic acid, etc.) and essential mineral nutrients, has also been employed by Dr. Ashraf as a shot-gun approach as compared to other known strategies. A number of publications resulted from this work have categorically shown that substantial improvement in stress tolerance can be achieved in different crops. Currently, Dr. Ashraf focuses on various molecular biology techniques for the identification, isolation and characterization of stress related genes and low molecular weight proteins such as SSR, RAPD (using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Northern/Western blotting, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis for proteins and Agarose gel electrophoresis for DNA, etc. 
Dr. Ashraf’s contribution in human resource development has been remarkable. He has produced 74 PhD students (34 as a major supervisor + 40 as a co-supervisor or committee member) in addition to having produced over 182 M.Sc and 96 M.Phil graduates.
Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, Islamabad (Ministry of Science and Technology) again published a directory of the Productive Scientists of Pakistan in 2010. Dr. Ashraf has earned First position in the disciplines of Agriculture and Biological sciences securing over 3500 points and 2nd position among all national scientists from various disciplines. He was inducted as a member of editorial boards of three prestigious foreign journals Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment (Finland), BMC Plant Biology, and Biological Agriculture & Horticulture (UK). He has recently earned 26th Khwarizmi Award (2012) as well as a Medal from FAO on the basis of his excellent research in Plant Stress Physiology and Molecular Biology. He has been also awarded the status of HONORARY PROFESSOR by the Lanzhou University China. He was selected as an Honorary scientist by The Rural Development Administration (RDA) of the Republic of South Korea for a period of three years (2005 to 2008). He was bestowed with the title of HEC Distinguished National Professor by the Higher Education Commission in 2005. Dr. Ashraf has earned First Position in Biosciences in the COMSTECH ranking of scientists and engineers of all OIC countries done two years ago. Recently, Dr. Ashraf has again secured First Position by securing 5200 points in Biological Sciences and overall Second position according to a directory “Productive Scientists of Pakistan 2010-11” by the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Pakistan. He has recently earned Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013, by the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan and Hilal-e-Imtiaz, 2016 by Government of Pakistan on the basis of his excellent research in Plant Stress Physiology and Molecular Biology. Dr. Ashraf’s contribution to Science and Technology within Pakistan has been tremendous which could be gauged from his active participation in a number of national research and academic organizations/societies. Furthermore, his contribution in science and technology at the international level is equally remarkable which is evident from his current involvement in academic and research pursuits in different countries including USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and China. For example, He is currently serving as a Visiting Professor in Saudi Arabia, two institutions in China, and Thailand. He has also been appointed as a Scientific Advisor for the Green Technology Program, Rural Development Administration, Government of the Republic of Korea for a period of 3 years from January 2010 to Dec. 2012.