Student Focus: Areej Aljarb

Areej Aljarb is a Ph.D. student in the University’s material science and engineering program and is part of the KAUST 2D Materials Research Lab. Photo by Sarah Munshi.

​-By David Murphy, KAUST News

Areej Aljarb is a third year Ph.D. student in the University's material science and engineering program under the supervision of KAUST Professors Lain-Jong Li and Xixiang Zhang. As a member of the KAUST 2D Materials Research Lab, Aljarb's research interests focus on 2D materials, chemical vapor deposition, density functional theory and electronic structure calculation.

"I received my bachelor's degree from the physics department at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in 2009 and received my master's degree from the same department in 2012. I worked as a lecturer from 2009 to 2014 in KAU. In 2016, I joined the 2D Materials Research KAUST as a Ph.D. student. My research interests relate to the controlled growth and exploration of the fundamental phenomena of two-dimensional atomic layer thin materials," Aljarb said.

A curious and motivated individual

Aljarb, who is a native of Saudi Arabia, considers herself to be a highly motivated and curious individual who excels at problem-solving.

"Exploration and discovery have always been my passion, so I decided to pursue my education in an area that aligns my passion for science with a prosperous career direction," she said.

Upon visiting the University in 2012, she was struck by the cultural diversity of KAUST and was equally impressed by the faculty and facilities on hand.

"The cultural diversity was the most striking aspect. The visit opened my eyes to the fact that I can live the experience of studying abroad while being here in Saudi Arabia. [It] is exciting for me to interact with so many cultures. I was impressed with the professors, modern equipment, the facilities and the environment," Aljarb noted.

Areej Aljarb, a Ph.D. student in the University’s material science and engineering program, works in the KAUST lab on her research. Photo by Sarah Munshi.

Overcoming academic challenges

At KAUST, her Ph.D. thesis topic is focused on controlling the orientation of 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) materials.

"Although we achieved such controlling, I have a dream to reach the ultimate goal of 2D materials society, which is a single-orientation epitaxial monolayer 2D TMDs to benefit from the full potential of these materials," she emphasized.

Aljarb is fully aware of the everyday challenges that dot the road to academic success for students, but she feels her time at KAUST has prepared her well for her future endeavors.

"As Ph.D. students, we face challenges. When days get tough, it's important to remember how advantageous it is—we're doing this experience so we can get an education in something that interests us. We're growing our skills and talents so that we can thrive in the field of our interests. It might be a bit demanding at times, but sooner or later, I believe we will know just how significant it is," Aljarb observed.

"My time at KAUST benefitted me in different aspects to [become] a motivating instructor and an appreciated researcher and improved my ability in contributing and facing responsibilities and academic challenges," she concluded.

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