Alumni Focus: Bedour Al-Sabban

Alumna Bedour Al-Sabban received both her master's degree ('12) and Ph.D. ('16) from KAUST. File photo.

By Abdullah Alhamdan, KAUST News

KAUST alumna Bedour Al-Sabban received both her master's degree ('12) and Ph.D. in chemical science ('16) from the University. She currently works as a senior researcher in the Chemical Catalysts Department at the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

Al-Sabban was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but she spent her childhood in Toronto, Canada, where her family moved because her father was studying pediatrics and kidney transplantation there.

"When we came back from Canada, we settled in Riyadh, and this is where I continued my schooling," Al-Sabban said. "It was during secondary school that I began to find myself drawn to chemistry, so I [later] joined the faculty of chemical sciences at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah to study [for] my bachelor's degree."

"Five years after I got my bachelor's degree, I joined KAUST because I wanted to go on to higher education under the supervision of distinguished professors," she continued. "I also wanted to realize my passion, and this is something KAUST supports by providing state-of-the-art and fully equipped laboratories and access to training to gain massive experience."

KAUST alumna Bedour Al-Sabban's Ph.D. supervisor was Distinguished Professor Jean Marie Basset (pictured here on the University's campus). Photo by Khulud Muath.

After receiving her KAUST master's degree, Al-Sabban began working under the direction of KAUST Adjunct Professor Kazuhiro Takanabe to "discover a chemical catalyst for splitting water with light," she explained. "I also worked for SABIC as a researcher, and this contributed to my obtaining a scholarship towards my doctorate [at KAUST]. I went on to join the doctoral program under the direction of Distinguished Professor Jean Marie Basset and I later got my PhD. from KAUST."

"My journey at KAUST was full of challenges and situations that made me who I am today," she said. "KAUST prepared me for work [in industry]. At KAUST, I was also able to live with people from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, and I was introduced to scientists from around the world. I connected with them and we cooperated for knowledge and technology transfer. KAUST opened up job opportunities for me, and I was able to join SABIC."

The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation—or SABIC—has an office on campus at the University's Research Park. File photo.

Al-Sabban noted she has several U.S. patents and she is working on more. "I also published a research paper and I'm currently writing two more," she added.

In 2015, she also won second place in the Leadership Excellence for Women Awards & Symposium during her participation in the 3rd Middle East Process Engineering Conference & Exhibition in Bahrain.

Al-Sabban advised current KAUST students to "stay persistent and make the best of the experiences available to you at KAUST. Take on the full experience—with its positives and negatives—and learn from it all."

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