King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
BEACON املنـارة at Thuwal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
January 2014 / Safar - Rabi Al-Awwal 1435 Volume 4, Issue No. 5
خالد الفاحل متحدثا عن روح االبتكار بني جامعة امللك عبداهلل وأرامكو السعودية يف افتتاح برنامج اإلثراء 2014 ) لعامwep( الشتوي السنوي
Innovation is not just a matter of the most powerful electron microscopes or most sophisticated nanotechnology clean room; it’s about scientists and researchers collaborating to turn abstract ideas and theories into transformative solutions.”
Khalid Al-Falih Highlights KAUST-Saudi Aramco Spirit of Innovation in WEP Opening Keynote Address
– Khalid Al-Falih
Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco President and
However, as he became closely involved
CEO, spoke on January 12 at the opening of the
with KAUST, he realized that the University
5th annual Winter Enrichment Program (WEP).
“was not just a construction project, but a gift”
In his keynote address to KAUST faculty,
– an opportunity to construct a cutting-edge
students, staff, and members of the community,
research institution “comparable to the world’s
Al-Falih outlined his own and Saudi Aramco’s
elite universities…laying the foundation for the
deep connections with KAUST. He also discussed
Kingdom of the future.”
the University and Saudi Aramco’s roles in
“KAUST is a new institution with a global role…
directing science, technology, and innovation to
but at the same time it has deep roots in an earlier
“meet challenges and seize opportunities” for the
era, when our region led the way in progress and
benefit of the Kingdom and the world.
innovation,” Al-Falih noted. He described the
Al-Falih described his journey with KAUST
impact of the Bayt al-Hikma, “the world’s first
from the University’s conception in 2006, when
great House of Wisdom established more than
he received a call to assist with building a
a millennium ago” in Baghdad, and how its
“flagship research university for Saudi Arabia.”
scientists and researchers’ work “forever changed
Although his initial response was exhilaration,
the world in which they lived.” KAUST, the new
he remembered asking himself: “How do you do
House of Wisdom, has the same mission, he said.
the impossible” – build a “fully-fledged, global
Al-Falih noted Saudi Aramco and KAUST
research university…in three years?”
are leaders in transforming the Kingdom into a
فهي فرصة كبيرة لقيام مؤسسة أبحاث،" األمر هدية وتضع... متطورة " تنافس الجامعات الرائدة في العالم ." حجر األساس لمستقبل المملكة واشار الفالح الى أن جامعة الملك عبداهلل هي مؤسسة إال أنها في نفس الوقت.علمية حديثة بتوجه عالمي لها جذورا تاريخية منذ العصر القديم عندما كانت ثم تحدث.منطقتنا هي رائدة طريق التقدم واالبتكار عن رسالة أول بيت للحكمة وكيف أنه تأسس منذ وكيف عمل علماؤه وباحثيه،عدة قرون في بغداد وقال.بتفان وإخالص لتغيير العالم الذين يعيشون فيه " إن الجامعة هي بيت الحكمة الجديد وتحمل نفس كما أشاد بدور شركة أرامكو السعودية."الرسالة وجامعة الملك عبداهلل بكونهما رواد تحويل اقتصاد بما يملكانه.المملكة إلى اقتصاد قائم على المعرفة ، والتقنيات،من توجهات مشتركة لدعم األبحاث والمواهب األكثر تأثيرا والضرورية لتحفيز النمو ومواجهة،االقتصادي وتنويعه وإحداث فرص العمل .التحديات في المملكة العربية السعودية والعالم وذكر الفالح أن أرامكو السعودية قد وظفت حاليًا
في كلمته التي ألقاها على أعضاء هيئة التدريس وطلبة وموظفي وأعضاء مجتمع الجامعة في افتتاح ،2014 ) لعامWEP ( برنامج اإلثراء الشتوي السنوي رئيس أرامكو السعودية، تحدث المهندس خالد الفالح وكبير اإلداريين التنفيذيين عن مدى ارتباطه الشخصي وارتباط شركة أرامكو السعودية الوثيق بجامعة الملك كما ناقش دور الجامعة و.عبد اهلل للعلوم والتقنية " واالبتكار،أرامكو السعودية في توجيه العلم والتقنية لمواجهة التحديات واستغالل الفرص " لصالح المملكة .العربية السعودية والعالم ووصف الفالح رحلته مع الجامعة منذ نشأتها في عندما تلقى مكالمة للتعاون في انشاء،م2006 عام .جامعة أبحاث رائدة في المملكة العربية والسعودية ورغم أن رد فعله األول على االتصال كان الشعور إال أنه تساءل بعد ذلك" كيف نصنع،بالبهجة ... المستحيل؟ أن ننشأ جامعة أبحاث عالمية رائدة ."في ثالث سنوات فقط؟ ادرك، ومع المشاركة بشكل وثيق مع الجامعة،ولكن بل أنها في واقع-أنها " ليست مشروع بناء فقط 3 تتمه صفحة
Khalid Al-Falih | Continued on p3
President Jean-Lou Chameau participates in 7th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum Saudi and international experts, including
Participating on a panel focused on fostering
KAUST President Jean-Lou Chameau,
entrepreneurship and catalyzing innovation,
gathered at the Global Competitiveness
President Chameau shared his thoughts on
Forum (GCF) held in Riyadh on January
enabling the scale-up of successful ideas and
18-20, 2014. Focusing on the theme of
leveraging technology for entrepreneurship.
“ B u i l d i n g C o m p e t i t i v e Pa r t n e r s h i p s , ”
“I believe an integral part of a successful
the forum convened Saudi government
innovation ecosystem includes the role of
ministers, international business leaders,
science and technology universities. These
and academics from other top institutions to
universities not only educate a highly
discuss global and regional trends in business
qualified workforce to support industry, but
competitiveness and the development of a
also lead innovation and create new industries
world class infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
themselves,” he said. “Research universities promote and
“The university climate for innovation serves as a catalyst for a parallel supportive environment in the local ecosystem.” -President Chameau
leverage the co-existence of curiosity-driven research and more focused goal-driven research, which turn scientific discoveries into products, technologies, and processes,” President Chameau continued. “The university climate for innovation serves as a catalyst for
رئيس اجلامعة يتحدث عن دعم االبتكار يف منتدى التنافسية الدويل السابع
From left to right: John Quelch, Charles E Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard; President Chameau; Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Chairman of Aramex; and Daniel Isenburg, Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice and founding director, Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project.
أكد الدكتور جان – لو شامو رئيس جامعة الملك عبداهلل للعلوم والتقنية أن "جامعات العلوم والتقنية هي جزء مهم إذ أن دور هذه الجامعات ال ينحصر في تثقيف القوى العاملة وتأهيلها تأهيال جيدًا لدعم،من بيئة االبتكار الناجحة كما أنها تعزز وتستفيد من الوجود المشترك بين. بل يتعدى ذلك إلى دعم االبتكار وانشاء صناعات جديدة،الصناعة وبالتالي تقدم لنا بيئة فريدة يمكن عبرها،األبحاث التي تدفعها المعرفة واألبحاث الموجهة نحو تحقيق هدف معين ونحن في جامعة الملك عبداهلل نسعى جاهدين للمشاركة في شبكة.تحويل االكتشافات العلمية إلى منتجات وتقنيات ."ابتكارات أكبر وأكثر تأثيرا جاء ذلك أثناء حديثه عن رفع مستوى األفكار الناجحة واالستفادة من التقنية لتعزيز ريادة األعمال في حلقة نقاشية حول 2 تتمه صفحة
GCF | Continued on p2
Food & Farming 4-5
In January, the KAUST community celebrated the success of the fifth annual Winter
Discover Saudi Arabia: The Hejaz Railway photography exhibition. Both events reminded the
Enrichment Program (WEP), which brought a host of renowned global thinkers, leaders,
community of the rich history and culture of the country in which we work and live.
scientists, and even a polar explorer to the campus to deliver presentations and talks about
On pages 6 and 7 of this issue, papers published in the prestigious journals Small, Nature Asia Materials, and Genome Biology highlight KAUST’s recent research.
their work. Saudi Arabia’s heritage and diversity were also on display during WEP through a farmer’s market at Discovery Square, which showcased many unique Saudi products, and through the
In this issue, join us in celebrating not only the successes of WEP, but also the beginning of a new and exciting year for research, innovation, and diversity at KAUST. —THE BEACON Editorial
The Beacon, Volume 4, Issue 5, January 2014. Published by The Communications Department, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia. Contact Salah Sindi email@example.com, or Michelle D'Antoni firstname.lastname@example.org © King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Printed on partially recycled paper.
KAUST, SAGIA, KACST, and Emaar Sign Agreement to Support Entrepreneurs
“I started the QCI with the aim of introducing the topic to the KAUST research community,” says Dr. Radovanovic. “Quantum computing is not a simple advancement from classical computing; it is instead a new way of approaching and solving problems – a new way of thinking. It will allow us to not only solve difficult tasks, but will also open up exciting areas of research and insights into many fields of science and engineering.” For more information, visit the QCI website at www.cbrc.kaust.edu.sa/qci
Clean Combustion Workshop and Center Opening The Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) will host a workshop from February 17-19, gathering global experts in the area of clean combustion science and technology to showcase current state-of-the-art research in the combustion field. The conference coincides with the official opening of the CCRC, with its Participating in the signing (from left to right) was Fahd bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Rasheed, CEO and Managing Director of Emaar; Abdullatif Al-Othman, Governor and Chairman of SAGIA; Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel, President of KACST; and KAUST President Chameau.
entire laboratory facilities commissioned for operation. The CCRC is based on the interdisciplinary nature of combustion research, with expertise in experiments, modeling, chemistry, and physics, and thus the conference is structured in a similar manner. The conference covers the latest developments in underlying physical and chemical phenomena affecting flame structure, emissions formation, autoignition, and engine operation, as well as numerical simulations for modeling combustion chemistry and physics using high performance computing
An agreement to encourage scientific and high-tech entrepreneurs was signed by KAUST, Saudi
resources. Growing research areas of the CCRC will also be covered during the conference, including
Arabian Investment Authority (SAGIA), King Abdullah City for Science and Technology (KACST),
advanced engine research, flame synthesis of nano-materials, utilization of low-grade fuels, next
and Emaar on January 19.
generation gas turbines, advanced diagnostics techniques, and high-pressure turbulent combustion.
This quadrilateral agreement, which was signed on the sidelines of the Seventh Global
Visit http://ccrc.kaust.edu.sa for details.
Competitiveness Forum held in Riyadh, is intended to pave the way for collaborative efforts to develop and support technical innovation and entrepreneurship across the Kingdom.
Center for Uncertainty Quantification Workshop Examines Advances in Field
“Is the Brain a Quantum Computer?” Lecture Examines Brain Function and Consciousness
KAUST Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computation Science Raul Tempone and Omar
Dr. Aleksandar Radovanovic, Research Scientist at KAUST’s Computational Bioscience Research
Quantification in Computational Science & Engineering (SRI UQ Center), hosted a workshop focusing on
Center (CBRC) and founder of the Quantum Computing Initiative (QCI), presented a talk on quantum
“Advances in Uncertainty Quantification Methods, Algorithms, and Applications” (UQAW 2014) at the
computational modeling of the brain on January 12.
University from January 6-10.
Knio, Deputy Director of the KAUST Strategic Research Initiative in the SRI – Center for Uncertainty
The QCI is an open and informal group that began in the CBRC in 2012. Group members have
Topics discussed at the workshop included uncertainty quantification methods and algorithms, their
an interest in following and contributing to the area of quantum computing. Anyone from the
verification and validation, and their application to problems in computation science and engineering.
KAUST community is welcome to join.
A number of visiting professors from international universities also attended the workshop to give
Dr. Radovanovic’s lecture, entitled “Quantum Computational Model of a Brain: Is the Brain
a Quantum Computer?,” examined whether a synergy of biology, mathematics, quantum
The SRI UQ Center’s mission is to advance state-of-the-art research in uncertainty quantification and
mechanics, and computer science has the possibility of bringing us closer to understanding
verification and validation methods, software, and algorithms. Its work also focuses on high-impact
how the brain really functions. In the lecture, he presented theories on mechanisms of brain
research applications, including green wireless communications, complex multi-scale electromagnetic
functioning from a multidisciplinary angle, adding complexity to existing models of the brain.
systems, and reactive computational fluid dynamics.
:تتمة الصفحة األولى
GCF | Continued from p1 a parallel supportive environment in the local ecosystem. At KAUST, we strive to engage in the larger, more influential and impactful innovation network.” To date, KAUST’s pathway for the commercialization of emerging technologies has resulted in over 300 patents filed and the launch of six startups. Current projects include novel solutions relating to solar energy, crowd management, air purification, and clean water. “KAUST is one of the region’s first research universities to build an integrated economic development and technology commercialization program designed around the principles of open innovation. This commitment to the development of entrepreneurial and innovative activities that promote industry collaboration goes hand-in-hand with the vision of GCF,” stated President Chameau. For the first time since its inception, GCF also included a platform to highlight investment opportunities in the Kingdom. The “Invest in Saudi” exhibition showcased an informationsharing marketplace for potential investors in Saudi Arabia, furthering the development of successful international trade partnerships Founded in 2006 by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), GCF is a platform to promote dialogue about the positive impact organizational and national competitiveness can have on local, regional, and global economic and social development. It has grown into one of the largest and important annual gatherings in the region for generating real solutions to contemporary global challenges.
" جامعة الملك: ووصف الدكتور شامو الجامعة بقوله عبداهلل هي من أولى جامعات األبحاث في المنطقة التي لديها برنامج متكامل للتنمية االقتصادية .وتسويق التقنية يتمحور حول مبدأ االبتكار المفتوح وهذا االلتزام في تطوير أنشطة ريادة المشاريع متوافق تمامًا،واالبتكارات وتعزيز التعاون الصناعي ." مع رسالة منتدى التنافسية الدولي وشهد منتدى التنافسية الدولي للمرة األولى تنظيم معرض (استثمر في السعودية) الذي يهدف إلى إبراز مقومات فرص االستثمار التي تزخر بها مناطق المملكة في مختلف القطاعات وتعزيز تطوير .الشراكات التجارية الدولية الناجحة من2006 تأسس منتدى التنافسية الدولي في عام ،)SAGIA( قبل الهيئة العامة لالستثمار السعودي كمنبر للحوار حول األثر اإليجابي للتنافسية التنظيمية والوطنية على التنمية االقتصادية واالجتماعية وقد تطور هذا المنتدى.المحلية واإلقليمية والعالمية ليصبح واحدًا من أكبر المنتديات السنوية المهمة في والمعني بتقديم حلول حقيقية للتحديات، المنطقة .العالمية المعاصرة
ريادة األعمال وتحفيز االبتكار جرت في مدينة الرياض ضمن منتدى التنافسية الدولي السابع بحضور العديد من الشخصيات البارزة من وزراء وقادة األعمال التجارية واألكاديميين من المؤسسات العلمية الرائدة،الدولية وركز المنتدى على،والخبراء السعوديين والدوليين موضوع (بناء شراكات تنافسية) على مستوى مؤسسات ،الدولة وأجهزتها المعنية بالشأن االقتصادي من ناحية وأيضا شراكات مع منشآت القطاع الخاص من ناحية وأثر هذه الشراكات وفاعليتها في تعزيز تنافسية،أخرى االقتصاد وتطوير بنية تحتية عالمية المستوى في المملكة .العربية السعودية وعلى الرغم من عمرها الفتي الذي ال يتجاوز الخمس إال أن جامعة الملك عبداهلل قدمت إسهامات،سنوات كبيرة وحيوية من خالل برامجها للشراكة البحثية العالمية نتج عن مسار تسويق، وحتى هذه اللحظة.ونقل التقنية براءة اختراع300 التقنيات الناشئة في الجامعة أكثر من وتضم مجاالت أبحاث.مسجلة وست شركات ناشئة المشاريع الحالية في جامعة الملك عبداهلل الحلول الحديثة ، وإدارة التجمعات البشرية،المتعلقة بالطاقة الشمسية . والماء النظيف،وتنقية الهواء
3 Photo Credit: Laurence Hapiot
“Discover Saudi Arabia: The Hejaz Railway” Exhibition Displays Kingdom’s Rich History
WEP photographers in action, tracking the Ottoman Hejaz Railway.
The Hejaz Railway, an impressive feat of
Arabia’s cultural diversity and was very well
inaugurated in Madinah on September 1, 1908.
San Roman Alerigi, PhD student in the KAUST
engineering from the early 20th century made
received in the community,” explained Hapiot.
The line extended from Damascus to Madinah,
Photonics Lab and director of photography for the
famous in the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia,
“This year, we decided to focus specifically on the
but never reached Makkah, as it was severely
exhibition. “Sometimes when people are living
was the subject of the Winter Enrichment
Hejaz Railway, a topic that is closely linked to the
damaged during the World War I Arab Revolt
here, they don’t have time to look up and see the
Program’s (WEP) second annual Discover Saudi
history of the Kingdom. Everybody has images of
against the Turks.
skyline or learn about the rich history. We wanted
Arabia photography exhibition.
it from movies and history books, so we wanted
The exhibition, organized by Laurence Hapiot,
to show it to the community.”
Hapiot and a team of several photographers
to show it to them.”
and history enthusiasts from KAUST, including
“We were very happy to see more of Saudi
KAUST research consultant and archaeologist,
The Hejaz Railway project began in 1900 under
staff, students, and other community members,
Arabia,” Hapiot said. “We didn’t realize how many
and Marie-Laure Boulot, WEP Manager, opened
Sultan Abdulhamid II, who ruled the declining
journeyed to different areas of the abandoned
fascinating things there are in the Kingdom. There
on January 20 in the Engineering Science Hall.
Ottoman Empire from 1876-1909. It was designed
railway line that crosses Saudi Arabia’s western
is always more to discover.”
It followed on last year’s Discover Saudi Arabia:
to facilitate a faster and easier journey for pilgrims
Hejaz region to take the exhibition’s photos.
Archaeological and Historical Heritage exhibition,
to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
which focused on cultural heritage sites across the Kingdom. “The previous exhibition showcased Saudi
“This was about bringing people who have a
the Hejaz Railway exhibition and the WEP 2013
After an arduous eight years of construction
talent with photography and who are interested
exhibition are available for display at other official
challenges through some of the world’s most
in the history of the Kingdom on a journey to
KAUST events. Please contact Hapiot at laurence.
desolate territory, the railway was officially
discover different sites,” explained Damian
email@example.com for more information.
Facing Fear and Moving Forward
The exhibition ran from January 20-27. Both
able to create your comfort zone, and in this comfort zone you have your car, your TV, your family, your friends, and your circle. You turn
“It’s only when the will to win
ski kite in over 27 months – as chronicled in the film Arktos – The
in circles. It’s like a fish in a pond a little bit; and that’s what your
becomes bigger than the constant
Internal Journey of Mike Horn.
comfort zone is. But life is lived outside the comfort zone. Nobody
fear of losing that we can go
Horn presented captivating images and videos to a packed
out there and do extraordinary
auditorium of another exploit he accomplished in 2006 with fellow
things,” said Mike Horn during
adventurer, Norwegian arctic explorer Børge Ousland. They became
While Horn advocates for everyone to push beyond their comfort
his WEP keynote lecture. The
the first men to trek unaided to the North Pole during the Arctic
zones in order to reach their full potential, he does acknowledge that
South African-born Swiss explorer
winter months of complete darkness. The audience was able to
one does not wake up one day and become an adventurer. “I think
and eco adventurer is world-
admire the first ever picture of a sunrise from the North Pole. He also
that we all have a certain DNA that makes us who we are and to be
renowned for having been the first
shared harrowing accounts of being raided by polar bears and the
able to discover this at a very young age, as I did, obviously helps me
human being to complete a solo
duo almost being engulfed in the frigid Arctic Sea.
to build a career in professional exploration,” he expounds.
said that you can’t create a comfort zone beyond your immediate comfort zone."
and un-motorized 18-month journey around the Equator, which he
Horn’s philosophy is that the vast majority of people on earth only
But one rule of thumb he learned from his father and which he
completed in 2000. Two years later, Horn set out on a pioneering
live at 10 % of their capabilities. “Human beings live in a comfort
believes applies to everyone is: "If your dreams don’t scare you
expedition to circumnavigate the Arctic Circle on foot, boat, and
zone, and we think that this is what success means. Success is to be
they’re not big enough."
:تتمة الصفحة األولى
Khalid Al-Falih | Continued from p1 knowledge-based economy. Both have a “common thread”
members represent the best of both KAUST and Saudi Aramco:
of “impactful research, technology, and talent, which are
people who use their knowledge of science and technology
necessary to spur economic growth and diversification,
to better the world by “combining their respective strengths,
create jobs, and address challenges” facing Saudi Arabia
expertise, and insights,” he said.
and the world.
This spirit of collaboration is one of KAUST’s main
Saudi Aramco currently counts more than 100 KAUST
strengths, Al-Falih said, as “innovation is not just a matter of
alumni as employees, and relies on the University as an
the most powerful electron microscopes or most sophisticated
important R&D partner. “KAUST serves as an example of the
nanotechnology clean room; it’s about scientists and
power of collaboration across disciplines and institutions,”
researchers collaborating to turn abstract ideas and theories
into transformative solutions.”
He noted an example of a team of eight KAUST graduates
KAUST and its work with academic and industrial partners
who are now Saudi Aramco employees. These men and
are a bridge “to an inspirational past, and will be a bridge to
women from four continents “designed and developed a robot
the future,” Al-Falih stated. “I believe also that [the University]
to inspect pipelines and hard-to-reach operational assets like
can bridge human understanding – an element that is essential
beams and elevated vessels,” Al-Falih explained. The team
to the spirit of open collaboration that drives innovation.”
كما أنها تنظر للجامعة كشريك استراتيجي مهم، من خريجي الجامعة100 أكثر من " تمثل جامعة الملك عبداهلل نموذجا لقوة التعاون بين المؤسسات: حيث قال، ، ثم تحدث عن فريق مكون من ثمانية من خريجي الجامعة."والتخصصات المختلفة هذا الفريق من رجال ونساء يأتون من.هم اآلن من موظفي شركة أرامكو السعودية والوصول إلى، أربع قارات " قاموا بتصميم وانشاء روبوت لتفقد خطوط األنابيب وهم يمثلون أفضل ما في الجامعة، األماكن الصعبة مثل الجسور والسفن المرتفعة وأفاد الفالح. بما يحملونه من معرفة وعلوم وتقنية لتحسين العالم،وأرامكو السعودية وأضاف "إن االبتكار،أن روح التعاون هي واحدة من نقاط القوة الرئيسية في الجامعة ليس مجرد مسألة تتعلق بأكثر المجاهر اإللكترونية قوة أو تطبيقات تقنية النانو وإنما االبتكار يتعلق بالعلماء والباحثين المتعاونين لتحويل،المعقدة واألكثر تطورا . " األفكار المجردة والنظريات إلي حلول تطبيقية وختم الفالح بقوله إن التعاون بين الجامعة وشركاءها في المجاالت الصناعية وأنه على يقين أن الجامعة،واالكاديمية يمثل جسرا بين ماضي ملهم ومستقبل مبهر يمكنها أن تبني مفاهيم االنسان – وهو عنصر هام لتشجيع روح التعاون الممتد الذي .يدفع االبتكار
Food & Farming
Opening of WEP 2014 Food AND Farming
specifically of our heavy dependence on water from nonrenewable aquifers, but echoing her overall message. The global population is projected to climb above 9 billion by 2050. With decreased crop yields expected from a hotter climate and increasing water scarcity, this presents a looming challenge to humanity. Meeting this challenge, said Fedoroff, requires “a revolution
“Family farms are evolving, just like the rest of agriculture,”
in thinking”—developing new sources of water, land, and
said Professor Nina Fedoroff, Distinguished Professor and
energy for farming, exploring the potential of genetic
Director of the Center for Desert Agriculture, in her speech
engineering, and integrating farming systems to increase
opening the WEP 2014 Food & Farming theme in recognition
efficiency. “There are no magic bullets,” she said. “We need
of the United Nations’ “International Year of Family Farming.”
to push boundaries.”
While Fedoroff’s research at KAUST includes work on
She closed her talk with a live video Q & A session with
domesticating salt-tolerant plants to use as a food source, she
the operators of Lufa Farms, a Canadian company developing
set the stage for the upcoming week by focusing on the bigger
rooftop greenhouses to feed cities from within, and a prime
picture problems of food security in a growing and changing
example of the innovation she has in mind.
world, and the importance of innovation in agriculture. “We’re living on borrowed time,” she said, speaking
“Can we feed ten billion people, and do so more sustainably?” she asked. “I believe we can.”
KAUST Farmer’s Market a Success On the weekend of January 16-18, KAUST’s Discovery Square came to life amidst the white tents of the Farmer’s Market, offering produce and products from Saudi Arabia and beyond. The selection was diverse, with treats like date ma’amoul and Saudi honey complementing organic vegetables and meats from in-Kingdom farms. Thuwal fisherman sold local fish, while one stand sold fresh fruit from around Africa and as far away as the Philippines. For the more adventurous shopper, Al Turath—a Jeddahbased agricultural company—offered hair and skin products made from camel urine, while Honey House, amidst its shelves of honey, tea, myrrh oil, and incense burners, housed a display of live bees.
"As you can see, we're not meeting that goal," revealed Dr. Terri Raney
Dr. Terri RaneyFeeding 9 Billion People Sustainably
consumers all over the world, arguably its most important impact.
during her keynote lecture, speaking of the progress that the United
Undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies, and obesity all
Nations and its Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) have made
contribute to what today is referred to as the “triple burden” of
towards the goal made in the 1990s of helping countries cut the number
malnutrition. "What is a really thorny challenge is that these problems
of undernourished people by half in 2015.
overlap. There are countries, households, and even individuals that suffer
Raney is a senior economist and editor of The State of Food and Agriculture, the FAO's flagship report, first published in 1947. "However,
from all three forms of malnutrition," explained Raney. Such a complex problem requires a complex solution.
we are doing better in proportionate terms as the percentage of
There are positive signs, however. One metric that the FAO used to
undernourished people is down to 15% compared to 1947 -- when it
evaluate success is the rate of adoption of genetically modified (GM)
was estimated that 50% of the world's population was malnourished,"
crops. "Developing countries now exceed industrialized countries in the
total area planted to GM crops," revealed Raney. The greatest benefit is
Malnutrition is a far more challenging problem today than it was
likely the reduced use of chemical, labor, and energy use.
in 1947. "Back then it was hunger, pure and simple. Now it's more
When asked what was the likelihood of the world reaching food
complex," she explained. The answer to tackling hunger alone is fairly
security by 2050, Raney used the events of 2008, when the cost of basic
straightforward: simply produce more food.
grains increased significantly over a very short period of time, to explain
The Green Revolution of 1947 did exactly this. An international
that the world will likely always be at risk of such shock events. However,
initiative to increase agricultural research and introduce high yielding
with long-term solutions and risk-appropriate policies, she is optimistic
varieties, the Green Revolution doubled production of basic grains
that the agricultural sector should be able to produce sufficient food to
since the late 1960s, raised farm incomes and reduced food prices for
feed our planet's population and protect the most vulnerable.
Food & Farming
The Importance of Vitamin A
Dr. Ingo Potrykus Golden Rice
The Acceptance of Golden Rice
A study published by the World Health Organization in 1992
“The entire technology is the seed,” said Potrykus. Unlike most
estimates that between 1.3 and 2.5 million children die every
other genetically modified plants, Golden Rice was developed as a
year because their diets, which often consist of rice and little else,
humanitarian project, with the intention of distributing the crops to
lack an adequate source of vitamin A. An additional 250,000 to
farmers and allowing them to grow and breed it as they would with
500,000 children go blind each year for the same reason. Despite
normal rice, and in the process, saving countless millions of lives.
humanitarian efforts to provide vitamin-A-rich capsules to
But without the financial support of a large private company,
supplement the diets of those in need, the situation today remains
Golden Rice has run into difficulties in clearing the regulatory hurdles
dire. The problem stems from the fact that rice, the staple crop of
set up for any new GMO. Steps towards obtaining the approvals to
over half of the world’s population, lacks vitamin A almost entirely.
distribute Golden Rice have already increased the development costs
In the early 1990s Potrykus, together with Peter Beyer of the
of the project tenfold. More importantly, Potrykus said, with every
University of Freiburg, decided that through the application of the
year that Golden Rice is kept from farmer’s fields, more and more
“Lack of vitamin A is one of the world’s biggest and most
latest finds in genomics they could introduce vitamin A to the rice
people around the world suffer the effects of vitamin A deficiency.
severe health problems,” said Dr. Ingo Potrykus, co-inventor of
kernel, thus turning the problem of rice itself into a solution. After
“What is disappointing is that for none of these requirements
Golden Rice, in his keynote lecture on the potentially life-saving
years of research exploring multiple options, in 1999 they found
is there scientific justification,” he said. “The data from the
technology. “The social and economic costs are astronomic.”
what they were looking for: Golden Rice. By splicing a small section
trials is clear.”
Golden Rice—a genetically modified crop engineered to deliver
of daffodil DNA into the rice plant’s genome, they enabled rice
But Potrykus is hopeful. Golden Rice is currently undergoing
adequate vitamin A to hundreds of millions of people in the
kernels to produce beta carotene—the naturally occurring precursor
large scale, carefully monitored human trials in the Philippines. He
developing world—has been stalled for over a decade due to the
to vitamin A that gives carrots, pumpkins, and yams their orange
anticipates that positive results from these trials could eventually
difficulties in obtaining permits for the use of genetically modified
color. In the rice, the beta carotene gave each grain a distinctive
soften regulations and silence opponents to the project. “I think this
organisms, or GMOs.
has a future,” he said.
Dr. Michael Purugganan - The Origins of Crop Species While many of the distinguished speakers for WEP 2014
Understanding Domesticated Plants
were acquainting themselves with the campus, Dr. Michael
Domesticated plants make for an ideal study of evolution. They
Purugganan, Professor of Genomics and Biology, and Dean of
evolved recently, they're subjected to intense selection pressures year
Science at New York University, was searching Jeddah's busy
after year, and in many cases there's an archeological record from the
markets for date fruit. "I'm interested in how evolution works,"
first dates of domestication through to the present. In Purugganan's
he said, "particularly how humans and plants are coevolving."
view, the adaptation of plants to human farms (and of humans to eat
In his keynote lecture, "The Origins of Crop Species,"
these plants) is much the same as the natural interactions between
Purugganan offered insights on how recent advances in genome
plant and animal species that have evolved to cooperate. Flowers feed
sequencing and data processing are giving scientists a better
bees, for instance, and in turn bees pollinate flowers.
Dr. Michael Purugganan
understanding of how our modern crops came to be. The date
Purugganan is using statistical analysis to identify which sites on
fruit he collected in Jeddah represent just one of many domestic
domestic plant genomes have been important in adapting to various
plant types whose evolution he hopes to understand. "We think
aspects of domestication. He hopes that this understanding will help
that by looking at the past, there are some lessons we might be
plant breeders and geneticists in adapting our crops to a changing
a hungry world," he said. "Plant genomics is one part of the possible
able to learn about how to feed the world," he said.
planet. "There are a lot of challenges we face in order to be able to feed
Global Food Security – An Opportunity for Innovation The WEP 2014 Food & Farming lecture series came
2050, he said, will require a 38% higher annual increase in food
to a close with a talk by Dr. Mark Tester, Professor of
production per year, starting now.
Bioscience at KAUST, echoing the message of many of the week’s speakers in calling for advancement in agriculture. “The challenges are significant, and I think the need for innovation is great,” he said. Mark Tester, Professor of Bioscience
Tester bolstered the week’s previous talks with some staggering
“Here as KAUST, we have the opportunity to make fundamental
numbers. With current technologies, global food production
scientific discoveries which can then drive innovation,” he said.
is increasing at an average of 32 million tonnes of food per
“This discovery and delivery can be used to address problems of
year, but to feed the world’s projected population of 9 billion in
relevance to the Kingdom, the region, and the world.”
Discovering New Botanical Heights The KAUST Auditorium lobby had several dozen new residents on display for the WEP 2014 Food and Farming lecture series: fruit bearing and otherwise edible fruit-bearing plants like basil, pansies, Saudi cabbage, and tomatoes, each protruding from its own string-wrapped moss ball. The plants were the product of a Winter Enrichment Program workshop on the practice of kokedama (Japanese for “moss ball”), wherein plants are removed from soil, placed in a mud ball, and surrounded by moss. While the technique dates back several centuries, it has only recently gained popularity outside of Japan, with florists and hobbyists stringing up the mossy orbs to create stunning botanical displays. Natalya Ayers and Fiona Inglis, founders of the UK-based floral company Pyrus, led KAUST community members in the workshop. Reactions were positive, they said, and one KAUST K-12 teacher even plans to introduce the technique to her students. “We’re anticipating a kokedama epidemic on campus,” they added.
“The challenges are significant, and I think the need for innovation is great.” -Prof. Mark Tester
Former and Current KAUST Integrated Nanotechnology Lab Students Publish in Prestigious Journals
PhD student Galo Torres Sevilla’s master’s degree thesis appears as the frontispiece for the December 2013 issue of the prestigious journal Small.
PhD student Galo Torres Sevilla and former PhD student Justine
Liquids in Micro-Sized Microbial Fuel Cells”) was accepted to Nature
Mink (class of 2013) from Professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussain’s
Asia Materials (DOI: 10.1038/am.2014.1). Mink and Prof. Hussain’s
Integrated Nanotechnology Lab published papers in two outstanding
team’s work produced a micro-sized (75 mL) microbial fuel cell (MFC)
journals in December 2013.
with a graphene anode and an air cathode fueled by human saliva.
Torres Sevilla’s KAUST master’s degree thesis (“Flexible and Semi-
The MFC produced higher current densities (1190 A/m3)
Transparent Thermoelectric Energy Harvesters from Low Cost Bulk
compared to any previously produced air cathode micro-sized
Silicon (100)”) was published in the journal Small (DOI: 10.1002/
MFC. It also generated 40 times more power than previously found
smll.201301025). The paper, which appeared as the issue’s frontispiece,
possible with the use of a carbon cloth anode. Reviewers of Mink’s
describes research into a regenerative process to fabricate a flexible
work commented that it was “an interesting comparative study
silicon-based thermoelectric generator. Reviewers of Torres Sevilla’s
of various anode materials in a simple structure for microbial
work remarked it was “novel and impressive…the technique is highly
fuel cells…The content…is relevant to the emerging field of bio-
After joining the University in 2011 as a master’s degree student,
Mink joined KAUST in 2009 as a founding class master’s degree
Torres Sevilla has continued on towards his PhD in Prof. Hussain’s
student, continuing on to complete her PhD at the University.
lab. He has published six journal and 10 conference papers, including
She has first-authored five journal papers, with two appearing as
five first-authored papers, and is expected to graduate in 2015.
cover pieces. She is now working for the Dow Chemical Company
Mink’s first-authored paper (“Energy Harvesting from Organic
as a researcher.
Accolade Professor Hadjichristidis named to the Polymer Chemistry Advisory Board Prof. Nikos Hadjichristidis was recently named to the
all aspects of synthetic and biological macromolecules
as a member of the editorial board of Macromolecules,
Polymer Chemistry advisory board. Polymer Chemistry is
and related emerging areas.
and is currently an editorial board member of Journal
a peer-reviewed high impact journal (factor 5.231) that
Prof. Hadjichristidis, Professor of Chemical Science
publishes advances in polymer chemistry, encompassing
in the KAUST Catalysis Center, has previously served
of Polymer Science: Polymer Chemistry, Progress in Polymer Science, and European Polymer Journal.
Register for Library Training
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Visit http://thelens.kaust.edu.sa to find: Announcements | Upcoming events | News about KAUST Comprehensive list of University links | Useful contact information
Throughout the spring 2014 semester, the University Library will host several training classes designed to help the KAUST researchers get the most from the library’s wide array of information resources and to aid students in achieving success with their studies. • KAUST specialists will present the following classes: • Effective Literature Search • Web of Science (science citation database) • Scopus (science citation database) • Business Source Complete (business database) • Pubmed and BIOSIS Previews • Scifinder & Reaxys • ABI/Inform Complete (business database) • MathSciNet and SIAM • ACM Digital Library • EndNote (citation management software) • More Citations for Your Research with KAUST Digital Archive To register for a class, please visit libguides.kaust.edu.sa/libtraining. Classes are open to all members of the KAUST community.
7 Photo Credit: Liming Xiong
Model plant Arabidopsis thaliana on display in the KAUST labs.
Plant Stress Tolerance: A HAPPY Ending with a SAD Gene “Unlike animals, plants cannot run away from adverse
messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA),” Prof. Xiong says. The
change the expression level of any stress-responsive genes –
environmental conditions like high temperatures, drought,
splicing process produces “mature” mRNA that is used as a
it instead promotes the accurate and efficient processing of
or high soil salinity,” says Liming Xiong, Associate Professor
template for protein synthesis (see The Beacon, October 2013).
the stress-responsive gene transcripts,” Prof. Xiong explains.
of Bioscience. “Because of this, plants have developed sophisticated mechanisms to deal with stress. One way they do this is to
The team discovered that overexpression of SAD1 can improve
“We expect that regulating the splicing efficiency does not
plant tolerance to stress, probably by improved processing of
affect plant growth, but functions to significantly improve
stress tolerance. This is because stress induces a large increase
activate the expression of many stress-responsive genes whose
“SAD1 encodes a protein called LSm5,” explains Prof. Xiong.
products can increase plant tolerance to stress. Manipulating the
“LSm5 and other LSm proteins form a doughnut-shaped ring
expression of these genes is the major method currently used to
complex that encircles mRNA molecules. This complex is thought
engineer plant stress tolerance,” he explains.
to function in several processes, including mRNA splicing.”
in the expression of stress-responsive genes whose processing is often impaired by stressful conditions.” The researchers point out that the benefits of increasing salt tolerance by the overexpression of SAD1 are
Prof. Xiong notes that there are some disadvantages to
Prof. Xiong and his team isolated a sad1 Arabidopsis mutant
moderate, and “thus SAD1 may not be the best candidate
overexpressing stress-responsive genes. “The major drawback is
that is highly sensitive to drought and salt stress. Using this
for engineering crop stress tolerance,” says Prof. Xiong.
that overexpression often compromises plant performance under
mutant, they found SAD1 can modulate the accuracy and
However, he notes that his team’s work with SAD1 “provides
normal conditions, making the technology much less attractive,”
efficiency of pre-mRNA splicing.
a proof-of-concept study that exhibits the importance of
he says. He and a team of KAUST research scientists realized
“This discovery was surprising because SAD1 is one of the
enhancing splicing efficiency in plant stress tolerance.”
there is a need to develop alternative methods for engineering
seven components of the doughnut-shaped ring structure,”
The study shows that it is possible to enhance plant stress
or breeding stress-tolerant crop plants.
he states. “One might think it is not possible to regulate the
tolerance by controlling the quality of gene products instead
In a paper recently published in Genome Biology (http://
function of the complex by overexpressing only one component,
of the quantity of the products.
genomebiology.com/2014/15/1/R1), Prof. Xiong and his team
but we propose this process drives the formation of the complex,
Because of the team’s work in this area, the researchers “now
examined the overexpression of a single gene, SAD1, in the
resulting in enhanced splicing efficiency.” Prof. Xiong and his
know what the HAPPY (Heat-and-Aridity-Proof Productive
model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. “This gene is not a stress-
team call this the “dynamic model” of splicing regulation.
Yield) genes look like, and are beginning work to isolate the
responsive gene per se, but is related to splicing, a process
The team also discovered that overexpressing SAD1 increases
whereby non protein-encoding nucleotides are removed from
Arabidopsis salt tolerance. “Overexpressing SAD1 does not
HAPPY genes to test their effectiveness in enhancing plant stress tolerance,” Prof. Xiong says.
Boost to Emerging Technology in Data Storage Researchers from the National University of Singapore, in
observations of a strong torque component that should simply
be observed in thick multilayer systems, enabling a greater
collaboration with KAUST Professor Aurelien Manchon, have made
not be present. Prof. Manchon first published about the smart
flexibility in the structural design of a device.
new observations that challenge the fundamental understanding
design of spin-orbit torque in Physical Review Letters in 2012 (as
of current theories of spin-orbit torque. These findings were
covered in the September 2012 issue of The Beacon).
published online in Physical Review Letters on December 9 (http:// link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.246602).
At the moment, Prof. Manchon's team is actively working on two novel mechanisms that could enhance
This observation is of significant importance, especially as
our understanding and control of spin-orbit torques. These
it relates to the next generation of MRAM (Magnetoresistive
advancements in data storage can potentially be applied
“The important questions that arise from the peculiar
Random Access Memory) technology which provides high
to improve the user experience in consumer electronics,
symmetry of the torque poses thrilling questions about the
bit density and low power consumption. Essentially, their
including personal computers and mobile devices such as
physics at stake,” said Prof. Manchon, commenting on their
observations demonstrate that a sizable spin-orbit torque can
laptops and mobile phones.
Annual WEP 5K Fun Run Three hundred and forty-one runners, joggers, and walkers, and at least one dog, took part in the WEP 2014 five kilometer run on January 17. While postdoctoral fellow John Pearman’s winning time of 17:20 and other top performances were impressive, many participants were out simply for the fun of it. “The thing I like best about the event is the atmosphere,” said Maha Khalil, a PhD student in KAUST’s Coral Reef Ecology Lab. Nearby, Cabby Tennis, Assistant Principal at KAUST Secondary School, boasted to friends that his dog Chop was the first dog across the finish for the fifth consecutive year.
2014 WEP 5K Winners Men
Juniors (Under 16)
1st Place: John Pearman
1st Place: August Houborg
2nd Place: Rasmus Houborg
2nd Place: Colin Herrington
3rd Place: Rodain Skinner
3rd Place: Max Somerville
Veterans (Over 45)
1st Place: Katie O'Brien
1st Place: Chris Cassell
2nd Place: Josie O’Reilly
2nd Place: Garth Tissington
3rd Place: Rebecca Somerville
3rd Place: Hallak Khaled
Jeddah Heritage Festival A cultural extravaganza celebrating Jeddah’s historical
aromas. During the event, visitors could explore streets lined with
sites and traditions took place in the city’s old Balad area
traditional craftsmen, cobblers, and locksmiths, as well as sample
from January 16 - 25.
favorite foods from various street vendors.
The first of its kind, the Jeddah Heritage Festival featured
The festival was organized by the Saudi Commission for
plenty of cultural and entertainment programs based on Hijazi
Tourism and Antiquities and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce
heritage. Thousands of visitors took part in the ten-day event
and Industry under the support of Makkah Emir Prince Mishal
that filled the streets of Al-Balad with vibrant sights, sounds, and
My University Joanna Nassar
Electrical Engineering at KAUST, graduating in December
project, she will work on investigating and fabricating SiGe
2013. “KAUST has given me the opportunity to work in the
nanotube field effect transistors (SiGe nanotube FETs). “These
PhD student Joanna Nassar came to
Core Labs and other facilities with state-of-the-art research
devices have a new architecture and, along with the choice
KAUST from the American University of
equipment,” she explains. “This has allowed me to carry
of material used, will allow enhanced device performance
Beirut (Lebanon), where she completed
out nanofabrication, an exciting experience that has helped
with lower power consumption,” Joanna says.
her bachelor’s degree in Physics. She was
me move a step closer towards my dream of working in one
Joanna feels that KAUST “is a great environment for people
attracted to attend KAUST “because it’s
of the largest semiconductor manufacturing companies in
to pursue their dreams. Everywhere at KAUST, you meet
people who have the same passion and enthusiasm about
the first university in the Middle East to offer such high levels of technological innovation and such broad research
After graduating, Joanna decided to remain at KAUST to
science as you do,” she says. “This makes the University a
opportunities for science and engineering students,” she says.
complete her PhD in the Integrated Nanotechnology Lab
perfect environment for working, learning, and mingling
Joanna recently completed her master’s degree in
with Professor Muhammad Mustafa Hussain. For her PhD
with people from all over the world.”
improve our users’ experience in searching for information.” Rindra also provides awareness and training for knowledge
many opportunities to advance his career. “One of the
Rindra Ramli is part of the University Library
management and collaborative learning. During the library’s
highlights of my career at this moment is being given
team, helping to ensure that tens of thousands
upcoming spring 2014 training sessions, Rindra will offer tutorials
the chance to write and present my research papers in
of online resources are available to the KAUST
in EndNote software.
international and regional conferences in the field of
Working at the University has also given Rindra
community. As Access and Digital Services
A part of the KAUST family since 2009, Rindra explains that
Specialist, he helps manage subscriptions to
when he first received the offer to work here, he didn’t hesitate
“KAUST is a very unique environment in which to work,
electronic journals, electronic books, and databases. “I liaise with
to accept. “I love to take on challenges and at the same time meet
live, and study,” says Rindra. “Here, my family and I have the
the publishers and also help address any user queries,” says Rindra.
new people from all walks of life,” he explains. Prior to joining
opportunity to learn more about other cultures and lifestyles.
“Additionally, I study the behavioral patterns of our users with
KAUST, he was working at Li Ka Shing Library at the Singapore
We also appreciate the pristine beaches and unpolluted air
regards to using our resources. This helps me to understand and
away from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
librarianship,” he notes.