KAUST to attend ACS conference in Denver

Several KAUST representatives from the Core Laboratories, the Catalysis Center (KCC), and the Solar & Photovoltaic Engineering Research Centre (SPERC) will be attending the upcoming 249 th ACS (American Chemical Society) National Meeting & Exposition, to be held in Denver, Colorado from March 22-26, 2015.

The conference will attract thousands of scientists, practitioners and professionals in the fields of chemistry and natural resources. With over 161,000 members, the ACS is the world's largest scientific society. Through its 47 peer-reviewed journals, the ACS publishes around 40,000 articles from global researchers annually.

"It's by far the largest organized group of chemists in the world," said Dr. Heiko Langner, Manager of the Analytical Chemistry Core Lab at KAUST. "It's basically the home society for a lot of our researchers. So I see this as both a recruiting meeting and an opportunity to showcase all that KAUST has to offer," he adds.

Among the KAUST attendees will be: Professor Jean Frechet – VP Research, Professor Jean-Marie Basset — Director, KAUST Catalysis Research Center, Dr. Justin Mynar – Director Core Laboratory, Dr. Heiko Langner – Manager, Analytical Chemistry Core Lab, Dr. Kun Li – Manager, Imaging & Characterization Core Lab, Dr. Xianbin Wang – Manager, Nanofabrication & Thin Film, Dr. Jason Serin – Laboratory Manager, Solar & Photovoltaic Engineering Research Centre, and Dr. John Tannaci – Manager, Research Oversight & Planning. Some members of the KAUST delegation will be actively representing KAUST and greeting visitors at Booth 143.

Connecting with the Global Scientific Community

In a rapidly evolving global research environment, collaborations and networking between various research groups and institutions around the world have nowadays become an essential part of pursuing high impact and groundbreaking research. This is something that KAUST has been deeply committed to since the institution's founding.

Reflecting those values, one of the main messages that the above representatives will articulate while at the ACS conference is that, in addition to being a top-notch research institution with state-of-the-art equipment and world-class faculty, KAUST is also connected with important research places around the world. This fact can sometimes be lost to outside researchers who may view the Middle East as a location isolated from cutting edge research. This message will not only be addressed to potential staff and faculty members at the conference but also to prospective students.

"It doesn't get much more international than KAUST. So there are probably connections that students can make with a view of their future careers. The possibilities are probably larger than in many other places. We have researchers from close to a hundred countries. So isolation is really not an issue." as Langner remarked.

Working with Industry

In addition to benefiting from these worldwide collaborations, KAUST is particularly well advantaged by the University's solid and growing industrial partnerships. As Heiko Langner mentioned, "KAUST is an exciting place for potential recruits looking to build a career with a view of working in industry. Companies like Aramco, Dow and SABIC all have KAUST alumni working for them. It seems like these companies actively pick those candidates because they have some history with KAUST, and have built personal and professional connections. Once KAUST alumni become their employees, they often become the liaison between the company and the research community at KAUST."

Given the expanding number of leading companies moving into KAUST's Research and Technology Park, there is indeed a tight-knit network of collaboration between these companies and the University's research community. These companies' ability to work with the Core Labs staff and to use the facilities also make KAUST an attractive environment for these on-campus industrial partners. "As soon as they move in here, they have direct access to the Core Labs. They can basically bring their experts and run their own experiments in our Core Labs or use our staff's full service. Essentially, they get treated just like faculty," said Langner.

It can be argued that significant research rarely happens in a vacuum. It's always driven by certain needs. A lot of the times, those needs are industry needs. This drive, shared by KAUST researchers to pursue meaningful research, as informed by the University's four main research pillars, joins the vision of the ACS which states: "[We are] at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise. We enable chemists, chemical engineers and related chemical professionals to address looming global challenges and improve people's lives."

An Accolade for KAUST

The ACS National Meeting & Exposition will also feature the awarding of several National Awards. Among this year's eminent recipients will be KAUST's Prof. Nikos Hadjichristidis – who will be awarded the ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry. Prof. Hadjichristidis is the Principal Investigator of the Polymer Synthesis Laboratory and is affiliated with the KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC).

He will be recognized for his "seminal contributions to the use of living anionic polymerization in the design/synthesis of well-defined polymers and to the understanding of macromolecular architecture-property relationships."