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Alumni Focus: Sara Althubaiti

Alumna Sara Althubaiti (M.S. '18, computer science) is currently a computer science Ph.D. student in KAUST Assistant Professor Robert Hoehndorf's Bio-Ontology Research Group. File photo.

-By Abdullah Alhamdan, KAUST News

KAUST alumna Sara Waslallah Althubaiti received her master's degree in computer science with a focus on bioinformatics from the University in December 2018. Prior to her studies at KAUST, she completed her undergraduate degree in Makkah at Umm Al-Qura University's Computer and Information Systems College in 2016.

"[My master's degree] was one of [the] most enriching experiences in my academic journey," Althubaiti noted.

"At first [at KAUST,] I felt a great difference in the level between my scientific background and KAUST research," she said. "However, I gradually adjusted thanks to the help and support from my family, my colleagues in my research group and my research supervisor, Assistant Professor Robert Hoehndorf, who was very patient with me...until I got used to some of the terms and concepts of bioinformatics."

Alumna Sara Althubaiti defended her master's degree thesis in November 2018. She is pictured here (second from right) after her successful defense with her defense committee members (from left to right: KAUST Professors Stefan Arold, Robert Hoehndorf and Mikhail Moshkov). Image courtesy of KAUST Computational Bioscience Research Center.

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Scientific research

Althubaiti is currently a KAUST computer science Ph.D. student in Hoehndorf's Bio-Ontology Research Group, and she focuses her research on two project areas. The first project uses artificial intelligence to develop a tool that prioritizes cancer mutations in the human body. The second project predicts and classifies new treatments for diseases through understanding the inverse relationship between the side effects of drugs and disease phenotypes.

Her research areas enable her discover new concepts in biology that may assist doctors in accessing new therapeutic methods and effective treatments.

"My research is helping me to learn a lot of new concepts in computers and biology," Althubaiti said.

Sara Althubaiti (M.S. '18) stated her master's degree at the University was 'one of the most enriching experiences' she's had so far. She is pictured here receiving her diploma at the KAUST 2018 Commencement ceremony. Photo by Helmy Alsagaff.

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Future goals

"My goal is to [finish] my Ph.D. and then continue to work in academia, especially since most of the universities in Saudi Arabia have started to include a researcher position before someone becomes a faculty member," Althubaiti explained.

She also noted she's grateful to KAUST for giving her many opportunities to learn from her unique academic experiences on campus. Althubaiti advised current students to take advantage of all that KAUST offers and to fully utilize their time at the University.

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