Driving sustainability through science

At KAUST, sustainability is a driving factor in nearly every bit of research. KAUST faculty and students alike understand the very real-world necessity of their work and are putting sustainability front and center. 

KAUST President Tony Chan made clear that universities can no longer limit themselves only to the traditional role of education, research, and innovation. “The window of time for action is narrow and closing and the scale and response needed requires the whole of society to take action”. 

At KAUST’s inaugural Research Open Week, in December 2021. Researchers from KAUST and other institutions, as well as companies such as McLaren, which aims to achieve Net Zero emissions in racing, and Aramco, which is working on shifting to green energy, gathered to talk about the looming challenges of climate change and sustainability. “Our plan will include renewable energy deployment, energy efficiency, carbon capture, water and wastewater management, marine and coastal protection, revegetation of marginal lands, and community programs,” stated President Chan.

The role of science in sustainability

Solutions need to happen today and tomorrow. And, most importantly, any and all policy decisions must be anchored firmly in science. KAUST students are working alongside leading researchers toward those goals.

In a recent example of this work, KAUST scientists are developing a new technology that can produce fresh water for a fraction of the cost of current state-of-the-art solar desalination technologies. Marcella Bonifazi, a postdoc working on the project “The device produced fresh water for around one-third the cost of current state-of-the-art solar desalination technologies,”. Already collaborating with a commercial partner, a pilot is in development in Brazil to utilize this technology as a permanent solution not only for drinking and cooking needs but also for basic food production, benefiting millions of people in Brazil’s semiarid northeast region.

A fellowship for change

To further the work of sustainability and other key areas in food, water, environment, health and technology, KAUST has launched a three-year discovery doctoral fellowship for students from Europe and North America.

“Each student is full of passion, energy, and ideas. They see the window of time for action closing in front of their eyes. Let us act with resolve and be fully accountable to them.” added Chan.

If you’d like to apply for the KAUST Discovery Doctoral Fellowship, which covers all tuition and expenses for the duration of your program, click the link to learn more, and how to apply.

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