Solutions through curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research

The academic divisions and research centers support the University's research mission by bringing together faculty members, researchers and graduate students from across the disciplines. Together, they leverage the interconnectedness of science and engineering and develop interdisciplinary approaches to fundamental and goal-oriented problems.

Our core labs and major facilities offer state-of-the art research equipment operated by more than one hundred expert staff scientists and engineers to support the University's research community through training and services. The organization comprises eight core labs as well as central workshops.

KAUST Research Facilities

Research in Academic Divisions

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division (BESE)

To accomplish its mission and establish a knowledge and advanced technology platform, research in the BESE Division is developed around the following six focal areas: environmental systems; epigenetics; functional biology; genomics; imaging/structural biology; and marine science.

These research areas bring to KAUST interdisciplinary competences that are essential for studying the mechanisms through which living organisms and their environments interact, providing opportunities for new technological developments to optimize such interactions to improve the quality of life.

Researchers in BESE focus on topics relevant to the effects of the environment on organisms, the sustainable production of food, the use of high-salinity or poor-quality water, the optimization of energy used in the production of water and food, and the study and preservation of marine and coastal environments.

Research in the BESE Division is driven by independent faculty labs and three Research Centers, which Faculty can affiliate with to perform applied, goal-oriented research. Centers affiliated with the Division include:

  • Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA)
  • Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
  • Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC)
In addition, from time to time, the Division undertakes additional exploratory and collaborative research initiatives, with current activity in the following areas: Neuro-Inspired High Performance Computing and Nutrition, Metabolism, Adaptation and Epigenetics.

Go to Division website

Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering Division (CEMSE)

​Research in the CEMSE Division groups in three main areas:

  • Electrical engineering, including the development of communication networks; CMOS integrated circuits; electronic and optics/photonics devices; micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS); various types of sensors, measurement and detection devices; as well as functional- and nano-materials.
  • Mathematical analysis, including modeling and simulations with applications to physical, chemical, biological and environmental processes; materials science; oil exploration and reservoir management.
  • Computer science and big data, including bioinformatics; statistics; and visual and extreme computing.
Research in the CEMSE Division is driven by independent faculty labs and three Research Centers, which Faculty can affiliate with to perform applied, goal-oriented research. Centers affiliated with the Division include:

  • Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC)
  • Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC)
  • Visual Computing Center (VCC)
In addition, from time to time, the Division undertakes additional exploratory and collaborative research initiatives, with current activity in the following areas: Numerical Porous Media and Uncertainty Quantification.

Go to Division website

Physical Science and Engineering Division (PSE)

​The mission of the Physical Science and Engineering Division is to create knowledge pertaining to matter at all scales – nano, meso, macro –, in all forms – from bulk, to divided colloids and fluids – as well as the interaction of matter with external stimuli in order to design new materials/technologies addressing the issues of our times.

Research in the Division includes areas such as theoretical physics and physical chemistry; catalysis and bioengineering; polymers and composites; energy production, storage and conversion; water purification and environmental protection; novel materials, nanodevices and systems; sensors and smart devices for the detection of pollutants and the purification of air, water, and food; earth sciences, mechanics and geomechanics; oil exploration and recovery; and CO2 sequestration.

Research in the PSE Division is driven by independent faculty labs and five Research Centers, which Faculty can affiliate with to perform applied, goal-oriented research. Centers affiliated with the Division include:

  • Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Research Center (AMPMC)
  • Catalysis Research Center (KCC)
  • Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC)
  • Solar Photovoltaics Engineering Research Center (SPERC)
  • Upstream Petroleum Engineering Research Center (UPERC)

Go to Division website

Research Centers

Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center (AMPMC)

​The Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center (AMPMC) at KAUST develops novel materials and cutting-edge process technologies that provide solutions to challenges related to industrial separations with a particular focus on energy and water as well as environmental sustainability. Researchers in AMPMC develop membranes and porous materials for separations in the fields of natural gas and petrochemicals, carbon capture, and the production of potable as well as industrial water.

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KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC)

​The KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC) gathers together inorganic, organic, organometallic, polymer and theoretical chemists, reaction engineers, and spectroscopists who take a "catalysis by design" approach to develop homogeneous, heterogeneous, photo- and bio-catalysts for the industrial, agricultural and consumer sectors. Researchers in KCC focus on the design, development and use of catalysts for energy, environment, health and materials applications.

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Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC)

​The challenges arising from the combustion of fossil fuels, such as pollution, global warming and climate change are some of the main concerns of researchers at KAUST's Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC). The activities of the Center span a broad spectrum with both fundamental and goal-oriented research in fuel formulation, fuel diversity and the control of emissions – from internal combustion engines to turbines. CCRC utilizes both experimental and computational tools to develop predictive capabilities for the development of more efficient and less polluting fuels. Projects include the development of innovative combustion processes with cleaner-burning fuels coupled to advanced technologies for their sustainable use with emphasis on ease of production, energy efficiency, and abatement of airborne pollution.

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Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC)

​Research at KAUST's Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC) encompasses computational biology and bioinformatics with applications in the life sciences. Researchers at CBRC develop computationally driven methodologies, tools and resources to speed-up the process of biological discovery. By developing methods to store, retrieve, organize and analyze vast amounts of data, the Center contributes to areas such as biotechnology and food, medicine, safety, and environmental protection.

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Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA)

​With harvest losses by drought, salt and heat stresses amounting to approximately 60% of the world's total agricultural productivity, researchers in the Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA) seek to find ways to improve the ability of plants to withstand droughts and the hot and salty environment of the desert. CDA researchers use genetic, genomic and epigenetic approaches to engineer stress-tolerant plants and apply their results directly to crop plants in the field.

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Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC)

​The Extreme Computing Research Center (ECRC) creates algorithms and develops software to harness the exponentially increasing power of computer hardware for predictive simulation and to understand and exploit the deluge of digital scientific data produced at KAUST and beyond. Researchers at ECRC focus on computational simulation and developing algorithms and applications for emerging computing architectures.

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Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)

​KAUST's Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) is developing an integrated understanding of the various ecosystems of the Red Sea. In particular, emphasis is placed on coral reef ecosystems and their oceanographic context. Efforts are directed at gaining an understanding of the interplay between physical, chemical, biological, and geological factors as well as the stresses arising from natural and anthropogenic causes such as overfishing, coastal development, and global climate change. A main goal of the RSRC is to develop methods to sustain and conserve coral reef environments along the coast of the Red Sea.

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KAUST Solar Center

Researchers at the KAUST Solar Center focus on the generation, storage and conversion of solar energy. The Center draws together experts in materials science, chemistry and physics to explore innovative solutions for the harvesting and conversion of solar energy. Scientists study the fundamental processes involved in the conversion of photons into electricity and exploit their findings to design and develop the state-of-the-art materials used at the core of energy harvesting photovoltaic panels. In addition, the Center is involved in research and development studies aimed at minimizing the cost of photovoltaic panels while optimizing their performance in the sun-bathed but hot and dusty climatic conditions of the deserts of the Arabian peninsula.

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Upstream Petroleum Engineering Research Center (UPERC)

​UPERC produces fundamental multidisciplinary research, disruptive technology, and academic and engineering talent to address the world’s pressing energy geo-engineering and science problems. The intended impact of UPERC’s efforts will include increased hydrocarbon recovery around the world with reduced environmental and economic costs related to reservoir access and production.

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Visual Computing Center (VCC)

​Researchers at KAUST's Visual Computing Center (VCC) use multiscale modeling, multidimensional modeling and simulation techniques to develop methods to sense, model, simulate, process, understand and visualize all forms of visual information. VCC specifically develops novel applications for computational imaging and display, image and video understanding, geometric modeling and design, physical simulation and measurement and scientific visualization.

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Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC)

​Fresh water supplies across the globe are decreasing while, at the same time, production of potable water in desert and drought-ridden regions is extremely energy intensive. Researchers in the KAUST Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) focus on the development of new and optimized methods for low-energy water desalination and water reuse. The capabilities of WDRC extend from the laboratory scale to larger pilots with a view to transition the technologies to large-scale water production. While much activity is centered on membrane-based technologies, the goal of WDRC is to extend knowledge to other scalable approaches such as those involving the use of solar or waste heat as an energy source.

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Core Labs and Major Facilities


Advanced techniques for custom and routine chemical analysis ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Analytical Core Lab provides expert analytical services to the KAUST research community on a wide range of advanced analytical instrument​s. The 1000-square-meter facility includes a chromatography/mass spectroscopy lab, a trace metals analysis lab, a wet chemistry lab, a surface analysis lab and a molecular spectroscopy lab.​

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Next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics and proteomics The Bioscience Core Lab specializes in genomics, proteomics, FACS and high-throughput screening using state-of-the-art equipment and analysis. The lab enables researchers and industry partners to c​onduct next-generation genetic analysis and synthesis of cellular materials as well as protein identification and characterization.​​

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Coastal and Marine Resources

Expertise in marine operations, oceanographic instrumentation and wet lab experimentation The Coastal & Marine Resources Core Lab specializes in marine operations, oceanographic instrumentation and wet lab experimentation. It features equipment and manpower support f​​or scientific cruises, field sampling, instrument operations, scientific diving, and other research n​eeds in marine and coastal environments. This Core Lab operates and maintains small boats and a research vessel for oceanographic research and modern wet lab facilities for aquarium experiments and aquatic simulations.​

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Imaging and Characterization

Specializing in spectroscopy and microscopy for material, biological samples and device research ​​​​​​​​The Imaging & Characterization Core Lab specializes in spectroscopy and microscopy for material and device research to learn about the structure and composition of samples. It includes facilities for electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, physical characterization, surface science, and optical microscopy. The facility enables researchers to view samples at a scale ranging from millimeter to sub angstrom, providing a wide spectrum of imaging and characterization capabilities.

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Advanced fabrication on a micro and nano scale ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Nanofabrication Core Lab supports research in the fields of mi​croelectronics, electronic materials, nanotechnology, MEMS, biomedical and optical devices requiring a low-density particle environment. The Nanofabrication Core Lab is equipped with a 2,000 square meter cleanroom consisting of both class 100 and class 1000 areas. It is fully equipped with a wide range of tools at the forefront of nanotechnology, providing a high level of versatility and support for nanofabrication. The Nanofabrication Core Lab also includes a thin film lab, which provides tools to support and enhance the thin film deposition process.​

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World-class supercomputing expertise for computationally-based science and engineering projects The Supercomputing Core Lab supports KAUST faculty, students and collaborators in their advanced use of high performance computing hardware and software. This facility boasts Middle East’s top performing supercomputer, Shaheen, a Cray XC40 supercomputer. The lab focuses on the application of high performance computing solutions using cutting-edge systems and methodologies, offering world-class HPC and data resources in a fashion that stimulates research and development.

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Visualization for high throughput computing, enabling data exploration and understanding ​Visualization enables intuition and curiosity, sparking discovery. Pursuing this vision as a supporting pillar of scientific progress at KAUST, the Visualization Core Lab advances the KAUST mission by catalyzing innovation and collaborative research. Through our staff’s expertise and the lab’s world-class facilities, our main focus is on visualization for high throughput computing. This is aimed at supporting key research-enabling investments, such as KAUST's Shaheen supercomputer, by applying the latest methodologies to explore, analyze, and present the vast quantities of generated data.

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Research-driven plant growth facility operating at the forefront of agricultural innovation ​​The Greenhouse Core Lab supports all plant-based research conducted at KAUST. The greenhouse is a 1600-square-meter facility that includes a head house and individually climate controlled growth rooms. The facility enables researchers to control and study pl​ant growth using specialized growth rooms and innovative agricultural equipment.

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​Design and manufacturing support to fabricate customized experimental tools and equipment ​​​The Central Workshops provide advanced design, equipment and manufacturing to assist in the fabrication of customized experimental tools and equipment for KAUST users and industrial partners. The facility features workshops and staff specializing in engineering and design utilizing CAD software, advanced machine shop technology, scientific glass blowing, welding, woodworking, electronics and metrology.

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Faculty Research Areas

Research Funding and Support

​The Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) supports research at KAUST from ideas to impact. Ideas are the focus of our Research Services unit, as it works with KAUST researchers to develop research projects internally or with best-in-class global collaborators. Our Competitive Research Funds unit employs a global peer review process to discern which ideas are the most meritorious and strategic, and hence warrant investment of KAUST resources. Our Research Evaluation unit focuses on impact, as it evaluates outcomes of basic and goal-driven research, and examines how these should guide future actions.

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​Research is the central pillar and mission of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The Office of the Vice President for Research champions and advocates excellence in all basic and goal-oriented research endeavors at the University.

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​The Office of Academic Writing Services (AWS) gathers together editors, scientific illustrators, web designers and scientific communication specialists to support KAUST faculty members in the presentation and publication of their research.

AWS aims to assist faculty members in communicating their ideas through words and images so that they are assured that publication decisions are based on the merit of their work and not on the quality of their grammar, presentation or design skills. The office offers five services: comprehensive text editing and proofreading, scientific illustration, web design for research-related websites, scientific communications training for postdoctoral fellows and research scientists, and plagiarism checking using the web-based iThenticate software program.

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​KAUST seeks to attract high-caliber Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists to support the University's research mission. Coming from across the globe, the University's Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists bring new knowledge and innovative techniques to create a collaborative environment in which ideas and initiatives are continuously cultivated. 

In support of the mission of the Vice President for Research​, Postdoctoral and Researcher Support endeavors to:

· Ensure a conducive environment where Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists can advance their research experience and scholarly training;

· Identify, implement and coordinate professional development programs for Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists;

· Provide a liaison for engagement with other University departments on matters pertaining to Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists.

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