KAUST student awarded grant from KACST

Nawaf Alghamdi has become one of the first KAUST graduate students to be awarded a Grants Program for Universities and Research Centers (GPURC) grant from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). Photo by Raheena Abdurehim.

​-By Alison Rankin and David Murphy, KAUST News

Nawaf Alghamdi, an M.S./Ph.D. student based in the Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC), has become one of the first KAUST graduate students to be awarded a Grants Program for Universities and Research Centers (GPURC) grant from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). Alghamdi was awarded the grant for his work entitled "Upgrading Low-Grade Feedstocks Using Catalytic Pyrolysis" and will receive support from KACST for two years to work on his Ph.D. research at KAUST.

GPURC is a long-term strategic investment aimed at developing the scientific skills needed among outstanding graduate students to boost Saudi Arabia's position among leading countries in the fields of science, technology and innovation. Alghamdi, who is supervised by KAUST Professor Mani Sarathy, submitted his successful proposal for the grant in July of 2017.

"KACST looked at all proposals and selected the ones with the highest research quality potential. I knew about the opportunity through my adviser, who had been informed about it by KAUST," Alghamdi said.

Through skills development with selected graduate students, GPURC aims to develop a support ecosystem which enables students to conduct world-class research. The program has been adopted as one KACST's initiatives in the National Transformation Program 2020.

"The KACST GPURC grants are meant to financially encourage graduate students in the Kingdom to pursue research with minimal obstacles. The idea is to elevate the level of research in Saudi Arabia, which is fantastic," he enthused.

Contributing to in-Kingdom collaboration

Alghamdi, who earned his chemical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as part of the KAUST Gifted Students Program, is working on his M.S. thesis in chemical engineering. Beginning next spring, he will continue working on the same project as he pursues his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering.

Alghamdi's long-term research goal is to push the boundaries of science by utilizing his engineering skills to improve catalysis-based operations.

"My current research involves catalytically upgrading low-grade feedstocks using unconventional catalysts. I'm currently working on building a complete setup from scratch to conduct my research, which is what I'll use most of the KACST fund for," Alghamdi said.

"I feel greatly fortunate to have support from both KAUST and KACST to do my research. I'm happy to create a bridge between KAUST and KACST because I firmly believe that the best scientific work emerges from collaborations between research entities," he added.

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