King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
BEACON املنـارة at Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
October 2013 / Thul Qedah/ Thul Hijjah 1434 Volume 4, Issue No. 2
“Great research universities are transforming themselves into global universities, becoming not only active hubs of education, discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship, but also beacons of attraction for their region…these universities think and act globally, and they deliver both locally and globally.” – Dr. Chameau
On October 3, President Jean-Lou Chameau delivered a talk at the inaugural Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in Singapore entitled “Research Universities and the ‘Spotify’ Moment.” The summit brought together international leaders in education to explore the fundamental role that worldclass research universities play in driving the knowledge economy. His remarks focused on three topics – people, networks, and technology – as he attributes them to being drivers and indicators of change
“Coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots in the ocean, so they are very
in how universities engage with each other and
important because they sustain a high number of species. Corals are the
the world. “Research universities, especially those
nurseries for many fish,” explained Prof. Christian Voolstra from the KAUST
with a strong focus on science and technology,
Red Sea Research Center. But over the last few decades, marine scientists
have consistently evolved to respond to the
have observed the decline of healthy coral reefs around the world.
needs and demands of society,” explains Dr.
As a paper published in August by Nature through The ISME Journal
Chameau. “Around the globe, research universities
(doi: 10.1038/ismej.2013.127), co-authored by Prof. Voolstra and
have evolved to play increasingly complex and
colleagues from KAUST and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand,
comprehensive roles in their nations. And today,
explains: “A major factor contributing to their decline is outbreaks and
the world’s research universities are evolving from
propagation of coral diseases.”
good to great to global, reflecting the mobility and
In their natural and healthy state, corals are very colorful organisms.
connectivity of talent and assets in a knowledge-
Once they become diseased, they lose these characteristic tissue colors.
and competition–driven world.
The group of scientists, also including Cornelia Roder, Chatchanit
“Great research universities are transforming
Arif, Till Bayer, Manuel Aranda, Camille Daniels, Ahmed Shibl, and
themselves into global universities, becoming
Suchana Chavanich, explains that “coral diseases appear in the form
not only active hubs of education, discovery,
of patches or bands in the coral surface.” “They either develop for
innovation, and entrepreneurship, but also
example, white spots, pink spots, white bands, or dark bands,” Prof.
beacons of attraction for their region,” Dr.
Voolstra further expounds.
Chameau says. “The global university functions as
While the underlying cause of the disease is not clear, marine scientists
a global web of knowledge, talent, and assets, and
know that bacteria are responsible in most cases. Therefore, the aim of the
becomes a point of differentiation for its home
study was to compare coral disease patterns of two coral species, from the
base. These universities think and act globally,
same coral reef displaying identical signs of disease. They analyzed the
and they deliver both locally and globally.”
bacteria inhabiting them and were able to determine that similar signs of
Dr. Chameau also points out that “not all
disease also correlated with the same bacterial footprint.
global universities are evolving from the pool
“This provides a framework in which we can further increase our
of historically great research institutions. New
understanding of coral disease by applying our analysis in a multi-species
entrants in higher education, responding to unmet
framework”, Prof. Voolstra explains.
demand for education and knowledge in the world, are attempting to leap-frog to the global arena by leveraging mobility and connectivity. It’s like bypassing hard-wired infrastructure and heading straight for the iPhone.” The Essential Ecology | Continued on p4
دراسة مقارنة ألمراض الشعاب املرجانية
Bacterial Footprint of Coral Reef Diseases
“If one wants to understand the sustainability, or resilience, of corals in other places, the Red Sea is indeed the perfect place to start a study.” – Prof. Voolstra Bacterial Footprint of Coral Reef Diseases | Continued on p5
يقول البروفسور كريستيان فولسترا من مركز أبحاث البحر األحمر في جامعة الملك "تمثل الشعاب المرجانية بؤرة التنوع البيولوجي في: عبداهلل للعلوم و التقنية حيث أنها مهمة جدًا لعدد كبير من األسماك والكائنات البحرية التي،المحيطات ولكن العلماء الحظوا على مدى العقود الماضية انخفاض عدد."تتخذها مسكنًا لها .الشعاب المرجانية السليمة في جميع أنحاء العالم وشرح البرفسور فولسترا أحد العوامل الرئيسية التي تساهم في تفشي أمراض الشعاب المرجانية وانتشارها وذلك في ورقة بحثية تشارك في كتابتها مع زمالئه ،من جامعة الملك عبداهلل وجامعة شواللونغكورن في تايالند وهم كورنيليا رودر وسوشانا، أحمد شبل، كميل دانييلز، مانويل اراندا، تيل باير،تشاتشانيت عارف إحدى منشورات،ISME و ُنشرت هذه الورقة في شهر أغسطس في مجلة،تشافانيتش .Nature مجلة ولكنه يفقد، يتميز المرجان في حالته الطبيعية والسليمة بألوانه الزاهية والمتميزة وذكر العلماء في الورقة أن اعراض مرض المرجان.هذه األلوان بمجرد اصابته بمرض حيث يقول البرفسور.تظهر في شكل بقع أو خطوط طولية على سطح المرجان أو بشكل،ال ذلك "تكون اعراض المرض إما بصورة بقع بيضاء أو وردية ً فولسترا مفص ."شرائط بيضاء أو ذات لون داكن إال أن كل النتائج،ًوعلى الرغم من أن السبب األساسي لمرض المرجان ليس واضحا لذا.التي توصل إليها علماء البحار تشير إلى وجود دور للبكتيريا في معظم الحاالت كان الهدف من هذه الدراسة هو مقارنة أنماط المرض في نوعين من أنواع المرجان وتمكن العلماء من تحديد عالمات مشابهة للمرض.ومن نفس الشعاب المرجانية ترتبط بنوع واحد من البكتيريا األمر الذي كان له أثر كبير في زيادة فهمنا ألمراض . الشعاب المرجانية لوحظ انتشار أمراض الشعاب المرجانية بصورة أساسية في المناطق التي تتركز فيها النشاطات البشرية مثل المناطق والبيئات السياحية حيث يوجد مستوى عال ال عن ً من البكتيريا الضارة نتيجة التلوث من أنظمة الصرف الصحي من الفنادق فض .العوامل األخرى كارتفاع درجة الحرارة فإن الشعاب المرجانية في البحر األحمر بشكل عام وعلى طول شواطئ،ومن ناحية أخرى المملكة العربية السعودية بصورة خاصة تتمتع بحالة صحية جيدة نظرًا لخلو سواحل وحتى مع تأثير النمو السكاني.المملكة العربية السعودية من البنى التحتية السياحية على الشعاب المرجانية حول مدينة جدة إال أنه يمكننا القول أن الشعاب المرجانية في المملكة بصورة عامة ال تزال في حالتها الطبيعية وهو أمر جيد لهذه الشعاب والتي .يمكن أن تكون بمثابة أساس لدراسات أخرى كما يقول البروفسور فولسترا 5 تتمه صفحة
PHOTO BY: ANNA ROIK
The Essential Ecology of Research Universities
As President Chameau explained in his recent talk at the Times Higher Education Summit
From student accolades on page 5 to recent papers relating to plant research on pages 6 and 7, our
highlighted on page 1 of this issue, the degree of higher educational institutional effectiveness
people are driven by a passion for discovery. This passion permeates our daily work, whether in the lab,
and success correlates to several key factors, including a relentless commitment to education
in the field, or at symposiums or conferences on campus or around the world.
and research excellence. In the pages of this issue, we highlight the amazing work of some of our students, faculty, scientists, and entrepreneurs; every day their endeavors demonstrate
We invite you to take part in this journey of discovery through these pages and celebrate October’s many achievements in the KAUST research and wider community.
KAUST’s commitment to excellence.
—THE BEACON Editorial
The Beacon, Volume 4, Issue 2, October 2013. Published by The Communications Department, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia. Contact Salah Sindi firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michelle D'Antoni email@example.com © King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Printed on partially recycled paper.
KAUST Supercomputing Lab hosts NVIDIA and Intel workshops on cutting-edge high performance computing technologies
Funds (OCRF) and by the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program (KICP), which invited several of
The Supercomputing Lab, NVIDIA (the world leader in visual computing technologies), and
and Dr. Pierre Beaujuge, Assistant Professor of Chemical Science, welcomed over 70 participants,
Intel (the world’s largest chip manufacturer) sponsored a pair of one-day tutorials on September
including leading research scientists, members of industry, engineers, and young researchers from
18 and October 2 on accelerating scientific applications using Graphical Processing Units
KAUST to the workshop.
(GPUs) and the Intel Xeon Phi, respectively. About 150 participants attended each workshop, with 20% of the attendees from local and regional universities, agencies, and industries.
its member companies to attend the event. The conference chairs, Dr. Husam Alshareef, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering,
Scientists working at the forefront of energy research gave two days of presentations, which were followed by a technical poster presentation and competition. Presentation speakers included
The tutorials’ purpose was to expose participants to emergent high
scientists from Europe, China, Korea, India, Singapore, and the US; industrial collaborators Saudi
performance computing technologies. As the scientific community
Aramco and SABIC; other Saudi institutions; and KAUST students and researchers. The MRS
anticipates exascale supercomputers capable of achieving a
Student Chapter at KAUST staffed the poster competition, which was led by PhD student and
quintillion floating point operations per second with a billion-
KAUST MRS Chapter President Nuha Al-Hebshi.
thread concurrency by the end of this decade, application and
In his welcome address to participants, Prof. Alshareef outlined the goals of the workshop,
library developers have to rethink and redesign their numerical
including discussing challenges in energy storage technologies, enhancing partnerships among
algorithms to match the underlying hardware architecture.
participating institutions, and identifying future collaborative research opportunities. He also
Today, a single accelerator-based hardware device (e.g., the NVIDIA Kepler GPU and the Intel
described the growth of the energy-storage research group at KAUST, which began in 2010 with
Xeon Phi) can sit under a desk with tens of cores and can deliver more than 1Tflop/s (a trillion
two members. The group now has six members and nearly 20 publications in leading academic
floating point operations per second). For perspective, the cumulative performance of just 200 of these
journals. Prof. Alshareef noted these publications have helped solidify KAUST’s position in the
lightweight accelerators outperforms the current sustained performance of KAUST's 2009-vintage
global energy storage research community.
Shaheen supercomputer. Accelerators will improve in maturity and productivity in the press toward
Topics covered during the workshop included materials issues for energy storage devices,
exascale systems. Most of the performance capability of future supercomputers will likely derive from
including Li-ion and Na-ion batteries, supercapacitors, flow batteries, fuel cells, and solar
them, as is already true of the top-ranked computer in the world today, the "MilkyWay", which is
hydrogen production and storage.
located in China.
Eighteen posters were submitted for the technical poster competition, with best poster prizes It is critical that students, postdocs, scientists, and faculty members
going to Angel Garcia Esparza, Lina Abdul Halim, and Guy Ndjawa, PhD candidates from the
acquire enough knowledge and training to cope with the challenges
Physical Sciences and Engineering Division.
and enjoy the opportunities of using these accelerators. The
The workshop “was successful in bringing together researchers from academia and industry,
tutorials provided an understanding of possible execution models
and provided an excellent opportunity for our students and researchers to learn about this
and basic details of both architectures. Technical sessions described
exciting field of research,” stated Prof. Alshareef. “It was a valuable venue for discourse between
various programming models (CUDA and OpenMP) and showed examples of
international experts and young researchers, and has helped promote collaborations between
scientific codes ported on the Kepler and the Xeon Phi architectures. Some of the currently
academia and industry.”
supported software packages were highlighted by KAUST researchers. Dr. Hatem Ltaief, workshop chair, stated: “High performance computing is not only about reducing time to solution, but also exploring innovative research techniques and algorithms at an unprecedented scale for science breakthrough discovery. All this was not feasible before due to the
Technology Demonstration Day Exhibits Prof. Atif Shamim’s Tracking Tag Device for Saudi Companies
lack of computing power. These tutorials helped participants attain the knowledge they needed about
Atif Shamim, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, and a dedicated team from
new technologies to accomplish this end. ”
Technology Transfer & Innovation (TTI) organized and hosted a technology pilot demonstration day on September 26 for Prof. Shamim’s inkjet-printable universal tracking tag device (see The
BESE Distinguished Lecture: Human Brain Project
Beacon, March 2013). The device provides novel integrated indoor and outdoor localization services on an inkjet-
Prof. Henry Markram from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland,
printed, wearable, lightweight, flexible, low-cost, and miniaturized tag. The tag is monitored over
discussed the Human Brain Project as part of a recent BESE Distinguished Lecture Series. Dr.
internet-enabled devices such as smart phones, iPads, and personal computers, and location data
Markram is a professor of neuroscience at EPFL and is founder of the Brain Mind Institute, founder
can be accessed on a user-friendly interface such as Google maps.
and director of the Blue Brain Project, and the coordinator of the Human Brain Project (HBP). In his address, Prof. Markram said that understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If the challenge can be met, it will be possible to gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain diseases, and build revolutionary new computing technologies. He continued saying that today, for the first
“Tracking tags have many potential applications, such as locating the elderly, children, or pets; monitoring crowds during large events; tracking products through a supply chain; or maritime tracking, for example,” Prof. Shamim explained during the event. The technology demonstration day gave Prof. Shamim and the TTI team a chance to show off the tag device to representatives from 12 Saudi companies in attendance.
time, today information and communication technology (ICT) has brought these goals within
“We’re using the pilot demo process to engage the companies and capture their imaginations,”
reach. The goal of the HBP is to translate this vision into reality using ICT as a catalyst for
stated Maria Douglass, Acting Director of TTI. “Hopefully this will start off a process that goes
a global collaborative effort to understand the human brain, its diseases, and to emulate its
beyond a traditional licensing agreement to develop the core technology platform, getting a new
product on the market and launching new business opportunities.”
The Human Brain project, one of two ten-year one billion euro projects selected in January
Added Raghid Shreih, Technology Portfolio Manager from TTI: “I was pleasantly surprised to
2013 for funding by the European Commission, launched on October 1. Prof. Markram said that
see the kind of companies that exist here in Saudi Arabia that work in advanced topics such as
the first three years will be devoted to designing, developing, and deploying the first versions
vehicle tracking and tracking of assets. These areas fit in very well with this technology.”
of six ICT platforms dedicated to neuroinformatics, brain simulation, high performance
“The importance and significance of the pilot demo is that we have a faculty member, Prof.
computing, medical informatics, neuromorphic computing and neurorobotics; to creating
Shamim, who is committed to walking the technology development pathway jointly with Saudi
a user community of research groups within and outside the HBP; and to developing a
companies,” said Douglass. “From our perspective in TTI, the ability and willingness of the faculty
framework for collaboration.
member to participate in the process is extremely critical.” Douglass also noted that she and her team in TTI, Prof. Shamim, and interested Saudi companies
1st International Workshop on Energy Storage at KAUST a ‘Valuable’ Success The 1st International Workshop on Energy Storage was held at the University from September
“form a kind of triumvirate, building a knowledge base of how to commercialize technology.” Shreih explained: “Based on the demonstration, each company may be able to find an application for Prof. Shamim’s core technology, developing it in that direction. It could be applicable in many different markets and fields.”
23 – 25. Endorsed by the Materials Research Society (MRS), an international organization of
Added Douglass: “We’re talking about Saudi companies adopting and developing applications
interdisciplinary materials researchers from government, universities, and industry, the workshop
from this technology platform that will be globally competitive. We’re very excited about this
focused on the research challenges and opportunities in different energy storage technologies.
and about the potential of putting Saudi Arabia on the map as a hot spot of excellence in certain
The workshop was funded mainly by a competitive grant from the Office of Competitive Research
niche high-tech markets.”
Seed Fund Entrepreneurs: From the Lab to the Boardroom The KAUST New Ventures and Entrepreneurship
رواد مشاريع صندوق التمويل من املخترب:التأسيسي إىل حجرة االجتماعات
Group recently organized a panel discussion on entrepreneurship moderated by Prof. Mootaz Elnozahy, Dean of CEMSE, and featuring four members of the University faculty: Profs. Gary Amy, Klaus-Victor Peinemann, Helmut Pottmann, and Prof. Michael Berumen. Each panel member shared his personal insights and experiences with the Seed Fund program and the entrepreneurial journey in general. “It’s really been a pleasure to work with the Economic Development and the Seed Fund team,” said Prof. Amy, Director of the Water Desalination and Reuse Research Center. He described KAUST as an ideal environment to connect research to industry, since through the intermediary of Economic Development, “KAUST researchers don’t need to chase industry, as they come to us.”
“KAUST researchers don’t need to chase industry, as they come to us.” – Prof. Gary Amy In addition to a favorable entrepreneurship culture fostered at the University through partnerships and MOUs with leading corporations, Prof. Amy and the other panelists further highlighted KAUST’s unique focus on “goal-oriented research that
Standing from left to right): Prof. Mootaz Elnozahy, Prof. Michael Berumen, Prof. Helmut Pottmann, Prof. Klaus-Victor Peinemann, Amin Al-Shibani, Teo Uysal Sitting (from left to right : Ibrahim Faza, Prof. Gary Amy, President Jean-Lou Chameau . والسيد تيو أوسيل، السيد أمين الشيباني،فيكتور بينيمان- البروفسور كالوس، البرفسور هيلموت بوتمان، البرفسور مايكل بيرومين، البروفسور معتز النزهى:)(من اليسار الى اليمين لو شامو- والرئيس جان، البروفسور جاري أمي، السيد إبراهيم فازا:)(من اليسار الى اليمين
requires deliverables.” Sharing a common vision to develop the fruits of their research into tangible technologies offering
Berumen of the Red Sea Research Center said, “I
solutions to real-world needs and challenges, the
was determined to find a way to make my research
faculty members described the Seed Fund program
as an invaluable tool in helping them navigate the
As a marine biologist, he realized that scientists
process of taking their technological innovations
in his field work with simple technology that is
about two hundred years old. “During dives, we use
Prof. Peinemann a member of the Advanced
a pencil with underwater paper and literally spend
Membranes and Porous Materials Center and part
hours taking notes while we’re under water. Hundreds
of the four-member Seed Fund-winning project
of thousands of records are typed into a computer
Isoporous Membranes, told the audience that while
manually after we spend hours in the water recording
part of his work as an academic is to produce
data," he explained.
scientific papers for publication in high-impact journals, his main motivation is to see the work he’s developing in application and working in a real-world setting. He gave the example of a company he started with two friends in Germany in 1995 with a small loan of $50,000. From a single machine, the company began
“Professionally, it makes you look at your research in a different way…it really forced me to look carefully at how we do things and think about where there are solutions.” –Prof. Michael Berumen
producing and selling membranes on a small scale. Today the business has twenty employees. “I’m
He recounted how his idea for his Seed
always thinking when I’m developing something
Fund-winning project, iDive, came about as he was
about how it can be later transferred into a product,"
having a conversation with someone about the
he said. Prof. Peinemann’s advice to potential Seed
size of the data they had collected. So he invented
Fund applicants is to make use of KAUST’s resources
a housing device to allow him to take an iPad
to patent their great ideas right away.
underwater while maintaining the touch screen
Prof. Pottmann, Director of the Geometric
functionality. To his surprise, it worked.
Modeling and Scientific Visualization Research
“Professionally, it makes you look at your research
Center, also highlighted the benefits of the
in a different way. I really think it has been true for
Pre-Seed Fund program available to those who,
me. It really forced me to look carefully at how we
like himself, are exploring ideas to submit for Seed
do things and think about where there are solutions,”
funding. Speaking of two groups who have worked
locally-focused initiatives with the Seed Fund program
The Seed Fund is a product development funding
within his center (Makkah Window and Hachid), Prof.
mechanism that can help move promising ideas
Pottmann added: “I really like to see all these research
further toward commercialization and ultimately
scientists in the center develop during the coaching
lead to the formation of a new business. The Seed
phase of the Seed Fund. You can really see how they
Fund is open to all KAUST faculty, students, staff,
start to think like businessmen.”
researchers, and postdocs, and offers funding of up
Echoing the other panelists’ belief that research should be goal-oriented and provide solutions, Prof.
to US$ 200,000, as well as advisory, support, and mentorship for up to 24 months.
ال لشركة أسسها مع ً وضرب مثا.على أرض الواقع بقرض1995 اثنين من أصدقائه في ألمانيا عام . دوالر50.000 صغير مقداره وأوضح البرفسور بينيمان أن شركتهم بدأت انتاج األغشية وبيعها على نطاق صغير باستخدام جهاز ويقول.ً واليوم تضم الشركة عشرين موظفا،واحد البرفسور بينيمان " دائمًا أفكر بعملية الوصول الى ."المنتج النهائي عندما أعمل على تطوير شيء ما ثم نصح البرفسور بينيمان المشاركين المحتملين في برنامج صندوق التميل التأسيسي باستخدام موارد الجامعة في تسجيل براءة االختراع ألفكارهم .العظيمة على الفور مدير مركز،كما قام البرفسور هيلموت بوتمان النمذجة والتصوير العلمي بتسليط الضوء على فوائد البرنامج االخرى المتاحة والتي تسبق برنامج صندوق التمويل التأسيسي لمن لديهم أفكار ثم تحدث عن فريقين في مركزه، يرغبون تقديمها قدموا مبادرات محليه مع برنامج صندوق التمويل .)Hachid التأسيسي (نافذة مكة و وركز أعضاء هيئة التدريس المشاركين في النقاش على ضرورة أن تكون األبحاث موجهة نحو تحقيق ،أهداف محددة و أن تضع الحلول للمشاكل القائمة حيث قال البرفسور مايكل بيرومين من مركز أبحاث البحر األحمر "كنت مصممًا على ايجاد وسيلة لجعل وتحدث البرفسور بيرومين."دراستي البحثية أسهل عن مجال عمله كعالم أحياء بحرية و أن العلماء في مجال دراسته يستخدمون في الغالب تقنيات بسيطة جد ًا قد يكون عمر بعضها حوالي مائتي كما تحدث أنهم يستخدمون قلم الرصاص مع.عام ورقة تحت الماء خالل الغوص لتدوين المالحظات ويتم إدخال مئات اآلالف من.لعدة ساعات البيانات المسجلة بعد ذلك في الكمبيوتر بصورة وتحدث عن بداية فكرته لمشروع صندوق.يدوية حيث كان يتحدث مع،iDive التمويل التأسيسي أحد األشخاص عن كبر حجم البيانات التي كان يجمعونها تحت الماء لدرجة أنه اخترع غالف خاص يتيح له استخدام جهاز آيباد تحت الماء مع الحفاظ على كامل وظائف شاشة اللمس؛ ولم يكن .يتوقع نجاح فكرته من ناحية تسويقية
نظمت مجموعة ريادة األعمال والمشاريع الجديدة مؤخر ًا في جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية حلقة نقاش عن ريادة األعمال بحضور عدد كبير وقاد النقاش البروفسور معتز.من المهتمين عميد قسم العلوم والهندسة الحاسوبية، النزهي والكهربائية والحسابية باالضافة إلى أربعة من البروفسور: أعضاء هيئة الدريس في الجامعة وهم ،فيكتور بينيمان- البروفسور كالوس،جاري ايمي البرفوسور هيلموت بوتمان والبرفسور مايكل وشارك كل عضو في حلقة النقاش.بيرومين بأفكاره وخبراته الشخصية عن برنامج صندوق .التمويل التأسيسي وريادة المشاريع بشكل عام مدير مركز أبحاث تحلية،وقال البرفسور ايمي " إنه لمن دواعي سروري: وإعادة استخدام المياه العمل مع التنمية االقتصادية وفريق صندوق ووصف جامعة الملك عبداهلل،"التمويل التأسيسي كبيئة مثالية لربط األبحاث بالصناعة عبر التنمية حيث ال يحتاج باحثو جامعة الملك،االقتصادية ألنهم هم من،عبداهلل مالحقة مسؤولي الصناعة .سيأتون إليهم وتحدث البروفسور أيمي وبقية األعضاء عن ثقافة ريادة المشاريع التي تدعمها جامعة الملك عبداهلل بواسطة إقامة الشراكات ومذكرات التفاهم مع كما تطرقوا إلى التركيز المتميز، الشركات الرائدة للجامعة على االبحاث الموجهة نحو تحقيق أهداف .محددة وتحدث أعضاء هيئة التدريس عن رؤيتهم المشتركة لتطوير ثمار أبحاثهم إلى تقنيات ملموسة تضع ،حلول لالحتياجات والتحديات االقتصادية العالمية كما وصفوا برنامج صندوق التمويل التأسيسي بأداة بالغة األهمية تسهل عملية نقل االبتكارات التقنية .إلى السوق وقام البرفسور كالوس بينيمان من مركز األغشية المتطورة والمواد المسامية وأحد أعضاء مشروع الغشاء ذو المسام المتجانسة الفائز بجائزة صندوق التمويل التأسيسي بمخاطبة الحضور حيث تحدث عن أن الدافع الرئيسي له في عمله كأستاذ جامعي ليس فقط كتابة األوراق العلمية لتنشر في المجالت العلمية المشهورة بل بمشاهدة نتائج أبحاثه تطبق
Saudi National Day Art Competition a ‘Spectacular Exhibition’ of Community Talent
KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau and Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance, present a certificate of appreciation to Edwige Boutry, a judge at the First Annual Saudi National Day Art Competition.
celebrate Saudi Arabia’s National Day,
“The art exhibition is an ideal way to honor and recognize the
but we also sought to engage different
rich history and culture of the Kingdom,” said Maha Aldubayan,
members of our community and to
coordinator of KAUST’s Social Responsibility Programs, at the
encourage creativity, and through
opening of the event. “The artists’ work documents not only the
this, promote the places, traditions,
life and surroundings of the Kingdom, but also communicates a
and culture of Saudi Arabia.”
love and passion for Saudi Arabia and its people.”
Open to all KAUST residents age
Winners of the competition were announced by KAUST
16 and above, artwork in one of three
President Jean-Lou Chameau. Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Executive
categories – photography, art and
Vice President of Administration and Finance, acknowledged
drawing, or calligraphy – featured
the kind participation of the judges at the conclusion of the
in the competition came from 21
members of the KAUST community,
Winners of the competition were: David Ketchson,
including students, faculty, staff, and
photography category; Vincent Guillerm, photography category
(two pieces); Ashvitha Sirdharan, art and drawing category;
In honor of Saudi National Day, KAUST’s Social Responsibility
Five judges from the community acted as a panel to select six
Department, a part of Saudi Initiatives, organized the First Annual
winning pieces of artwork from the competition. The judges were:
Saudi National Day Art Competition. The competition’s opening
Faizi Ghodsi, Graduate Affairs; Edwige Boutry, the KAUST Schools;
Cathrine Buttner summed up the event, stating: “The
reception was held on September 23 in the Al Marsa Restaurant.
Damián San Román Alerigi, Graduate Student Council; Caitlin Clark,
competition was greeted with much enthusiasm as we celebrated
“The mission of the Social Responsibility office is to improve the
Communications Department; and Cathrine Buttner, Saudi Initiatives.
the winners and all those who participated at a spectacular
quality of life for individuals and communities,” explained Dr. Najah
Nine pieces, including the six winning pieces, were selected to be made
exhibition. We look forward to seeing what our KAUST artists
Ashry, Vice President of Saudi Initiatives. “We not only wanted to
have to share with us next year!”
Saudi Initiatives’ Outreach – Extending Helping Hands to Neighbors “We at KAUST have an opportunity to share the considerable intellectual and social capital of our community members with those around us, particularly our neighboring villages and towns.” - Dr. Ashry
Jiang Tong, art and drawing category; and Belkacem Houari, calligraphy category.
families. Enhanced vocational skills could lead to better jobs and increased economic opportunities. “We encouraged community spirit with the Saudi National Day Art Exhibit and Competition,” she said. “We invited the community to share
were distributed to 1,087 students in nine neighboring elementary,
original photography, drawings, paintings or Arabic calligraphy of
intermediate, and secondary schools in Thuwal and Qadimah during
places, traditions, and Saudi people and culture for an art competition
the first week of September.
celebrating Saudi National Day. We had over 35 submissions and
Ms. Brophy was involved with both projects. She shares, “It was my pleasure to participate in the English program in Thuwal. The girls
a large crowd for the opening reception and announcement of the winners on September 23.”
I met were bright, enthusiastic, and engaging – a teacher’s dream.
And then there are the water heroes, a group of PhD students
Social responsibility is the obligation of individuals, corporations,
When I accompanied the KAUST delegation to deliver school supplies,
from the KAUST student chapter of the International Desalination
and organizations to act in a way that benefits the welfare of society
my summer students ran up to hug me. It was truly a heartwarming
Association. They encourage environmental awareness about the
and the environment. Good citizenship is one of KAUST’s core values.
experience for me.”
conservation of water by targeting KAUST school children. “The
The Social Responsibility Division of Saudi Initiatives spearheads
The KAUST School (TKS) helped neighboring teachers by conducting
program increases awareness of the importance of lowering water
KAUST’s citizenship efforts with the help of the faculty, students,
two workshops for Thuwal teachers, one for 11 top-evaluated male
usage by creating healthy attitudes in the next generation,” said
staff, and community members. “ We at KAUST have an opportunity
teachers and one for 11 top-evaluated female teachers. The KAUST
Mohanned Al-Ghamdi, leader of the group. “We conducted a water
to share the considerable intellectual and social capital of our
Teacher Development Program (TDP) Saudi interns and their master
awareness day in Discovery Square in June. Children played water
community members with those around us, particularly in our
teacher mentors shared knowledge about motivating students,
games and signed a pledge to conserve water.” In one of the games
neighboring villages and towns,” said Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President
classroom behavior management, and engaging learning activities.
the water heroes asked children to see how little water they could use
of Saudi Initiatives. “We are attempting to accomplish this by focusing
Thuwal teachers left with gifts of teaching aids for the classroom,
to clean dishes with and a sponge. The children loved the games and
on four areas: education, prosperity, community, and environment.”
such as balls and laminated cards to use in motivational games. Dr.
understood the importance of limiting water use, Al-Ghamdi noted.
Several educational programs to inspire the youth of Saudi
Jacqueline Phillips, head of the Teacher Development Programs at
The group is planning a program at TKS in November or December.
Arabia and support life-long learners are underway and have
TKS and creator of the workshops, said, “The workshops were quite
“We will ask the children to measure the amount of water they use
proven very effective and popular. English classes at the Thuwal
successful. The Thuwal teachers were very receptive to the material
to brush their teeth and shower by timing their usage. After they
Female Community Center this summer were well-received.
and methods presented and asked for more of everything in the next
complete their experiments, we will invite them to ask their neighbors
KAUST community member Trish Brophy taught English that could
series of workshops, which will be held in November.”
to do the same and have them distribute water conservation pamphlets.
be used in everyday life to 15 intermediate and secondary female
Another series of workshops called Springboard is slated to take
students for two weeks. The response was positive. “We now have
place for females at the Female Community Center. The workshops
many more students and housewives hoping to take part in classes
are designed to increase confidence, self-esteem, develop goals, and
as well,” said Maha Al-Dubayan, coordinator of KAUST’s Social
motivate participants. The program is a leading UK-based women’s
development program designed by women, for women. Certified
Another project was the voucher program for school bags.
trainers will conduct the sessions for 10-15 females.
We also will ask them to describe a day without water in an essay” said Al-Ghamdi. The Social Responsibility Group plans other projects with the KAUST students as well. “We have just begun,” said Al-Dubayan. If you are interested in helping Social Responsibility as a volunteer, please complete a form at: http://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/vie
Community members bought vouchers at Tamimi and Tihama stores
“We hope the Female and Male Community Centers will be the
that were used to purchase school supplies. KAUST contributed by
hubs of some of our proposed programs, like courses in computer
For more detailed information about the volunteer program, contact
matching the funds collected and purchased quality school bags that
skills and math and vocational training,” said Al-Dubayan. “These
Al-Dubayan at firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
community volunteers helped assemble with the supplies. The bags
courses like ‘Springboard' could help increase the prosperity of local
sa; or call her at 808-3432.
The Essential Ecology | Continued from p1 In addition to the talk, Dr. Chameau was invited
innovation and prosperity of a region to
endeavor, it has some risk and will require hard
international culture will be the foundation
by Times Higher Education (THE) to share further
several key factors, including a relentless
work and sustained efforts. However, we have
of its success, but ultimately, the greatness of
reflections on the key strategic and leadership
commitment to education and research excellence;
several assets to build upon, such as a great vision
the institution resides in our faculty, staff, and
characteristics behind the success of his previous
having the discipline to focus research; and
and commitment to excellence; opportunities for
students. It is an exciting time to be a part of a
two institutions, Caltech and Georgia Tech. In a
supporting exploration and innovation through
faculty and students to aim high as we support
global research university and it is our shared
brief article he wrote for the THE magazine, titled
diverse industry collaboration.
their research both financially and operationally;
commitment to the KAUST values and our hard
"Air of Innovation," he outlined characteristics and
“As I reflect upon these values, I recognize that
and an international DNA which links our future
work and collaboration that will lead to success
values that stimulate and sustain the innovation
they are basically the same ones KAUST must
to global partnerships with academia and business.
now and in the future.”
ecosystem of great and now global science and
nurture to be a great and global university. KAUST
“KAUST’s resources and infrastructure provide
If you would like to read the speech in its
technology universities. He correlated the degree
is a worthy endeavor with a historic potential
the context for a new center of discovery and
entirety, you may find it at www.kaust.edu.sa
of institutional effectiveness and impact on the
for Saudi Arabia and the world. As any worthy
innovation; and its collaborative, diverse, and
on the President’s Office page.
PetroBowl 2013 an Enriching Learning Experience for KAUST Students
students’ learning experiences, and also enabled the student chapters to earn credits to become distinguished student chapters. In the first round of the competition, the KAUST team competed against the team from North Dakota State University. Despite a good
Members of the KAUST Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)
Exhibition, the leading technical conference in the oil and gas
start, they lost to North Dakota State’s team, which advanced into the
student chapter, represented by KAUST students Klemens
exploration and production world.
Katterbauer, Sultan Safin, Ayrat Abdullin, and Ibrahim Gawish,
The KAUST team successfully qualified in April as the only SPE
The winning team was from the Colorado School of Mines, the
participated in the XII PetroBowl competition on September 30 in
student chapter from Saudi Arabia to secure one of the 36 spots
competition’s defending champion, with second place taken by the
New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
for the competition. Other participating teams came from leading
University of Texas.
PetroBowl pits SPE student chapters from universities around the world against each other to answer a series of technical and
worldwide universities, including Stanford, Texas A&M, TU Delft, and
“We learned a lot from the competition and the conference,” stated Katterbauer after the event. “We are really looking forward
the Colorado School of Mines.
non-technical quiz questions about the oil and gas industry. This
The day before the competition, SPE officers met to take part in
year the event was held at the Annual Technical Conference &
interactive sessions and tutorials. These helped enrich participating
to competing again in next year’s PetroBowl, which will be held in the Netherlands.”
ACCOLADES Former KAUST MS Student Shortlisted for 2013 ‘Young Engineer of the Year’
Badar Al Saadi
Badar Al Saadi, a 2009 master’s degree
Research & Development center as a Technical Service and Development
greatly honored to have been a finalist for the award. Working at Dow’s
graduate from the Chemical and Biological
Engineer for Refinery and Gas Processing. Although he did not win the
R&D center at KAUST has given me the opportunity to work closely with
Engineering program at KAUST, was
award, he was praised for the nomination by his manager at Dow, Henk
and learn from Dow’s world-class gas treating experts, which has been
shortlisted for the “Young Engineer of the
Pool, Director of R&D for Middle East and Africa.
instrumental in my growth as a professional. This accolade has served
“The engineers we recruit [at Dow] are of the highest caliber,” Pool stated.
Year” category at the Oil & Gas Middle East
“We selected Badar due to his outstanding academic achievement and
to further motivate me to leverage my skills and knowledge to become a leader in the region’s energy industry.”
Held in Abu Dhabi on October 9, the awards celebrated outstanding
knowledge in chemical engineering. Badar has made an excellent
“We are very pleased that our partnership with KAUST is
organizations, projects, and people in the upstream and downstream
transition from KAUST into Dow and has had an excellent start
producing the next generation of industry leaders,” Pool concluded.
industry. They attracted nominations from major corporations such
at Dow. He is a tremendous asset to the team and we are very
“Dow’s commitment to community development and supporting
as Saudi Aramco, GE, Maersk Oil, SABIC, and Eni.
pleased by this award nomination.”
local talent is one of the ways our organization is working to
Al Saadi is currently based at KAUST, where he works for Dow’s
Al Saadi also expressed his gratitude for the nomination, stating: “I am
address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”
fresh creative ideas on how to improve the organization.
MS Student Participates in 2013 Student Leadership Symposium
Sultan Safin, a master’s degree student in
Safin is an officer of the KAUST SEG Student Chapter, and
Earth Science & Engineering, was awarded
presented the chapter at the symposium. “I wanted to participate in
“GeoSlam,” a presentation competition for attending students,
a grant from Chevron to participate in the
the SLS to make our chapter more productive and to also become a
was a highlight of the event. Safin won GeoSlam and was awarded
2013 Society of Exploration Geophysicists
better leader,” he explained.
the golden special recognition pin from SEG.
(SEG)/Chevron Student Leadership Symposium (SLS).
During the program, students participated in a series of lectures,
Events like the SLS “are one of the best things we can do,” Safin
presentations, workshops, team competitions, and other activities
stated. “Through these, we … bring together new minds, fresh ideas,
The SLS took place during the SEG’s Annual Meeting in Houston,
to develop leadership and teambuilding skills. They also took part
and innovations for our industry. This will help us succeed today,
Texas, US, from September 21-26. Fifty students from SEG chapters
in a “Strategic Problem Solving Session” with the SEG’s Executive
guaranteeing a sustainable future for tomorrow.”
from 25 countries around the world attended the event.
Committee, contributing to the development of SEG by providing
Bacterial Footprint of Coral Reef Diseases | Continued from p1 Coral disease patterns mainly develop where
study. So we wanted to target the Indo-Pacific
human influences are heavily concentrated.
and Caribbean basins as well as the Red Sea,”
Different opinions also suggest that a single
says Prof. Voolstra.
pathogen is at the root cause of coral disease. It’s a
Because the Red Sea is very warm, it also serves
generally acknowledged fact that a concentrated
as good barometer for the study of how other coral
touristic environment, where higher incidences of
reefs from around the world will adapt to warming
coral disease are observed, will generate a high
temperatures in years to come. As Prof. Voolstra
level of harmful bacteria, such as from a hotel’s
explains, “The Red Sea experiences conditions that
sewage system. Such factors as higher ocean
are projected to be at other places in the year 2100.
temperature, sewage, and human affluence all
So we assume it’s a natural laboratory or test tube
contribute to increase coral disease incidents.
for what we are going to see in other places. If one
On the other hand, the Red Sea corals along
wants to understand the sustainability or resilience
the shores of Saudi Arabia are remarkably well
of corals in other places, the Red Sea is indeed the
preserved. A major reason for this is that Saudi
perfect place to start a study.”
Arabia’s coastlines have remained undisturbed due to the absence of major international tourism infrastructures. While urban population impacts
Future Applications of Comparative Study
on coral reefs can be observed around the Jeddah region, Saudi Arabia’s reefs are mostly still in
Looking ahead at future projects and applications,
pristine condition. "This is good because these
Prof. Voolstra explained: "Our next step is to sample
corals can serve as a baseline for other studies,"
different coral species from all over the world,
says Prof. Voolstra.
collect the diseased species that show the same signs
For this reason, Prof. Voolstra and one of his PhD students, Chatchanit Arif, travelled to
of disease and then look at the underlying bacterial communities the corals are associated with.”
Thailand to collect samples of diseased corals.
Prof. Voolstra aims to eventually develop a
Prof. Voolstra is also finishing a study in Puerto
marine health chip to monitor coral diseases
Rico. These research findings cover two large
through the use of the technology of 16S rRNA gene
bodies of water: the Indo-Pacific basin and the
microarrays he applied for his comparative study.
Caribbean basin. One of the objectives is to
Such a long-term monitoring device can be useful,
then apply this knowledge to the Red Sea. “Our
for example, to government agencies as they assess
research was always laid out as comparative
the environmental impacts on coral reefs.
،فإذا أراد أحد دراسة استدامة أو مرونة الشعاب المرجانية فإن البحر األحمر في الواقع هو المكان المثالي لبدء مثل ." هذه الدراسة يقول البرفسور فولستر في مطلع حديثه عن تطلعاته والتطبيقات المستوحاة من هذه،ومشاريعه المستقبلية " خطوتنا التالية هي أخذ عينات من مختلف:الدراسة وجمع األنواع،الشعاب المرجانية في جميع أنحاء العالم المصابة بالمرض التي تظهر عليها نفس االعراض المرضية ." وبعد ذلك ننظر في المجتمعات البكتيرية المرتبطة بها 16S rRNA gene وفي سعيه لالستفادة من تقنية يهدف، التي طبقها في دراسته المقارنةmicroarrays البرفسور فولسترا في نهاية المطاف إلى تطوير شريحة اليكترونية لمراقبة األمراض المرجانية ورصدها لفترة طويلة وتقييم اآلثار البيئية على الشعاب المرجانية والتي يمكن أن تستفيد منها جهات معينة مثل .الوكاالت والهيئات الحكومية
:تتمة الصفحة األولى ولهذا السبب سافر البرفسور فولسترا مع أحد طالبه لدرجة تشاتشانيت عارف إلى تايالند لجمع عينات من،الدكتوراه كما انتهى أيضًا من.الشعب المرجانية المصابة بالمرض دراسة بحثية أخرى في بورتوريكو شملت دراسة المحيط وأحد أهداف.الهندي والهادي وحوض البحر الكاريبي الدراسة هو تطبيق النتائج والمعلومات التي تم التوصل يقول البرفسور فولسترا " تعمدنا.اليها على البحر األحمر أن تكون أبحاثنا بصورة دراسة مقارنة بين المحيط الهندي ." فضال عن البحر األحمر،والهادي وحوض البحر الكاريبي تكيف ّ فإنه مناسب لدراسة،ًوألن البحر األحمر دافئ جدا الشعاب المرجانية األخرى من جميع أنحاء العالم على كما أوضح.ظاهرة االحتباس الحراري في السنوات القادمة "يمر البحر األحمر اآلن: البرفسور فولسترا ذلك بقوله بظروف من المتوقع أن تحدث في أماكن أخرى في العالم أو بمثابة،ً ولهذا نعتبره مختبرًا طبيعيا.2100 في عام .أنبوبة اختبار لما قد يحصل في بحار أخرى في المستقبل
A Primer on Molecular Biology
The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine provides an example of how these fields are related to each other. Yale's Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences James E. Rothman, UC Berkeley's Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology
How we understand life at its most fundamental level
Randy W. Schekman, and Stanford's Professor of Molecular and
Advances in molecular biology impact our lives in many ways.
has helped elucidate the inner workings of the cell’s transport
For example, molecular biology has been vital in shaping the
system, which uses vesicles, small, membrane-bound “bubbles,”
latest progress in preventive medicine and vaccine production;
as packaging for molecules to be transported within and outside
pinpointing the accuracy of drug treatment and delivery; and
the cell. Their discoveries have shed light on how cells use their
engineering plants that are drought and salt tolerant.
cargo system to precisely deliver molecules to the right place at
Molecular biologists study living things at the most basic,
Cellular Physiology Thomas C. Südhof were jointly awarded
the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Their research
the right time.
molecular level, which forms the foundation of life. Because there
Their collective research in the fields of cellular and molecular
are not defined lines separating the related disciplines of molecular
biology and cellular physiology provides a wealth of evidence for
biology, biochemistry, and genetics, molecular biologists employ a
a new model of traffic inside a cell. The model offers scientists
wide range of techniques common to all these fields to carry out
a way to predict and even influence that traffic. This is of major
importance for different physiological processes where correct
At KAUST, the interdisciplinary nature of this study is celebrated.
Molecular biology is the study of the molecular underpinnings of the processes of replication, transcription, and translation
control of vesicle transport and fusion is critical; if it goes wrong,
a number of diseases can result, such as nervous and immune
Relationship to other biological sciences
system disorders and diabetes. Fig. 1: The central dogma is the passage of information from DNA to RNA to protein through the processes of replication, transcription, and translation.
Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
of the genetic material, and other areas of cellular function.
In addition to health and medicine, molecular biology
Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in humans; this
The central dogma of molecular biology illustrates the flow of
techniques have applications in agriculture. These techniques
vitamin is essential for humans, and vitamin A deficiency-
genetic information from DNA to RNA to protein (see Fig. 1).
can be used in combination with genetic engineering to produce
related diseases affect hundreds of thousands of children in developing countries each year.
Biochemistry is the study of the chemical substances and
new traits in crops. The science behind engineered crops exhibits
vital processes occurring in living organisms. Biochemists study
the benefits of these crops’ drought tolerance and increased
the role, function, and structure of biomolecules, including the
yield, and a reduced need for pesticide use, for example.
chemistry behind biological processes and the synthesis of
The co-inventor of Golden Rice, Professor Ingo Potrykus will visit KAUST as part of the upcoming 2014 Winter Enrichment
Genetic engineering can also be used to produce biofortified
Program (WEP). The WEP program, running from January
crops like Golden Rice. Golden Rice, a new variety of Oryza sativa
12 – 30, will host a keynote lecture by Prof. Potrykus as part of
Genetics is the study of the effect of organisms’ genetic
rice, has genes inserted into the rice genome which cause the
its celebration of the UN International Year of Family Farming.
differences. Geneticists scrutinize the function and composition
production and accumulation of beta-carotene in the grain
Look for more details about his lecture in forthcoming issues
of genes and study organisms’ genomes.
(edible part) of rice, producing the grains’ “golden” color.
of The Beacon!
biologically active molecules.
Collaborative Work on Stress-Tolerant Crop Plants drought, heat, high salt, and the effects of bacteria and viruses,”
N-terminally truncated SE protein to stimulate DCL1 activity
says Prof. Hamdan. Understanding miRNA biogenesis is very
suggests that it does so directly and that RNA binding is not
important because “it could greatly contribute to modifying crop
required for this stimulation,” the researchers state.
plants to confer stress tolerance, leading to an increase in crop yields and productivity.” Prof. Fedoroff’s lab developed the first in vitro miRNA processing system, starting with outlining the genetic definition of miRNA
Profs. Nina Fedoroff and Samir Hamdan
manner,” Prof. Hamdan says. “We propose that this could provide a potential point for regulation of miRNA processing.” He and his team were “surprised with the complexity of the
molecular characterization with Prof. Fedoroff,” Prof. Hamdan states.
interaction of SE with RNA and DCL1 because it involves RNA-
The researchers examined miRNA production in Arabidopsis
promoted protein conformational changes and switches,” he says.
thaliana, a model plant often used in molecular genetics studies. In
“This tells us that decoding the molecular mechanism of miRNA
Arabidopsis, the production of miRNA is controlled by an enzyme
biogenesis is going to be difficult and exciting future research.”
called DICER-LIKE 1 (DCL1) and two other proteins, HYPONASTIC
professors Samir Hamdan, Assistant Professor of Bioscience, and
LEAVES 1 (HYL1) and SERRATE (SE).
Nina Fedoroff, Distinguished Professor of Bioscience, has resulted
By examining the mechanism that produces primary miRNA (pri-
in a paper published recently in the journal Nucleic Acids Research
miRNA), the precursor of miRNA, the researchers discovered that SE
is integral to the processing of pri-miRNA by DCL1.
crop plants to better tolerate stressful conditions.
SE becomes integral for DCL1 activity in a substrate-specific
processing pathways. “I feel very fortunate to work on miRNA’s
A significant collaboration between the labs of KAUST
gkt667.full.pdf). The paper describes research that could help modify
“Our work shows that under physiologically relevant conditions,
“SE is a conserved gene that plays a critical role in the biogenesis
“This research could greatly contribute to modifying crop plants to confer stress tolerance, leading to an increase in crop yields and productivity.” – Prof. Hamdan
of miRNA in both plants and animals,” says Prof. Hamdan. “In our
“In collaboration with Prof. Fedoroff’s lab, my lab started a major
study we have provided the first characterization of the interactions
Collaboration with Prof. Fedoroff’s lab is important because
initiative two years ago to significantly increase our contribution to
of SE with RNA and with DCL1 and the mechanism by which SE
it brings together two “powerful complementary experimental
the University’s four main research thrusts of food, water, energy,
promotes the activity of DCL1.”
approaches at KAUST,” says Prof. Hamdan. Prof. Fedoroff’s
and the environment,” explains Prof. Hamdan. Prof. Hamdan
By using highly purified proteins, the researchers found that DCL1
lab provides expertise in growing plant suspension cells and
and his team began investigating the biogenesis at the molecular
cleaves pri-miRNA, but SE “substantially enhances” the processing
conducting plant genetics and cell biology studies, while Prof.
level of a specific type of RNA (ribonucleic acid) called microRNA
of the pri-miRNA, interacting directly with DCL1 and RNA. SE
Hamdan’s lab “is expert in applying unique approaches that
(miRNA) in plants.
mainly interacts with RNA using its conserved N-terminal region,
combine conventional biochemical and biophysical techniques
the end of the protein that terminates in a free amine (-NH2) group,
with the real-time observation of single molecule imaging
with “minimal contribution” from other regions.
techniques to study the mechanisms of nucleic acid-binding
In cells, genetic information is “transcribed” from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) to messenger RNA (mRNA), and is then “translated” into proteins, which carry out certain functions. miRNAs
“Both SE’s N-terminal region and its conserved zinc finger
are short, non-coding RNA sequences that function by binding
domain, a protein structural motif, are required for the interaction
In the future, Prof. Hamdan hopes that he and his team will be
to specific sequences in “target” mRNAs, acting to regulate their
of SE with DCL1 in the absence of RNA,” explains Prof. Hamdan.
able to provide molecular images of miRNA biogenesis at the single
translation and usually silencing them.
When DCL1 is bound to RNA, only SE lacking its N-terminal
molecule level with high spatial and temporal resolution. Then they
“miRNA is central throughout plant development and in a number
sequence can bind to DCL1 to stimulate processing, but if SE
may be able to fully “decode what appears to be a highly complex
of responses to stressful environments, including responses to
lacks its zinc finger domain, it cannot bind. “[T]he ability of the
and dynamic mechanism,” he states.
multiprotein complexes,” he explains.
Prof. Liming Xiong and colleagues examine plants grown in the laboratory at KAUST.
Controlling Plant Stress Response and Stress Tolerance “Plants cannot talk,” says Liming Xiong, Associate Professor of Bioscience. “So how do you
RS41, in the nuclear speckles. HOS5’s correct subnuclear localization depends on FRY2/CPL1;
know whether they are happy or stressed?”
If FRY2/CPL1 is absent or non-functional, HOS5 is mislocalized to the nucleoplasm. Through
Prof. Xiong and his colleagues Tao Chen, Peng Cui, Hao Chen, Shahjahan Ali, and Shudong
genome-wide RNA sequencing, the researchers also found that the interactions of HOS5, FRY2/
Zhang from the Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering examined
CPL1, and the two splicing factors regulate the pre-mRNA processing and splicing of stress-
this question in a paper recently published in the journal PLoS Genetics (http://www.plosgenetics.
When the researchers examined hos5 mutants under salt stress conditions, they found that
“Plants, like humans, do respond to stress by activating the expression of many stress-responsive
mRNA export from the nucleus was affected and excessive mRNA accumulated in the cells’ nuclei.
genes,” Prof. Xiong explains. “Products produced from these genes can mitigate the damage
Mutations in both hos5 and the CTD phosphatase caused the mis-splicing of stress-responsive
produced by stressful conditions and enhance stress tolerance. The
genes, affecting the plants’ stress tolerance. RNA-seq analyses of the
response is highly regulated, and the accurate processing of the
“Understanding how plants sense expressed genes is critical for plant stress resistance. Understanding stress and activate stress responsive how plants sense stress and activate stress responsive genes is genes is instrumental for bioengineering instrumental for bioengineering stress-resistant crop plants.” stress-resistant crop plants.” Through studying the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, the - Prof. Xiong
mutants under salt stress showed retention of introns, nucleotides that are
researchers identified a protein called HOS5 (High Osmotic Stress
splicing factors and RNA-binding proteins. These help in the regulation
Gene Expression 5) that binds to RNA (ribonucleic acid). HOS5 is
of the processing of transcripts that deal with different stresses in the
a type of protein called a K homology (KH)-domain RNA-binding protein which “plays important roles in stress gene regulation and stress tolerance,” the researchers state.
removed by splicing before a final RNA product is produced. Results of the study show that HOS5 is a “novel factor involved in splicing and stress response,” state the researchers. They believe that FRY2/ CPL1 may assist in the recruitment of RNA processing factors such as
environment (such as salt stress, for example). “We were surprised to discover that several seemingly unrelated protein components in stress
In the plant cell, HOS5 localizes to nuclear speckles, nuclear domains where splicing factors that
signal transduction all came together in this study,” says Prof. Xiong. “We discovered not only
“splice” pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) are stored and modified. In cells, genetic information
several important regulators of plant stress signaling and stress tolerance, but our results also
flows from DNA to RNA to protein, and the maturation process of messenger RNA (mRNA) in the
showed us that there may be an unexpected role of CTD phosphatase in co-transcriptional pre-
nucleus is an important step in the eventual production of proteins.
mRNA processing. This role may also apply in other organisms, as well.”
The researchers discovered that HOS5 interacts with FIERY2/RNA polymerase II (RNAP
Prof. Xiong and his team hope that the study will “help people see how smart plants are, and how
II) carboxyl terminal domain (CTD) phosphatase-like 1, or FRY2/CPL1. RNA polymerase is an
advances in technology have enabled us to make plants ‘tell’ us about their ‘feelings’ under stress
important enzyme in the process of transcription, during which RNA is produced from DNA. “This
conditions such as drought and salt stress,” he states. In addition, he notes that knowledge of the
interaction is mediated by the first double-stranded RNA-binding domain of FRY2/CPL1 and the
importance of posttranscriptional processing of stress-responsive genes will enable the researchers
KH domains of HOS5,” state the researchers.
to “develop new approaches to engineer plant stress resistance in the future.”
Both HOS5 and FRY2/CPL1 were found to interact with two novel splicing factors, RS40 and
Workshop on Seawater Intakes and Outfalls
environmental issues with people from other academic and research institutions.” For instance, Prof. Bleninger specializes in the design and modeling of outfalls in the environment. This aspect examines the process through which power plants or desalination plants outflow water back into the ocean. As water drawn in to cool power plants, the resulting outflow returns heated water to the ocean, which can be harmful to the marine environment. On the other hand, the outflow of desalination plants returns heavily concentrated brine extracted from the
Two of KAUST’s research centers, the Red Sea Research Center and the Water Desalination and
intake seawater back into the ocean.
Reuse Center, recently collaborated to host a workshop on seawater intakes and outfalls. The
“That’s why in some places around the world desalination plants are put right next to power
workshop, which focused on intake and outfall processes for both water desalination and wastewater
plants,” Prof. Jones explains. “The advantage of a desalination plant working with a power plant
management, was attended by an international group of 13 academic and industry specialists,
is that the brine discharge can be mixed with the heated discharge. It’s a way to disperse the water
including three keynote speakers: Prof. Tobia Bleninger from Federal University of Paran´a in Brazil,
in hopefully a more effective way,” he adds.
Prof. Philip Roberts from Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dr. Donald Anderson, who works as senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US. Prof. Burton Jones from the BESE Division’s Marine Science program explained that the workshop “brought together people who are working in industry on designs, technology, and
The primary advantage and potential result of the recent Seawater Intakes and Outfalls Workshop is that it brought together people from academia and industry who may not typically work with each other, but whose fields of expertise, when merged together, can lead to improvements in current water treatment approaches.
From Food Scraps to organic mulch
to Phothe of nth mo
The proper disposal of food waste is a
To optimize use and share best practice
major environmental challenge for many
methodologies, the Environmental team has been
communities around the world. In light of
in contact with the University at Buffalo, New
limited recycling infrastructure within the
York (US) as it has deployed a similar FWDM.
region, this has also been a challenge for KAUST Waste Management Services.
The FWDM uses a combination of metal rotating blades and high temperatures to
In May, KAUST Facilities and Community
physically break down the food waste, remove
deployed the Food Waste Dehydration Machine
moisture, and reduce the overall volume by
(FWDM), an environmentally friendly technology
that can treat up to 200 kg of food waste in one
As the temperature in the machine reaches a
12-hour cycle. This creates approximately 30 kg
peak of 180˚F, any harmful bacteria are removed
of nutrient-rich, organic, mulch-like material.
to ensure a safe, dry, dark, mulch-like material
“The use of this technology demonstrates the
rich in organics and nutrients is produced every
University’s commitment to sustainability,” says
12 hours. This material is then used on KAUST
Dr. Mohamed Omar, KAUST’s Environmental
plants and flowers.
Protection Manager. “We would like our
Soft Services Specialist Mohammed Al Shawaf,
Raghu Jana, a postdoctoral fellow in the Numerical Porous Media SRI Center, captured this
community to be a living laboratory of
who is responsible for managing the FWDM,
photo of lighting found across the parks within our community. “I was drawn to these globes
environmental well-being. The deployment of
notes that 4,400 kg of food waste was recovered
because they look like replicas of planets. I was amazed at how much it resembles the moon.”
the FWDM is in line with the recently approved
over a three week period. This generated
University Environmental Stewardship Policy. We
approximately 900 kg of soil enhancement
are not only thinking about recycling, as waste
material. “By deploying technologies such as the
minimization and avoidance are key elements of
FWDM,” says Al Shawaf, “KAUST will soon lead
KAUST’s Environmental Stewardship approach.”
the recycling sector within the Kingdom.”
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‘Music Friends’ Gather to Enjoy First Sunset Concert of Fall Semester A large group of KAUST community members turned out to hear beautiful music performed by the University’s talented musicians at the first Sunset Concert of the 2013-14 academic year, which was held in the University Library on September 29. The concert featured performances by KAUST MS and PhD students, faculty members, staff, and teachers from the KAUST Schools (TKS). They presented works including classical pieces by Antonin Dvorák, Franz Schubert, and Giovanni Pergolesi. Master’s student
KAUST’s talented Sunset Concert musicians pose after the concert on September 29.
Istikiantsoa Randrianantenaina from the Electrical Engineering program sang Pergolesi’s baroque aria, Se tu m’ami, se sospiri, accompanied by David Keyes, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science, on the piano.
Musicians also treated the audience to several pieces with a more contemporary, world-music flair.
of the lute family, and sang an original composition called “Still Waiting.”
“I am really excited about the musical opportunities at KAUST,”
Yuxin Chen, an MS student from the Computer Science program,
“The Sunset Concert is the most joyful and relaxing moment of
said new community member and K2 Teacher Melanie Agustina,
and Andrew Yip, a PhD student from Applied Mathematics and
the month for me,” said Steffi Guan, a PhD student in the Center
who performed J.C. Schultze’s Suite No 1 in F Major with Wendy
Computational Science, performed “Summer,” a violin and piano
for Desert Agriculture. Guan performed Dvorák’s Slavonic Dance,
Keyes, Coordinator of Arts Programming, and Eduardo Regula, TKS
piece from the 1999 Japanese movie Kikujirô no natsu. Marcos
op. 72, no. 2 with Prof. Keyes on the piano. “I enjoy nothing more
ECC Performing Arts Teacher. “I look forward to more opportunities
Bracchitta, English Language and Writing Specialist from Graduate
than performing with music friends and sharing music with the
to perform in the future,” Agustina said.
Affairs, played the charango, a small Andean stringed instrument
community during the beautiful sunset.”
My University Claire Morris
Although not a "founder" of KAUST, Claire explains, “As many
He first heard about KAUST from his MS thesis supervisor, Dr.
Claire first arrived at KAUST in May 2010
‘early birds’ will probably reiterate, we all feel a great sense of joy,
Andrea Fratalocchi, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, who
and currently works as a Technical Writer with
ownership, and protection towards KAUST; just cycling to and from
invited him to visit the University and suggested he become a PhD
the Planning Office team in the Facilitates and
work every day on roads that were not built, living in a house that was
still just a drawing, working in a building that was just a shell when
“On my first visit to KAUST, I was stunned by the beauty of
Before coming to KAUST, Claire was working in London. Although she
I first started – to now, stuns me at times. The progress of KAUST to
the place and by the incredible resources provided to students and
was born in England, she spent her childhood in Nigeria and Namibia,
date is nothing but remarkable and this is down to every individual,
researchers,” Juan says. “I immediately realized that the University
and has lived and worked in Australia and Thailand. When asked about
every hour, every thought of us all.
and the PRIMALIGHT group led by Prof. Fratalocchi were the perfect
her move to Saudi Arabia, she shares, “I have always been curious about
“Overall, KAUST is a living, breathing entity that is the standard
Saudi Arabia and its people. This was the perfect opportunity for me to
bearer for the ‘one-world’ philosophy, living proof that borders and
Since beginning his studies at KAUST in September 2012, Juan
meet and immerse myself in the fascinating traditions of the country, as
nationalities are irrelevant when the goals are noble and global. My
has been researching phenomena involving light propagation in
well as be part of such a unique and groundbreaking center of learning.”
experiences at KAUST and the wonderful friends that I have made will
complex and disordered systems. He hopes his work, which involves
always remain with me.”
collaborations with researchers from other top universities in the
Since her arrival, Claire has also embarked on her own learning journey and credits KAUST for “unleashing an otherwise undiscovered passion for learning.” She is enrolled in a distance learning master’s program through York University, UK. On campus, Claire notes that she has tried new things that she would have never considered back in the UK, from sailing (and screaming at each turn), to paddle boarding, to
combination for a successful and enriching PhD program.”
world, will result in a number of high-impact journal publications in
Juan Sebastian Totero Gongora
the near future. Juan has been most impressed with the Arab culture and hospitality he has encountered in Saudi Arabia, which he says “are precious, and I will keep them forever in my heart.” He also
joining the photo club, and "spinning!" “The common denominator for
Born in Colombia, Juan Sebastian Totero Gongora
appreciates the international community at KAUST, which has
each has been and always will be great friends and laughter - lots and
grew up in Italy, graduating from Sapienza University in Rome in
allowed him to “get in touch with so many different cultures and
lots of laughter!”
2012 with an MS degree in Theoretical Physics.
people from all over the world.”
Published on Nov 19, 2013