March 19, 2020
Dear KAUST Faculty,
With the rapidly developing COVID-19 crisis, this must be a stressful time for all of us. But
I'd like to suggest that we turn this curse into an opportunity. I strongly believe that
science will have to, and can, play a key role for humanity to tackle COVID-19.
So while we are struggling to keep our family and KAUST safe by changing our lifestyle and
work habits, let's not forget that, as a university of science and technology, we also have
an opportunity, even an obligation, to try to make our contributions to tackle this global
I am reminded of the legend of Issac Newton discovering the law of gravity and the theories
of optics, and developed calculus, while he was "home quarantined" during the
Bubonic Plague! That should serve as an inspiration for all of us!
I encourage you to dig deep into your area of scientific expertise and make use of the next
few weeks (months?) to find opportunities to come up with knowledge, tools, solutions,
mitigation, even cures for the virus, and any harm that it has caused humanity.
Feel free to involve your students, postdocs and research staff in this. If there is any help
that I and my office can do to help facilitate and support your endeavor, please don't
hesitate to let me know.
On a related front, Vice President Kevin Cullen and I are working together to formulate a
COVID-19 Innovation Challenge that will involve the whole KAUST community.