Interview with Brian MORAN, PhD, Dean of Graduate Affairs Named Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Brian MORAN: I’ve been at KAUST – King Abdullah University of Science And Technology for six and a half years. I joined KAUST in September 2008. I learned later that I was the first faculty member hired by KAUST. I joined KAUST because I wanted to be part of an amazing adventure and an opportunity to contribute to KAUST’s extraordinary mission and to education on the world stage.
M.B.M.: How would you describe KAUST in a few words? What are its distinguishing elements?
Brian MORAN: Put simply, KAUST represents unlimited opportunity. KAUST has world-renowned faculty, talented and ambitious students, a tremendous staff and the facilities and resources for you to pursue your research dreams.
M.B.M.: Can you name a few notable achievements obtained by KAUST students and faculty until now?
Brian MORAN: There are many, so I will pick just a couple that come to mind: KAUST Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Osman Bakr, led a team of researchers from KAUST’s Solar and Photovoltaics Engineering Research Center (SPERC) and the University of Toronto in developing a novel approach to growing a type of single crystal hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite at room temperature. The crystals have some remarkable properties in terms of their purity. This may open up new developments in solar photovoltaic technology. The work was recently published in the prestigious journal Science.
Professor Muhamad Hussain’s and his PhD student Justine Mink’s research in Electrical Engineering was named to Scientific American’s list of 10 world-changing ideas for 2014. They devised a means of powering tiny microbial fuel cells using saliva or, potentially, other bodily fluids. This discovery and accompanying device is changing the way we think about monitoring human health.
M.B.M.: Who are the direct beneficiaries of the research work performed at KAUST?
Brian MORAN: There are several. KAUST faculty, researchers, and students, publish their work in leading international journals so the research community at large, are beneficiaries. In addition, our industrial partners such as Saudi Aramco, SABIC, and DOW, support research at KAUST. They benefit from the goal-oriented work carried in our Research Centers and in faculty laboratories. Some of the research forms the basis for new companies established here in Saudi Arabia (several companies have been created to date) and this benefits the economy of the Kingdom.
M.B.M.: After more than 5 years of activity, how is KAUST regarded in the international academic world?
Brian MORAN: KAUST is very highly regarded among top universities around the world. Many of these universities are our academic partners, part of our global collaborative network. Leading faculty from all round the world who visit KAUST are amazed by the research facilities and by the caliber of our faculty. Of course, many of them are familiar with our faculty through long-standing collaborations or from their publications in leading journals. Others are learning of our talented young faculty who are themselves making their mark on the world research stage.
M.B.M.: What would you like to transmit to Romanian students who would be interested to study at KAUST?
Brian MORAN: I would like to say welcome! If you are talented and ambitious and want to join a world-class university with top faculty and facilities that are unparalleled anywhere in the world, KAUST may be the place for you. Take a look at our website at www.kaust.edu.sa to learn about our latest research and discoveries and to get some insights into life at KAUST. It’s a great place to live and study or work and I am proud to call it home. KAUST offers very generous Fellowships to its students including a competitive stipend, free housing, travel to and from KAUST and one round-trip ticket home each year. Most of all, it is an amazing environment for study and research. Students from over 60 different countries think so, including Romania, of course. Also, check out our Visiting Student Research Program at http://www.kaust.edu.sa/internship/. The Program is competitive, but a great opportunity to see KAUST.
M.B.M.: Is the university leadership open for potential academic collaborations with research institutes from Romania?
Brian MORAN: KAUST establishes collaborations where there is a strong grassroots connection between faculty in the two universities and where there is the possibility for sustained collaboration that can enhance the research efforts of each. Where that connection does not exist initially, it can potentially be fostered through students coming to KAUST for the MS or PhD and through these connections research collaboration may evolve.