King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Hosts Global Research Partnership (GRP) Technical Symposium

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Global Research Partnership (GRP) Technical Symposium marks the first gathering of KAUST GRP award recipients from around the world.

On May 28,King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) concluded its first Global Research Partnership (GRP) Technical Symposium, "Frontiers and Opportunities in Science and Engineering: The Contribution of the Global Research Partnership to KAUST, Saudi Arabia, and the World."

The event welcomed to Saudi Arabia 19 world-renowned researchers and scholars recently awarded grants through the GRP, a global research support program designed to establish strong links between the University and the existing global research enterprise.

His Excellency Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and Chairman of the KAUST Board of Trustees said, "KAUST has embarked on a unique journey, inspired by the bold vision to establish a new house of wisdom and create a modern, global research university. This is the beginning of a new era of global academic and research collaborations that are vital to making King Abdullah's vision a reality."

The two-day event included a visit to the KAUST campus site, an award ceremony featuring a keynote by Mark Yudof, president-designate, University of California, and a full day of presentations focused on KAUST's primary research areas: resources, energy and environment; materials science and engineering; bioscience and bioengineering; and applied mathematics and computational science.

GRP Investigators, Centers, and Centers-in-Development grant awardees presented their views and latest research of global significance with particular importance to Saudi Arabia and the region, including water desalination, renewable and sustainable next-generation energy sources, genomics of salt-tolerant plants, durable and environmentally friendly construction materials, sustainable utility of hydrocarbons, low-cost high-efficiency solar technology, and the application of computational science to human health and biotechnology.

In his opening remarks, Professor Choon Fong Shih, president-designate of KAUST, said, "the Global Research Partnership is one of KAUST's key initiatives to build innovative global alliances at multiple levels, from the individual to the institutional. This cross-disciplinary approach transcends communities, cultures and continents, bringing the best talent together to engage in truly groundbreaking science."

"By supporting cutting-edge research at top universities through the GRP," he added, "KAUST is making a clear statement of its intention to be a major participant in the global exchange of knowledge. The GRP Centers and Centers-in-Development, as well as KAUST Investigators and Fellows, will address the grand challenges of our times, for the betterment of the human condition."

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST's interim president, added that "today's event marks another significant milestone in KAUST's development. The GRP will help place KAUST on the world map of research in a unique way to become a major contributor in specific research areas."

About the Global Research Partnership (GRP) and KAUST

The Global Research Partnership (GRP) pursues KAUST's core mission of closely linked graduate education and research in global issues of particular importance to Saudi Arabia and the region. Especially during KAUST's startup, this research program is a primary mechanism by which research and graduate education of the highest quality is joined to - and engaged to support - KAUST's development as a world-class graduate research university. The Global Research Partnership is a keystone investment by KAUST as it moves rapidly to become the first newly established 21st century university.

The GRP began in August 2007 with a broad solicitation of research proposals in areas of importance to KAUST. The selection process relied on a world-standard competitive peer review process to choose the highest quality proposals of direct relevance to KAUST's mission. The grants will support research carried out at the selected institutions in three major programs: KAUST Centers and Centers-in-Development, KAUST Investigators, and KAUST Research Fellows (i.e., post-doctoral researchers).

In selecting the Centers, Investigators, and Fellows to be funded, quality of the proposed research, relevance to KAUST missions, and the track record and potential of the proposed individual or team were the leading criteria in peer evaluation.

Another critical factor in peer evaluation was the role that the selected research activities can play in the development of the research and education programs at KAUST. This contribution of GRP research to KAUST's on-campus development may take many forms. GRP-supported faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and technical staff may participate in or lead:

  •     A complementary research center at KAUST to create a paired or combined research program;
  •     Development of a unique research facility at KAUST to enable new research or to serve as a "user center" for research in the region;
  •     Private-sector engagement among the GRP institution, KAUST, and individual companies or consortia of companies with shared research and/or graduate educational needs; or
  •     Educational activities or exchanges to the advantage of students at both KAUST and the GRP institution (for example, GRP institutions will train a group of technical staff or have their graduate students do a rotation in a KAUST lab in Saudi Arabia as part of their doctoral training).

The GRP is also designed to work in a coordinated fashion with other KAUST collaborative programs, including the Academic Excellence Alliance and special academic and industrial partnerships, to facilitate KAUST's launch as a 21st century, globally linked institution.

About KAUST
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, in the region and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premiere universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. KAUST will be merit-based, open to men and women from all cultures around the world, and governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009. For more information about KAUST, visit http://www.kaust.edu.sa.

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