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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

BEACON ‫املنـارة‬ at Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

December 2013 / Muharam 1435 Volume 4, Issue No. 4


2013 MS and PhD degree recipients at KAUST’s Fourth Commencement Ceremony

Commencement Dean of Academic Affairs Prof. Brian Moran marshals in the PhD candidates to the ceremony. HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Chairman of the KAUST Board of Trustees

Commencement Guest Speaker Dr. Robert H. Grubbs

Prof. Jean Fréchet, Vice President of Research, leads in KAUST faculty.

Student Speaker Hassan Al-Ismail

On December 14 against the backdrop of the setting sun on the Red Sea, President Jean-Lou Chameau, at the University’s Discovery Walk to honor the 114 candidates soon to receive their MS and PhD degrees at KAUST’s Fourth Commencement Ceremony. University Marshal Prof. James Calvin, Vice President of Academic Affairs, extended a warm welcome to the assemblage. HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, inaugurated Dr. Chameau as the University’s new President, saying, “President Chameau’s track record as a researcher, educator, and distinguished academic leader make him well-qualified to lead the next phase of KAUST’s development. He will continue to build upon excellence in education and research. His presence on campus, around the Kingdom, and among global audiences is already bolstering our long-term vision for KAUST.”

Dean Pierre Magistretti and President Jean-Lou Chameau with a BESE MS degree recipient

PhD candidates

members of the KAUST Board of Trustees, leadership, faculty, staff, proud families, and friends gathered

‫جامعة امللك عبداهلل حتتفل بتخريج الدفعة الرابعة من‬ ‫طلبة املاجستري والدكتوراه‬

‫ لدرجتي الماجستير والدكتوراه في جامعة الملك عبد اهلل للعلوم والتقنية‬2013 ‫تسلم خريجو دفعة‬ ‫ كما اقيمت‬.‫درجاتهم األكاديمية في حفل التخرج الذي أقيم أخيرًا في ساحة االكتشاف في مقر الجامعة‬ ‫مراسم التعيين الرسمي لرئيس الجامعة الجديد الدكتور جان ــ لو شامو من قبل معالي وزير البترول‬ .‫ رئيس مجلس األمناء في الجامعة‬،‫والثروة المعدنية المهندس علي بن إبراهيم النعيمي‬ ‫ بعد أن ترك منصبه كرئيس‬2013 ‫وانضم الدكتور شامو إلى جامعة الملك عبداهلل في شهر يوليو من عام‬ .‫لمعهد كاليفورنيا للتقنية في الواليات المتحدة األمريكية‬ 2 ‫تتمه صفحة‬

Commencement | Continued on p2


News 1-4

KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau


Research 6-7

Community 8



December 2013

The Beacon

This issue celebrates the awarding of degrees to 18 PhD and 96 MS candidates and the inauguration of

Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier. There is research news and an introduction to Prof. Karl Leo, the

Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau as University President by HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees

newly appointed Director of the Solar and Photovoltaic Research Center. A WEP Preview is provided

at KAUST’s Fourth Commencement Ceremony. There is news of several forums, an SRSI Gala and a

so that you may anticipate the exciting and instructive events that will take place in January. Finally,

Seed Fund Gala. You will find a synopsis of the success of the KAUST Exhibit at IBTIKAR in Riyadh,

there are accolades, intros to colleagues at KAUST, and wonderful photos of the TKS musical to end the

which was visited by many dignitaries. Most prominent of all was the visit of HRH Prince Muqrin Bin

calendar year on a “high note.” 

—THE BEACON Editorial

The Beacon, Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2013. Published by The Communications Department, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia. Contact Salah Sindi, or Michelle D'Antoni © King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Printed on partially recycled paper.

Commencement | Continued from p1 Saudi Aramco, received a MS in Earth Sciences and Engineering with a specialization in Geophysics at the ceremony. While at KAUST, he was president of the Graduate Student Council and president of the student chapter of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. During his address, Al-Ismail quoted Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech: “Today is as much about the future as it is about the past.” He set up a dream sequence in his talk where he envisioned KAUST in 2038 with alumni as Nobel Laureates and the University as the world’s top research university for the second consecutive year. A dream, perhaps, but he thinks it will be reality. “We have all seen CEMSE MS degree candidates

[KAUST] as a challenge, and we all came here because we dared to except this challenge: the challenge of transformation, the challenge of realizing a dream, King Abdullah’s dream, a dream of a great man who saw no limit to what he could do to put his country in the fast

“I am honored and privileged to receive your confidence,” Dr.

lane to progress,” he said.

Chameau remarked, “and also humbled by the responsibility you

Eighteen students were hooded and awarded their doctoral degrees:

entrust to me as the President of King Abdullah University of Science

four women and 14 men. The new PhDs originate from 13 different

and Technology.”

countries on five continents. May Majed Al-Qurashi, who received

Addressing the graduates, Dr. Chameau said, “Ultimately, the

her degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering, is the first Saudi

greatness of KAUST and its contributions to the world and society

PhD graduate of KAUST. Al-Qurashi is a founding student and was

will be through you, our graduates. If we educate students and engage

the student speaker at the first KAUST Commencement in 2010.

them in an environment that stresses excellence, curiosity, invention,

Four of the new PhDs will continue with their research at KAUST as

integrity, and a passion for doing things that matter, we will be a

postdoctoral fellows. Two will begin work in-Kingdom, one at DOW

great university and serve society well.”

Chemical and one at SABIC, both as research scientists. Three others

Guest speaker Dr. Robert H. Grubbs, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins

will be postdoctoral fellows at other universities – the University

Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology and 2005

of Edinburgh, UK; Stanford University, US; and the University of

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, said, “Most universities take generations

Manitoba, Canada. The others are still considering their options.

to develop and grow – this institution has made amazing strides

Ninety-six Master of Science (MS) candidates, hailing from 24

toward the development of a world class research facilities and

countries, were then honored; 63 men and 33 women. Forty-

laboratories in four short years. That is a short time to turn a dream

three percent of the MS recipients were Saudi, and of these, 61%

to a reality.”

were women.

He implored the graduates to use their knowledge to further

Many of the MS recipients will continue at KAUST for their

sustainability. He quoted Carl Sagan saying: “Anything else you

PhDs. Others will join KAUST industry partners – Saudi Aramco,

are interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air

SABIC and DOW Chemical – in support of KAUST’s economic

or drink the water…” He commented that “most of your programs

development mission. Still others will pursue a higher degree at

[at KAUST] are designed to develop sustainable technologies and

different universities.

to provide the pathway to new step-change inventions…Do good

President Chameau closed the ceremony, saying to the graduates,

science! Strive to do interesting and creative and responsible science

“I encourage you to be… a group who can change the world. Being

to the highest standards because you are fascinated by the prospect of

smart, creative, and highly educated is a blessing. Use this blessing

discovery. Step-change typically comes from a totally new approach

to have an impact, make a difference, do things that matter, and

to a problem, not a tweak of an old technology.”

do them with passion. You owe it to yourself, to your families, to

Hassan Al-Ismail represented the Class of 2013 as the Commencement student speaker. Al-Ismail, sponsored to KAUST by

KAUST, and to the world. The Kingdom and the world need graduates like you – now more than ever.” 

Mariam Sahal Awlia and her family celebrate her upcoming graduation

:‫* تتمة الصفحة األولى‬ ‫ "اآلن نستطيع القول‬:‫ رئيس مجلس األمناء‬،‫وقال معالي الوزير علي النعيمي‬ ‫ونعلن بمنتهى الثقة أن جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية بدأت تؤتي ثمارها‬ ‫كما خطط ورسم لها خادم الحرمين الشريفين حفظه اهلل في رؤيته التأسيسية‬ ‫ وستكون هذه الجامعة إضافة حقيقية وقوية‬،‫الملهمة لبيت الحكمة الجديد‬ ‫لدعم البحث العلمي في المملكة وتمكينه من اإلسهام في بناء البلد وتنميته‬ ‫ أعوام فقط أصبحت جامعة الملك عبداهلل‬5 ‫ " خالل‬:‫ وأضاف‬.."‫المستدامة‬ ‫للعلوم والتقنية مركزًا فريدًا للتعليم واالكتشاف واالبتكار وريادة األعمال في‬ ‫ال عن تخريجها ألجيال وعقول مبدعة سيكون لها أثرها وبصمتها‬ ً ‫ فض‬،‫المملكة‬ ‫ انها تسير في خطى ثابتة نحو‬."‫الواضحة في المملكة والمنطقة والعالم أجمع‬ .‫تحقيق حلم خادم الحرمين وخدمة البشرية جمعاء‬ ‫لو شامو عن عميق شكره وتقديره على الثقة‬-‫وأعرب رئيس الجامعة الجديد جان‬ .‫الكريمة في شرف تولي مسؤولية قيادة جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية‬ ‫" من خاللكم تتجلى عظمة جامعة الملك‬: 2013 ‫وقال في كلمته لخريجي دفعة‬ ‫ فعندما نثقف الطلبة ونشركهم في‬.‫عبداهلل ومساهماتها في المجتمع والعالم‬ ،‫ والشغف لصنع التغيير‬،‫ والنزاهة‬،‫ واالختراع‬،‫ والفضول‬،‫بيئة تشجع على التميز‬ ."‫فإننا بذلك نكون جامعة عظيمة تخدم المجتمع على أكمل وجه‬ ‫ أستاذ في الكيمياء‬،‫والقى كلمة التخرج لهذا العام البروفسور روبرت غرابز‬ 2005 ‫من معهد كاليفورنيا للتقنية والحاصل على جائزة نوبل في الكيمياء عام‬ ‫ " لم‬: ‫حيث شارك الحضور بذكرياته عن افتتاح جامعة الملك عبداهلل بقوله‬ ‫ لقد خطت‬.‫يمض سوى بضع سنوات فقط منذ أن حضرت افتتاح هذه الجامعة‬ ‫جامعة الملك عبداهلل خطوات مذهلة تجاه تطوير مرافق أبحاثها ومختبراتها‬ ‫لتكون بهذا المستوى العالمي في أربع سنوات فقط وهي فترة قصيرة جدًا اذا ما‬ ‫ لكن جامعة‬.‫أخذنا في االعتبار أن معظم الجامعات تحتاج ألجيال لتتطور وتنمو‬ .‫الملك عبداهلل نجحت في تحويل الحلم إلى واقع مدهش‬ ‫ الطالب السعودي حسن اإلسماعيل طالب‬2013 ‫والقى كلمة خريجي دفعة‬ ‫درجة الماجستير بقسم هندسة وعلوم االرض تخصص جيوفيزياء ورئيس‬ ‫مجلس طلبة الدراسات العليا الذي درس في جامعة الملك عبداهلل برعاية‬ :‫ "أتينا جميعًا إلى هنا لنواجه هذا التحدي‬:‫ اإلسماعيل قال‬.‫أرامكو السعودية‬ ‫ هذا الرجل العظيم‬،‫ حلم الملك عبد اهلل‬- ‫ تحدي تحقيق الحلم‬،‫تحدي التحول‬ ." ‫الذي أحب أن يرى بالده تسير في خطى ثابته وسريعة نحو التقدم واإلزهار‬ ‫ دولة في‬13 ‫ طالبًا قدموا من‬18 ‫وتم أثناء االحتفال منح درجة الدكتوراه إلى‬ ‫خمس قارات ويمثلون الجيل الثاني من خريجي درجة الدكتوراه في جامعة‬ ‫ وكان منهم ستة خريجين حصلوا على درجة‬.‫الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية‬ ‫الماجستير من جامعة الملك عبداهلل خالل حفل تخريج أول دفعة لها عام‬ ‫ أول خريج‬،‫ ومن بين هؤالء الستة الطالبة مي ماجد صالح القرشي‬.2010 .‫سعودي بدرجة الدكتوراه في جامعة الملك عبداهلل‬ ‫ دولة كجزء‬22 ‫ طالبًا من حملة درجة الماجستير من‬96 ‫كما تم ايضا تكريم‬ ‫ ويرغب‬.‫ منهم‬43% ‫ ويمثل الطلبة السعوديون نسبة‬.2013 ‫من دفعة خريجي‬ ‫العديد منهم مواصلة دراستهم العليا في جامعة الملك عبداهلل للحصول‬ ‫على درجة الدكتوراه كما سينضم بعض منهم إلى شركاء الجامعة في مجال‬ ‫ وشركة داو للكيماويات‬،‫ وشركة سابك‬،‫الصناعة كشركة أرامكو السعودية‬ ‫دعمًا منهم لمهمة جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية التي من أهدافها‬  .‫الرئيسية تحويل اقتصاد المملكة العربية السعودية إلى االقتصاد المعرفي‬

Commencement Dinner On the beautiful evening of Dec. 12, President Chameau, KAUST Leadership, faculty and staff, graduates, their families, and invited guests celebrated commencement on Drummers entertained the audience.

the Al-Marsa Green, overlooking the Red Sea. Tables decorated with Arab coffee pots and colorful linens provided the festive atmosphere for listening to an amplified oud player, watching sword dances, and listening to Saudi singers and drummers while enjoying an Arab feast served buffet style. Masters of ceremony and Graduate Student Council Members Saba Nathif and Hjörtur Jónasson kept up a snappy repartee entertaining guests. Damian San Roman Alerigi and Mariam Sahal Awlia, also Council members, addressed the graduates wishing them well. President Chameau in his address hoped students would enjoy the two-days of celebrations, but while doing so, reflect on what they learned at KAUST and the relationships they have made. He congratulated them on their achievements and asked that whatever they decide to do, to do it well and with

The stage backdrop and the decorations added to the festive atmosphere of the celebratory dinner.

passion. “You owe it to your family, KAUST, and the Kingdom to do important Henna specialists created their art on ladies’ hands.

things,” he said in conclusion. After dinner, guests wandered through a mini-souk where there were henna artists, falconers and their birds, a basket weaver, and other traditional arts and crafts. 


December 2013


Academic Partner KAUST Organizes Jeddah Brain Forum The Brain Forum, an event bringing together some of the world’s most prominent thinkers and researchers in the field of brain science, was held in Jeddah December 3-4. The event was the first of its kind in the Middle East region. KAUST acted as an academic partner and organizer of the event, along with King Abdulaziz University (KAU), the Saudi Society of Neurology, the Saudi W Science Initiative (headed by Dr. Walid Al-Juffali), and NeuroPro AG Switzerland. The forum enabled participants to discuss and share their thoughts on the latest advances in neuroscience and combatting the growing worldwide epidemic of neurological disorders. The event follows an initiative of the Saudi government to address national health priorities. Stated Dr. Al-Juffali: “The main aim of the Brain Forum [was] to convey and transfer the latest technology in relation to brain disorders in the Kingdom as well as to raise awareness and educate the population regarding these diseases…[This] offer[ed] an interconnectivity with the world’s top inspirational thinkers, pioneers in the field of brain research, personalized healthcare, [and] scientists, and patients.”

Members of the Brain Forum enjoy their December 2 visit to the KAUST campus

KAUST Professor Pierre Magistretti, Dean of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering, was a panelist speaker for the sessions on brain research. He gave a presentation entitled “Food for Thought – A Neuroenergetic Perspective on Brain Function.” In his presentation, Prof. Magistretti

different Core Laboratories, including the KAUST Visualization Core Lab. “The visitors were most

discussed how the brain regulates energy flow in relation to neuronal activity and how this process is

impressed with all KAUST has to offer,” said Syed Bashir from University Development, who assisted

at the origin of the signals detected by functional brain imaging techniques.

in organizing the visit.

He also outlined future avenues for research covering new technologies in this area, including

“The Brain Forum was a unique event,” stated Prof. Magistretti. “It was a scientific meeting, but at

nanotechnologies and new types of sensors that could be used to explore brain function with high

the same time it was also an interesting outreach effort to key players in the field of brain science in

spatial and temporal resolution. “Nanotechnology applied to neuroscience is something we would like

general in the Kingdom.”

to develop at KAUST, leveraging on the remarkable facilities and competencies that are on campus to solve some of the open questions in neuroscience,” Prof. Magistretti said. KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau, Dr. Abdullah Almojel, Vice President of University Development,

Dr. Al-Juffali noted that he believes events like the Brain Forum will contribute to the improvement of medical technology and research in the Kingdom, as well as supporting the government’s scientific and medical efforts.

and KAUST Professor Xin Gao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, also attended the forum. Prof.

“The forum…falls under the tenets and guidelines of the W Science Initiative, which was launched to

Gao acted as a panelist during a discussion about big data entitled “Big Data: Advances, Challenges,

support outstanding scientific projects,” said Dr. Al-Juffali. “It…also facilitates collaborations among

and Opportunities in Neuroscience and Personalized Medicine.”

leading scientists working at the interfaces of different scientific disciplines to address unmet medical

Members of the Brain Forum visited KAUST on December 2, taking a tour of the campus and visiting

SRSI Gala for Mentors

Vice President of Saudi Initiatives Najah Ashry thanks SRSI mentors for their participation in the program last summer.

The Saudi Research Science Institute

scientists served as mentors along with 58

their posters and later completed and

(SRSI) recently hosted a gala reception to

assistant mentors.

presented their research papers.

acknowledge the many members of the

Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President for Saudi

At the gala, KAUST President Jean-Lou

KAUST academic community who served

Initiatives, commented, “Without the generous

Chameau also expressed his thanks for the

as mentors and assistant mentors during

support of the entire KAUST community,

support of the mentors and encouraged

the 2013 SRSI. These men and women

these young scholars’ dreams of experiencing

all to take an interest in inspiring the

were recognized for their significant

and exploring research could not be realized.”

next generation.

and numerous contributions to the

Guests had the opportunity to observe

The next SRSI program will be from June

development of the young Saudi scholars

some of the students’ results through an

10 – July 25, 2014. Faculty and research

who participated in the summer 2013

exhibit of the student research posters,

scientists interested in learning more about

program. Over the six-week institute,

with several mentors commenting on the

serving as mentors are encouraged to

nine professors, four associate professors,

academic and scientific growth of each

contact Mariam Fouad in Saudi Initiatives at

20 assistant professors, and two research

student between the time they produced 

KAUST Participates in Ninth Saudi Water and Power Forum The Ninth Saudi Water and Power Forum opened

needs and improve the quality of personalized healthcare.” 

to hand out brochures on the processes.

Dec. 1 bringing together top Saudi officials,

WDRC in conjunction with Economic

industry professionals and experts, manufacturers,

Development also presented a pre-forum session

contractors, and suppliers to try to provide answers

entitled “Recent Trends in Low-Energy and

to the challenge of maintaining a sustainable

Renewable Energy-Driven Desalination,” which

supply of water and power in the Kingdom in

was very well received. Presenters spoke about

the future. The Minister of Water and Electricity

renewable energy resources in the Kingdom,

HE Abdullah Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Hussayen

low energy desalination technologies, and

attended the opening ceremony and gave the

renewable energy-driven desalination. Speakers

keynote address.

included Amin Al-Shibani, Vice President of

Over 100 companies exhibited during the

Economic Development; WDRC Director Gary

three-day meeting, including KAUST. The KAUST

Amy; Professors Thomas Missimer, Kim Choon

booth designed by the Water Desalination and

Ng, and Noreddine Ghaffour; Imad Feghali of

Reuse Research Center (WDRC) students and

CH2M-Olyan; Dr. Maher Alodan of KA-CARE;

personnel with Economic Development backing

and Dr. Nabil Nada of ACWA-Power. Over 200

featured low energy desalination projects,

delegates attended.

including two that have funding from the Seed

For the fourth year Economic Development

Fund. PhD students and postdocs were on hand

and WDRC sponsored a visit to KAUST for 30

in the booth to speak with visitors and explain

forum delegates. The group toured the WDRC

the projects – Forward Osmosis and Multistage

and the Advanced Membranes and Porous

Membrane Distillation – and their posters and

Materials Laboratories.

‫جامعة امللك عبداهلل تشارك يف املنتدى السعودي‬ ‫التاسع للمياه والطاقة‬ ‫الدكتوراه بالتحدث مع الزائرين وشرح المشاريع‬ .‫المتعلقة بتحلية المياه‬ ‫كما قدم مركز أبحاث تحلية واعادة استخدام‬ ‫المياه بالتعاون مع قسم التنمية االقتصادية بجامعة‬ ‫الملك عبداهلل جلسة افتتاحية بعنوان (االتجاهات‬ )‫الحديثة في تحلية المياه بطاقة منخفضة ومتجددة‬ 200 ‫والقت استحسان الحضور الذين بلغوا أكثر من‬ ‫ وتحدث المحاضرين حول الموارد المتجددة‬.ً‫مندوبا‬ ‫ وتقنيات تحلية المياه بطاقة‬،‫للطاقة في المملكة‬ ‫ وشملت‬.‫ وتحلية المياه بطاقة متجددة‬،‫منخفضة‬ ‫ نائب الرئيس‬،‫قائمة المتحدثين أمين الشيباني‬ ‫للتنمية االقتصادية؛ ومدير مركز أبحاث تحلية و‬ ‫إعادة استخدام المياه غاري ايمي؛ البروفسور توماس‬ ‫ نورالدين غفور؛ عماد‬،‫ كيم تشون نغ‬،‫ميسيمير‬ .‫ والدكتور نبيل ندى‬،‫الدكتور ماهر العودان‬، ‫فغالي‬ ‫وقام قسمي التنمية االقتصادية ومركز أبحاث‬ ‫تحلية واعادة استخدام المياه للسنة الرابعة على‬ 30‫التوالي برعاية زيارة لجامعة الملك عبداهلل لــ‬ ‫ و قاموا بجولة لمركز أبحاث‬.‫مندوبا من المنتدى‬ ‫تحلية واعادة استخدام المياه ومركز األغشية‬ .‫المتطورة والمواد المسامية‬

‫افتتح أخيرا أعمال المنتدى السعودي التاسع‬ ‫ ويمثل هذا‬،‫للمياه والطاقة في مدينة جدة‬ ‫المنتدى منبر ًا للتواصل بين المسؤولين ورواد‬ ‫ كما يجمع‬،‫صناعة المياه والطاقة في السعودية‬ ‫الجهات المعنية في المملكة والعالم الكتساب‬ ‫المعارف وتبادل الخبرات والشراكات ومناقشة‬ ‫أهم قضايا المستقبل ومشاكل المياه والكهرباء‬ .‫والطاقة بالسعودية وتحقيق التنمية المستدامة‬ ‫وحضر المنتدى معالي وزير المياه والكهرباء‬ ‫المهندس عبداهلل بن عبدالرحمن الحصين والقى‬ .‫كلمته االفتتاحية‬ ‫وشارك في المنتدى الذي استمرت أعماله لمدة‬ ‫ أكثر‬،‫ثالثة أيام ابتداء من األول من ديسمبر‬ ‫ شركة وكانت جامعة الملك عبداهلل‬100 ‫من‬ ‫للعلوم والتقنية قد شاركت بحضور جيد من‬ ‫خالل جناحها المميز الذي صممه طالب مركز‬ ‫أبحاث تحلية واعادة استخدام المياه وموظفون‬ ‫من قسم التنمية االقتصادية وتم عرض مشاريع‬ ‫لتحلية المياه ذات استهالك منخفض للطاقة ومن‬ ‫بينها اثنان من مشاريع صندوق التمويل التأسيسي‬ ‫ كما قام طلبة الدكتوراه و زمالء ما بعد‬.‫بالجامعة‬



December 2013

The Beacon

Seed Fund Gala: 2013 Fall Round Winners Announced Quantum Dots). Team members: Jun Pan, Ala’a

The KAUST Seed Fund Team recently held a gala lunch and award ceremony to unveil the four winning teams from the 2013 Seed Fund Fall

El-Ballouli, Osman Bakr, Edward Sargent ŸŸ ROFix (Reverse Osmosis Fouling Index). Team members: Noreddine Ghaffour,

Round. During his opening remarks, Vice President

Rinaldi Rachman, Mohanned Al Ghamdi

of Economic Development Amin M. Al-Shibani, explained that KAUST was created “with the

ŸŸ EFD (Early Fouling Detection for Membrane

vision to accelerate technology-based economic

Systems). Team members: Szilard Bucs,

development.” He highlighted the fact that the

Sacco Hekkert, Marc Staal

The winning Seed Fund gala teams with the keynote speaker, Barig Siraj, and the Economic Development team.

Seed Fund has been a successful mechanism to

Presenting Falcon Viz, Neil Smith described the

achieve this goal since, within its first six rounds,

project as a “new 3D aerial scanning solution for

21 projects were funded, resulting in the creation of

documentation and inspection.” This technology

The other two projects tackle the common

on the market to monitor and characterize the

three companies along with 15 active jobs.

market opportunities in many industrial areas such

Systems) project indicated that the novelty of

as LED displays and solar cells.

their innovation is that their device is the first

can be particularly useful for government

issue of water desalination plant performance.

fouling as it occurs within the system. The team

Further emphasizing this success, the event’s

organizations and private companies involved in

The challenge facing plant operators is the poor

believes that their fouling monitoring device

keynote speaker, Barig Siraj, delivered a talk to the

city planning, cultural heritage site management

performance of membranes caused by seawater

can increase the membrane lifetime by twenty

overflowing crowd of over 200 attendants about

and preservation, construction, and real estate.

fouling. This results in frequent shutdowns and the

percent and decrease the chemical costs by

“Creating Healthy Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in

Such stakeholders have a common need to be

costly use of chemicals to clean the membranes.

around thirty percent.

Saudi Arabia.” Siraj said: “In my opinion, KAUST

able to physically see the layouts and structures

The solution proposed by the ROFix project

The Seed Fund program is a product development

is leading in the commercialization of ideas in the

of their assets in real-time. Integrating multi-rotor

is to install a device between the desalination

funding mechanism that can help move promising

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

mini-copters, this new system captures 3D models

plant and the seawater’s pre-treatment step that

ideas further toward commercialization, and

through high-resolution photos.

Announced at the event were four new additions to the Seed Fund program’s contribution to the

will alert plant owners by identifying the intake

ultimately lead to the formation of a new business.

Another innovative project, Nano Assembly,

water’s fouling index. The ROFix device can

The Seed Fund is open to all KAUST faculty,

presented by Jun Pan, proposes a process to

predict different types of fouling in the early stage

students, staff, researchers, and postdocs, and

ŸŸ Falcon Viz (3D Aerial Scanning & Modeling

mass-produce quantum dots nanoparticles at a

so the right action can be taken before fouling

offers funding of up to US$ 200,000 as well as

System). Team members: Neil Smith,

significantly lower cost and higher quality than

occurs. The unit is fully automated, portable and

advisory support and mentorship up to 24 months.

Mohamed Shalaby, Luca Passone

what is currently available on the market. Their

easy to operate.

Kingdom’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

ŸŸ Nano Assembly (Low-Cost & High-Quality

Seed Fund will open the new round, Spring 2014,

patent-pending technology, recently published in a

The final presenter, Szilard Bucs, showcasing

high-impact journal, has the potential to open new

the EFD (Early Fouling Detection for Membrane

KAUST Participates in Ibtikar 2013

in February 2014. Interested applicants can email the Seed Fund team at 

‫جامعة امللك عبداهلل‬ 2013 ‫تشارك يف معرض ابتكار‬

One of the two KAUST domes at IBTIKAR.

HRH Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier, looks into one of the Red Sea Marine Life tanks during a visit to the KAUST exhibit at IBTIKAR. A student takes a photo of a microbial fuel cell during one of the workshops in the KAUST dome. IBTIKAR 2013, the third Saudi innovation exhibition,

system for crowd control (HACHID), a highly

was held Dec. 1-5 at the Riyadh International

accurate computational system that enables

Exhibition and Conference Center. It was sponsored

real-time human counting and tracking in high

by The King Abdulaziz and His Companions

density crowds, a technology that may prove

Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity

very useful during the Hajj and Umrah seasons

(Mawhiba) and Saudi Aramco. Over 200,000

for public safety.

people attended, including 45,000 students from

There were also interactive experiments. One

more than 2,000 schools, who visited the scientific

illustrated how some plants survive in salty soil

domes and took part in scientific workshops. Two

whereas others perish and how salt-tolerant

hundred innovations in water technology, gas and

plants improve food production. There was also

petrochemical industries, renewable energy, IT, and

a live demonstration on how Photocatalysis

medical fields were exhibited.

produces hydrogen gas by water-splitting; a

KAUST was an active participant in the event

presentation on the ubiquitous use of radar in

with two scientific domes. The first dome contained

non-defense applications; and a presentation

information about the exploration of the Red Sea

about the Photonics Laboratory.

and its marine life. The display included live Red Sea creatures in small water tanks.

The KAUST exhibits were visited by several top government officials headed by HRH Prince

The second dome displayed technology being

Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier. HE

developed at KAUST: electricity generated from

Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser, Minister of Economy

bacteria in a microbial fuel cell; the estimation

and Planning; HE Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah, Minister

and monitoring of rainfall to prevent flood

of Health; and HE Dr. Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel,

disasters by using unmanned aircraft (drones)

President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and

fitted with microsensors; and an innovative

Technology, visited as well. 

‫ وكذلك إستخدام‬،‫العيش في التربة المالحة دون غيرها‬ ‫النباتات المقاومة للملح لتحسين الحصاد الزراعي‬ ‫ كما قدمت الجامعة عرضا لتجربة‬.‫والتأمين ضد المجاعات‬ ‫علمية تم فيها ابتكار طريقة لفصل غاز الهيدروجين من‬ ‫ وكذلك طريقة‬،‫جزيئات الماء بواسطة التحفيز الضوئي‬ ‫ باإلضافة إلى عرض علمي قدمه مختبر‬،‫عمل الرادارات‬ .‫الضوئيات في جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية‬ ‫وقد شهد المعرض إقباال كبيرًا من الزوار حيث وصل‬ ‫ ألف‬200 ‫العدد اإلجمالي خالل أيام االفتتاح حوالي‬ ‫ الفا من طلبة التعليم العام من‬45 ‫زائر منهم ما يقارب‬ ‫ مدرسة زاروا خاللها العديد من القبب‬2000 ‫حوالي‬ ‫العلمية وحضروا فيها فعاليات ورش العمل المختلفة‬ .‫ فعالية علمية على مستوى المعرض‬200 ‫والتي تجاوزت‬ ‫كما زار جناح جامعة الملك عبداهلل عدد من المسؤولين‬ ‫على رأسهم صاحب السمو الملكي األمير مقرن بن‬ ‫ وكذلك‬،‫عبدالعزيز النائب الثاني لرئيس مجلس الوزراء‬ ،‫معالي وزير االقتصاد والتخطيط الدكتور محمد الجاسر‬ ‫ومعالي وزير الصحة الدكتور عبداهلل الربيعة ومعالي‬ ‫رئيس مدينة الملك عبدالعزيز للعلوم والتقنية الدكتور‬ ِ ‫ وقد إستمع الزوار إلى شرح‬،‫محمد السويل‬ ‫واف من طلبة‬ .‫الجامعة عن األبحاث التي شاركوا بها في هذا المعرض‬ ‫يشار إلى أن العدد االجمالي لالبتكارات الفردية المشاركة‬ ‫ ابتكارا توزعت على مجاالت‬200 ‫في المعرض بلغت‬ ‫مختلفة مثل تقنية المياه – الغاز والبتروكيماويات‬ – ‫– الطاقة المتجددة – تقنية المعلومات واإلتصاالت‬ .‫ باإلضافة إلى مجاالت أخرى‬،‫المجاالت الطبية‬

‫شاركت جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية في معرض‬ ‫ الذي نظمته مؤسسة الملك عبدالعزيز‬2013 ‫ابتكار‬ ‫ورجاله للموهبة واإلبداع بالتعاون مع شركة أرامكو والذي‬ ‫ُأقيم في مركز الرياض الدولي للمعارض والمؤتمرات خالل‬ .5/12/2013 – 1/12/2013 ‫الفترة من‬ ‫وجاءت مشاركة الجامعة في هذا المعرض بقبتين علميتين‬ ‫تمت إقامة ورش عمل فيهما إستهدفت طلبة المدارس‬ ،‫بمختلف المراحل وكذلك فئة الشباب من زوار المعرض‬ ‫وقد إشتملت القبة العلمية األولى على عرض ألحياء البحر‬ ‫األحمر عاش خاللها زوار الجناح تجربة علمية ممتعة‬ ‫وخاصة من طلبة المدارس حيث اكتشفوا أعماق البحر‬ ‫األحمر وتعرفوا على حياة الكائنات البحرية فيه من بواسطة‬ .‫نماذج احواض المياه التي صممت خصيصا لذالك‬ ‫القبة العلمية الثانية لجامعة الملك عبداهلل على‬ ّ ‫وتحتوي‬ ‫عرض تجارب علمية مهمة مثل استخدام البكتيريا إلنتاج‬ ‫ وعرض تطوير طائرات بدون طيار تحمل أجهزة‬،‫الكهرباء‬ ‫استشعار صغيرة تحدد مستوى ارتفاع مياه األمطار ومقدار‬ .‫سرعتها وذلك للوقاية والحد من كوارث الفيضانات والسيول‬ ‫كما تم عرض ابتكارًا عن السيطرة والتحكم في التجمعات‬ ‫البشرية عن كيفية ضبط الزحام من خالل إحصاء ومتابعة‬ ‫تحركات الناس في اوقات الذروة ويمكن استخدامها‬ ‫خالل فترات الحج والعمرة لتنظيم الحشود بطريقة‬ ‫أفضل والمساعدة في سالمة الحجاج والمعتمرين في مكة‬ .‫المكرمة والمدينة المنورة‬ ‫وتم خالل المعرض كذلك تقديم تجربة تفاعلية توضح‬ ‫تأثير الملح على النباتات وإيضاح كيف يتمكن بعضها من‬


December 2013


Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) 2014 THE FIFTH Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) is taking place January 12–30, 2014. Visit for details and a full program listing and to register for courses, events, and lectures presented by an eminent group of international speakers (71), in-Kingdom speakers (17), and KAUST speakers and presenters (47).

Clockwise: WEP activities include keynote speeches by Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry Prof. Hartmut Michel; alternative foods researcher Prof. Mark J. Post; and golden rice inventor Prof. Ingo Potrykus; African Drumming Concert and the Along the Hejaz Railway Exhibition.

For information, visit the new WEP Hub (WEP team office) on Level 2 of the Engineering Science Hall (building 9), room 2134 or email Follow events live on the WEP 2014 Twitter page at http:// and also join our Facebook group, DiscoverWEP@KAUST

Special Events, Series, Exhibits, and Highlights OFFICIAL OPENING OF WEP Opening Night evening


Saturday, January 11 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Monday, January 27 from 12:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Opening Session (Opening remarks by James Calvin followed by

community at KAUST the opportunity to learn about science in a fun

Opening keynote by Khalid Al-Falih, CEO and President of

and interactive setting. The KAUST School students, KAUST graduate

Saudi Aramco)

students, and postdocs will showcase various experiments.

The annual Science Fun Fair gives young people and the entire

Sunday, January 12 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. DISCOVER SAUDI ARABIA 2: ALONG THE HEJAZ RAILWAY Opening of Photography Exhibition

Keynote speakers will demonstrate how the process of plant evolution can give us important insights into the rapidly evolving field of genomics. The nature of evolution will be examined through


the lens of the various patterns of variation in genome sequence and

Thursday, January 17 from 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

structure. Ingo Potrykus has recently been widely featured in the

A popular community activity, the 5K Fun Run is open to everyone

media for inventing genetically modified Golden Rice.

Monday, January 20 from 1:30 - 2:00 p.m.

wishing to run or walk with friends and family or to sprint to the finish

Exhibition runs from January 20 – 27

line as a hopeful winner. The event starts and finishes at the Harbor


Sports Club.

By Mark J. Post and Jonathan Fraser

The Hejaz railway was built during the last years of the

Tuesday, January 14 from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

400-centuries-long reign of the Ottoman Empire. Built between 1901 and 1908, the railway brought pilgrims bound to the Holy Cities into


the Arabian Peninsula from Damascus.

In collaboration with Facilities & Community

alternative food sources as a solution to growing concerns about

Thursday to Friday, January 16-18 from 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

food security in the future. A researcher of in-vitro meat, Post


During this brown bag lecture series, Mark J. Post will discuss

In recognition of the 2014 UN International Year of Family

gained international media attention last August for presenting the

The Business Leadership Series, Learn to Lead

Farming, this event will celebrate the contribution of local farmers,

world's first lab-grown hamburger patty. The other main speaker

Learn from the following industry leaders in Saudi Arabia: Sheikh

including certified organic farms. The Farmers Market will provide the

at roundtable will be Jonathan Fraser, Founder of ENTO. His

Abdulrahman Abdulkader Fakieh, Eng. Mubarak Abdullah Al

community with the opportunity to buy healthy, fresh food directly

company, ENTO, uses different insects to create edible delicacies

Khafrah, Mrs. Nashwa Abdulhadi Taher, Mr. Hussein A. Al-Banawi,

from farmers and include a chef cooking demo.

which will be available to sample.



By Simon Pampena

By Hartmut Michel

Monday, January 27 from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00pm

Wednesday, January 15 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

and Mr. Zeyard Basam Al Basam. January 13, 22, 27, and 28 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. KICP Industrial Lectures and Discussion - The Future of Food in the Kingdom

Australian numeracy ambassador and television presenter Simon

Nobel Laureate in chemistry Prof. Hartmut Michel will discuss

Chaired by Prof. Nina Fedoroff and featuring Victor Aigbogun and

Pampena will entertain the young and young at heart with his

the shortcomings of using biofuels to tackle the problems of global

Ahmad AlBallaa

Mathemania standup show.

warming. Such an adverse effect is deforestation resulting from

Tuesday, January 14 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

the exploitation of palm oil or soy beans from tropical countries to CLOSING AWARD CEREMONY AND GALA DINNER



Thursday, January 23 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Senegalese traditional djembe drummer and percussionist Makha Diop brings the sounds and rhythm of West Africa to KAUST.

produce biofuels.

Wednesday, January 29 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Lecture Highlights Keynote Lectures presented each weekday evening by world leaders


in their respective fields, including Cedric Villani, Maths Field Medal

Thursday, January 21 from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. (Seminar)


Winner; Marion Guillou, President of Agreenium the French institute

Wednesday, January 22 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Keynote)

International Undergraduate Poster Session

in Agrosciences; and Regina Dougan, VP of Motorola Mobility.

Thursday, January 21 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.

strip about life in academia. Cham holds a PhD in Robotics from THE EVOLUTION OF DOMESTICATED PLANT SPECIES

KAUST Graduate Student and Postdoc Poster Session

Jorge Cham is the creator of "PHD Comics", the popular comic Stanford University.

By Michael Purugganan

Wednesday, January 22 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.

The WEP team would like to thank 2014 WEP sponsors: SABIC, King THE POTENTIAL OF GMOs FOR PUBLIC GOOD AND THE TOUGH

Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Construction Products Holding

Poster Session Award Ceremony


Company (CPC), National Water Company, Yanbu Aramco, Sinopec

Thursday, January 23 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

By Ingo Potrykus

Refining (YASREF) Company Ltd, and Lufthansa. 

Monday, January 13 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.



December 2013

The Beacon

Solar and Photovoltaic Engineering Research Center Develops Unique High-Efficiency Solar Cells Dr. Jessica Eid, KAUST Research Scientist, and colleagues in the Solar and Photovoltaic Engineering Research Center have been working to develop highefficiency inorganic thin film solar cells based on copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) materials. “These are I-III-VI2 semiconductor materials composed of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium,” explains Dr. Eid. “Among second generation photovoltaic technologies, CIGS is one of the most promising thin film technologies for the manufacture of solar panels. It has the advantages of being able to be deposited on flexible substrate materials, producing highly flexible and lightweight solar panels for different applications.” Dr. Eid and her team’s work (“Combinatorial

KAUST Research Scientist Dr. Jessica Eid exhibits her work on high-efficiency inorganic thin film solar cells based on copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) materials.

study of NaF addition in CIGSe films for high efficiency solar cells”) has recently been published in the journal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications (

By applying advanced combinatorial device prototyping, Dr. Eid and the team have developed a more thorough understanding

efficiency of 16.3% for solar cells without the addition of an antireflection layer,” states Dr. Eid.

During the setup phase of KAUST’s Solar and Photovoltaic

of the interdependencies between materials and device

The team continues to conduct experiments to gain a deeper

Engineering Research Center, Dr. Eid carried out experimental

performance in the complete Cu(Inx,Ga1-x)Se2 solar cell stack.

understanding of the photo-physics involved in the workings of

work related to the development of CIGS cells. Working with the

“This combinatorial approach is used during the sputtering of

the devices through the use of the facilities at KAUST’s Solar and

company Intermolecular in San Jose, California (US), Dr. Eid used

the metals to screen a wide range of elemental composition and

Photovoltaic Engineering Research Center. They are also exploring the

a proprietary R&D high productivity combinatorial platform to do

thickness,” explains Dr. Eid.

possibility of using the solar cells to build high-efficiency and low-

the work, focusing her efforts on the development of CIGS films

An additional area the team focused on was understanding

cost hybrid tandem structures.

how to manage sodium (Na) incorporation and concentration to

“Under the new direction of Professor Karl Leo, the Solar and

“In a CIGS solar cell, the CIGS layer acts as the absorber layer,” Dr. Eid

increase the conversion efficiency and improve manufacturing

Photovoltaic Engineering Research Center has set many ambitious

says. “To develop the CIGS layer, the first step is the deposition of the

yields. The in-depth characterization and analysis of processing

goals,” states Dr. Eid. “One of these is to install a world-class

metals copper, indium, and gallium by the sputtering technique using

results was done at KAUST.

combinatorial facility at KAUST to allow researchers to explore new

using a two-step process.

physical vapor deposition (PVD). The second step is annealing under H2Se/Ar at high temperature to form a CIGS polycrystalline film.”

“By implementing what we learned and by using a combinatorial approach, we have successfully demonstrated a power conversion

Dr. Karl Leo Appointed Director of KAUST Solar Center

and complex materials using earth abundant elements for solar cells and other energy-related applications.” 

inexpensive and widely available. The challenge, however, is that this technology still has fairly low efficiency and lifetime. Increasing the efficiency level of organic solar cells has been a major driving force of Prof. Leo’s research and entrepreneurial endeavors. One of the eight spin-off companies he has launched, located in Dresden, is the current world-leader with an organic PV efficiency rate of 12%. This is quite an improvement from the early efficiency rate of 1% when organic PVs were first introduced in the 1980s. His goal is to attain around 20%. “This field has taken enormous development,” said Prof. Leo. “Even a couple of years ago when you talked to people from silicon photovoltaics, they smiled, and they thought of organic photovoltaics as childish, little baby technology. Buy now they are taking us seriously,” he remarks. Prof. Karl Leo’s spin-off companies have gained a good level of success, as they’ve employed over 250 people and generated sizeable revenue levels. One of these companies, Novaled AG, which supplies materials for organic LEDs, was purchased by Samsung. Another company, Heliatek GmbH, which holds the OPV cell efficiency world record, plays a leading role in the application of organic solar cells. He believes that KAUST is a great place to pursue solar research. In addition to the fact that “Saudi Arabia is an interesting country to pursue work in solar energy,” Prof. Leo also credits the University’s commitment to technology transfer and collaborating with industry. Describing SPERC as a very “challenging, interesting, and really exciting task,” he looks forward to help establishing it

Prof. Karl Leo was recently appointed as Director of the Solar &

photovoltaic technologies. As Prof. Leo explains, “organic

as a strong and internationally respected basic research program.

Photovoltaics Engineering Research Center (SPERC). Prof. Leo brings

semiconductors represent the new form of semiconductors, which

“There are already very strong people here in the faculty of the

a wealth of combined research and industry experience to the Division

are carbon-based.” As opposed to the classical silicon-based

Solar Center. The next step is to bring that innovation into products.

of Physical Sciences and Engineering (PSE). A widely published

electronics, his work on carbon-based solutions has led him to

In my experience, there are several approaches. One is clearly to

scientist in over 440 refereed publications, his name is also associated

applications such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and

maintain research contracts with industry, which is already ongoing

with approximately fifty patents.

organic solar cells.

here, and we are working on having more. The second is to sustain

Prof. Leo joins KAUST from Technische Universität in Dresden,

The long-term perspectives for organic solar cells, or PV

a culture of technology transfer to applications. This must be our

Germany, where he is full professor of optoelectronics. His

technology, are appealing as they can be flexible on plastic

long-term goal -- not only to do research and publish papers but

research interests focus on organic semiconductors and emerging

substrates and can also be transparent. Moreover, carbon is

also to create an impact," he concludes. 


KAUST Researchers Advance Field of Graphene Plasmonics

December 2013


light, although it is atomically thin. These features have fueled research all around the world to investigate graphene’s potential applications in many areas.” Dr. Farhat, Dr. Hakan Bagci, KAUST Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Dr. Sebastien Guenneau, a senior researcher from Institut Fresnel at Aix-Marseille Université (France), are examining the use of graphene in photonics and optics. In a paper recently published in Physical Review Letters, which was also selected as the journal editors’ suggestion (, Dr. Farhat, Prof. Bagci, and Prof. Guenneau propose a novel solution to the challenging problem of exciting surface plasmons on graphene using electromagnetic fields at a broad band of frequencies. Plasmons are quasiparticles that are produced from the quantization of plasma oscillation. “Using the interplay of sound and light, we succeeded in efficiently exciting graphene plasmons. This process otherwise requires complicated and rigid setups,” states Dr. Farhat. “Our design, however, offers enhanced reconfigurability and an easier way for building novel photonic devices.” Dr. Farhat and the team studied plasmonic field interactions on graphene at nano-scales. “This process leads to the generation of surface plasmons on graphene’s surface,” he explains. As a result of collective oscillations of conduction electrons at the interface between the metals and dielectrics, metallic surface plasmons are generated. These have many “interesting features,” notes Dr. Farhat, but the most important feature is that they allow for the subwavelength manipulation of light. It was surprising to the researchers that, through corrugating the layer of graphene through flexural waves,

Prof. Hakan Bagci (L) and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Mohamed Farhat (R) discuss their work on graphene plasmonics in Prof. Bagci’s office at KAUST.

it was possible to absorb half the incident energy, despite the fact that the thickness of graphene is around 0.3 nm. “Plasmonic devices usually have thicknesses in the order of the micrometer,” notes Dr. Farhat. “This finding is very important as it shows it is possible to manipulate and harvest light using very thin structures. One potential application of this concept is the design of thinner and lighter photovoltaic cells that absorb sunlight in a broad band of frequencies.”

“Graphene is the material of the 21st century, and it offers tremendous possibilities to revolutionize

The team’s findings have broadened the level of knowledge in the emerging field of acoustical-optics in

people’s lives,” explains Dr. Mohamed Farhat, a KAUST postdoctoral fellow in the Computational

graphene. “This field has so far been remarkably under-studied,” Dr. Farhat says. “Our research work could

Electromagnetics Laboratory. “Over the last few years, it has been shown that a sheet of graphene

be a significant step towards the integration of graphene plasmonics into realistic and multiple applications,

conducts electricity better than silver; it is harder than diamond; and it absorbs 2.3% of the incident

prompting further advances in the emerging field of transformational plasmonics.” 

Raja Swaidan Wins Award at the International Membrane Science and Technology Conference Swaidan’s presentation was entitled, “Intrinsically UltraMicroporous Polyimide Sieves for Gas Separation.”


presentation outlined a new strategy for the development of more robust and practical gas separation materials. The work encourages a departure from current efforts towards highly permeable materials, emphasizing the importance of selectivity in membrane-based gas separation applications. The talk discussed the economics favoring such an approach and successes by Prof. Pinnau’s team in the design, synthesis, and characterization of target materials. Swaidan, a US citizen of Jordanian descent, is a founding student of KAUST and was involved in helping design and set up the gas permeation systems in AMPM with two other founding students under the guidance of Dr. Eric Litwiller, a senior research scientist. “Under Eric’s leadership, I acquired an invaluable set of skills that

Raja Swaiden, third from left, is congratulated by Dr. Bader Ghanem, Dr. Eric Litwiller, Professor Ingo Pinnau, and Dr. Xiaohua Ma.

supplement my knowledge from the classroom,” says Swaidan. “Now we have full control over state-of-the-art equipment that gives us insightful data only few have access to worldwide.”

Raja Swaidan, a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering in the

Australia, on Nov. 26. He received a certificate and cash prize.

Swaidan was not the only KAUST presenter at the conference;

Advanced Membrane and Porous Materials Center (AMPM), won

Swaidan is supervised by Professor Ingo Pinnau, Director of the

he shares that his talk and those of two other colleagues from

the International Membrane Science and Technology Conference

AMPM Research Center, and Dr. Bader Ghanem, lead scientist in

AMPM sparked a lot of interest in KAUST and respect for the work

(IMSTEC) 2013 Best Oral Student Presentation Award in Melbourne,

Prof. Pinnau’s high-performance polymer synthesis group.

being done in AMPM. 

Souraya Goumri-Said Named Associate Editor of Frontiers Physics Journal Souraya Goumri-Said, a postdoctoral fellow working with Prof. Sahraoui

to peer-review. Frontiers has recently partnered with the Nature Publishing

Chaeib in the Nano-Biophysics Laboratory in the Physical Science and

Group to advance the global open science movement.

Engineering (PSE) Division, has been named as an associate editor in the

At KAUST, Goumri-Said’s main area of research is density functional

interdisciplinary section of Frontiers’ physics journal. As such, she will

theory applied to material science and the modeling of the physical properties

be responsible for building the review editorial board and overseeing the

of functionalized materials, such as spintronics, ceramics, carbides, nitrides,

review process.

and materials for storage hydrogen. She also specializes in modeling optical

Frontiers is a Swiss, Gold open-access academic publisher launched in Souraya Goumri-Said

photonic devices and nanostructures for photovoltaic applications.

2007 as a grassroots initiative by scientists of the Swiss Federal Institute of

Goumri-Said is also associate editor of the Central European Journal of

Technology (EPFL). It is the first publisher to develop its own customized

Physics within the Springer Verlag Edition since 2008. She is the author of

IT platform to facilitate open-access publishing and offer novel solutions

more than 53 papers. 



December 2013

The Beacon

TKS Students Enthrall Audience with “The Ozee” The Auditorium in building 20 vibrated on Nov. 27 and 28

as Tin Man; Fatima Mahmud as Lion; Shaiza Sinha as

with enthusiasm and pride as parents, friends, and community

Wicked Woman; Meghan Lees as Glinda; and Briana

members were entertained by The KAUST School (TKS)

Sewell as The Wizard. Each played his or her part to

students presenting the musical, “The Ozee.” The production

the fullest, and their songs either moved the audience

was adapted by John McHugh and Catherine Hill from the

like “Over the Rainbow” sung by the beautiful soprano

1902 Broadway musical, “The Wizard of Oz” and the urban

voice of Dorothy or “rocked the house” like “Don’t

adaptation of 1975 of the same called “The Wiz,” using songs

Give Me No Bad News” by the Wicked Woman. The

from each and parts of the storyline into a shortened version

rollicking finale with the entire cast on stage

appropriate for children.

singing and dancing “Ease On Down the Road”

Over 130 students, parents, and teachers worked for nine

brought on a roar of applause. Others teachers responsible for the well done

weeks to prepare for the production. The obvious joy the students derived from participating was a delight to watch.

production were Jennifer Hermanson, choral direction;

The youngest actors were the Munchkins from grades K3

Lindsey Brooker, choreography; Chuck Brooker, band

to grade five. There were also secondary school Munchkins

direction and arrangement; Catherine Hill and Eduardo

and crows from grades six through eleven. Eight students

Regula, elementary direction and arrangement; and Lauren

were part of the orchestra while others helped backstage

Molloy and Rebbecca Morris, costume and set design. If you missed “The Ozee,” be sure to remember to

with design, props, scenery, and stage management. The principals of the production were Leesa Tulley as

watch for the next production next school year. You’ll be glad you did! 

PHOTOS BY: Eric Bakkan

Dorothy; Nathan Herrington as Scarecrow; Mohid Malik

Leading characters in the TKS musical, clockwise from top: the Lion, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Woman, The Wizard, Glinda, Dorothy, and the Tin Man.

One of the Munchkins gives Dorothy advice.

Crows threaten the Scarecrow during “The Ozee.”

My University John McHugh

weather, and he was costumed only in a t-shirt and camouflaged pants

of waves with matter (photonics) and the mechanics of

John McHugh, a secondary school drama teacher

with no coat. And, “Kids, the explosions in the movie are really as loud

materials with application to disordered nanomaterials and

at The KAUST School (TKS) , was one of the two

on the set as they are in the movie,” he says.

to biophysics.

directors and adaptors of “The Ozee,” the TKS

In his free time, John enjoys cycling with a group of friends and

musical production that was recently performed.

running. He is training to prepare for a triathlon, but says the

students, he was a mentor for the Saudi Research Science Institute

swimming part still needs work. 

(SRSI) this past summer. “I was very pleased with the students’

John, a native of Ireland, has been at KAUST since August 2011. He is originally from Donegal, but lived for five years in Istanbul with

Besides his own research and working with his MS and PhD

level of ability to perform in the lab. They were able to carry out

his parents and attended secondary school there. He graduated from

Sahraoui Chaieb

Middlesex University in North London and taught in London for three

Sahraoui Chaieb, Associate Professor of

said. “They were also mature, which is important for them to focus

years. While there, he also worked with the Harringey Shed Charity

Mechanical Engineering, is a KAUST founding

on the work they need to do in a short time.”

using drama to raise the self-esteem of disadvantaged children. He

professor, a “dinosaur,” he joking says, since he

says he became interested in drama while at the International School

has been at KAUST since the fall of 2009. Previous

and understand the research I asked them to undertake,” Sahraoui

An avid mountaineer, Sahraoui has climbed to site on a few, Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Mount Cook in New Zealand, one

in Istanbul where he had a wonderful teacher. He hopes he can be

to coming here he was at the University of Illinois in Urbana for

of the most difficult mountains to climb. He also enjoys swimming,

that kind of teacher and instill a love of drama in his students as well.

ten years and at MIT for three years before that.

running and cycling. Once about 20 years ago, he cycled most of

One of the rumors bandied about by the students at TKS is that

Algerian by birth, he moved to Paris to study for his BS

Mr. McHugh was in the movie, “Captain America.” Yes, it is true. He

degree in Physics, his MS degree in Theoretical Physics, and

played a US Marine. He said, “I had no lines, but I had a great time

his PhD degree in Physics and Physical Chemistry at the

“I am very happy to be at KAUST. Almost everything is easily

being on a set. If you don’t blink, you can see me in one scene.” He

Ecole Normale Supérieure. His research interests include

accessible, especially colleagues at all levels. Sometimes I cannot

said the movie scene he was in was shot in London in really raw

condensed matter physics, in particular the interaction

imagine living anywhere else for many, many reasons,” he said. 

the route of the Tour De France, but at a slower rate of speed that the cyclists in the actual race. He says, “It was a rigorous ride.”

2013 December Beacon