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All the right elements

A KAUST team of staff, students and faculty stand in the KAUST booth during the 252nd American Chemical Society Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Nicholas Demille.

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A team of KAUST faculty, staff and students attended the 252nd American Chemical Society Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from August 21 to 24. The multidisciplinary team traveled to the conference to represent KAUST in technical sessions and in a recruitment capacity.

KAUST faculty in attendance included Yves Gnanou, distinguished professor of chemical science and dean of the Physical Science and Engineering Division, Nikos Hadjichristidis, professor of chemical science, Suzana Nunes, professor of environmental science and engineering and associate dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division, Valentin Rodionov​, assistant professor of chemical science, and Yu Han, associate professor of chemical science.

2016 ACS Meeting Philadelphia
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A number of KAUST students attended the event, including Giada Soldan, Sarah Almahdali, Christopher Beaudoin and Renyuan Li.

“I felt lucky to be selected to share my experience with people from all around the world," said Soldan. "Making the decision to move to Saudi Arabia is generally not that easy, so trying to convince people to come to KAUST is definitely a delicate task. But I honestly felt lucky and proud to have the possibility to tell people my story.”

Dr. Heiko Langner, director of the Analytical Chemistry Core Lab, and David Yeh, director of initiatives and student recruitment, were also in attendance. Langner gave a talk about the benefits of adding overseas work to one's resume. Yeh led recruitment efforts at the booth and mobilized student team members for group networking sessions.

"On the first day, a visitor asked if we were hired to represent KAUST," said Yeh. "I turned to our group in the booth and said, 'We all live and work at KAUST, many of us from day one.' The visitor was surprised, and it made me realize that our small group of KAUST students and staff really helped show the unique, global nature of our University."

Rodionov attended the conference with two of his students, Tianyou Chen and Sarah Almahdali. Almahdali, who attended technical sessions in between working at the booth, is completing her Ph.D. in the University's Red Sea Research Center this year. Chen spoke during a session about research he recently published with Rodionov.

"It's not only that we have amazing tools or labs with full support at KAUST, but we also get to do the laboratory analysis ourselves, and there is actually time available to work in the lab facilities," Almahdali noted.