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Keynote Speaker

Dava Sobel

Sobel was born on June 15, 1947, in The Bronx, New York City. She graduated from The Bronx High School of Science and Binghamton University. She wrote Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time in 1995. The story was made into a television movie. Her book Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from the University of Bath and Middlebury College.

Giulio Tononi

Giulio Tononi received his medical degree from the University of Pisa, Italy, where he specialized in Psychiatry. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry, Distinguished Professor in Consciousness Science, the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness. His laboratory studies consciousness and its disorders as well as the mechanisms and functions of sleep. Dr. Tononi’s main contribution in the study of sleep has been the development of a comprehensive hypothesis about the function of sleep, the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, sleep serves to renormalize synaptic strength, counterbalancing a net increase of synaptic strength due to plasticity during wakefulness.

John Ellis

John Ellis holds the Clerk Maxwell Professorship of Theoretical Physics at King's College in London. After his 1971 PhD from Cambridge University, he worked at SLAC, Caltech, and CERN (Geneva), where he was Theory Division Leader for six years. Much of his work relates directly to interpreting results of searches for new particles. He was one of the first to study how the Higgs boson could be produced and discovered. He is currently very active in efforts to understand the Higgs particle discovered recently at CERN, as well as its implications for possible new physics such as dark matter and supersymmetry. John Ellis was awarded the Maxwell Medal and the Paul Dirac Prize by the Institute of Physics. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Institute of Physics, and is an Honorary Fellow of King's College Cambridge and of King's College London.

Jonathan Neale

Jonathan is Chief Operating Officer at McLaren Group. Graduating from Nottingham University in 1984 with an honours degree in physics, Jonathan began a lengthy career in the commercial and defence aerospace industry. He moved to BAE systems in 1991, and was promoted through the company, finally becoming director of operations and support operations at the Manchester and Prestwick Sites. In 1999 he returned to defence systems and aircraft, taking charge of the Hawk Fast Jet Programme as managing director. Jonathan joined McLaren Racing as operations director in 2001 to oversee the race team’s operations and engineering processes. He was appointed the company’s managing director in 2004, and chief operating officer and acting CEO in 2014.

Lando Norris

It’s lights out, McLaren's deadline has past. A prototype F1 car, made up of 16,000 ever-changing components, poised on the starting grid, ready to race. With an update every 15 minutes, racing in 21 global locations per year, how does the F1 team manage the race of innovation? What human and technological advancements have been implemented to maintain a competitive edge? Jonathan Neale, Group COO, who will discuss; is McLaren in the business of Motorsport or time?  

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Driver will also join us to explain the feeling of “lights out” and the time it takes to prepare for races and his first full season

Michael Young

Michael Young is an American geneticist who contributed to the discovery of molecular mechanisms that regulate circadian rhythm, the 24-hour period of biological activity in humans, and other organisms. He was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Young received his PhD in genetics in 1975 from UT Austin. Following a postdoc in biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine, he was appointed assistant professor at Rockefeller University. He was named professor and later, he was appointed the university’s vice president for academic affairs and Richard & Jeanne Fisher Professor.

Paolo Sassone-Corsi

Director, Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism, University of California, Irvine. Dr. Sassone-corsi's major interest is concentrated on the mechanisms of signal transduction able to modulate nuclear functions and, in particular gene expression, chromatin remodeling and epigenetic control. These events have important consequences for the understanding of cellular proliferation, oncogenesis and differentiation.

Rachel Sussman

Rachel Sussman is a contemporary artist based in Brooklyn. She is a Guggenheim, NYFA, and MacDowell colony fellow, and two-time ted speaker. Her critically acclaimed, decade-long project "the oldest living things in the world" combines art, science, and philosophy into a traveling exhibition and New York Times bestselling book. In 2014, she began developing new installation work deepening her explorations of personal and cosmic time, the universe, nature, philosophy, and beauty. With the support of the Lacma lab, and working with Spacex, NASA, and CERN, her new work can be found at MASS MoCa, the new museum Los Gatos, and the Des Moines Art Center. She is currently an artist in residency with the SETI institute. Her exhibition record spans more than a decade in museums and galleries in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Salim Al-Hassani

Salim T S Al-Hassani is President of the Foundation of Science, Technology and Civilisation (UK) and Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a Professorial Fellow in Humanities at the university of Manchester. Awarded Fellowship of the British Science Association for his work on the promotion of Science within Muslim culture. Founder of the portal: www.Muslimheritage.com. Published numerous papers in international journals and books. Editor of the book “1001 inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization”, which is published by National Geographic with a forward by HRH Prince Charles. Received numerous international awards and was repeatedly mentioned amongst the world’s most influential 500 Muslims in the category of Science and Technology, UK.

Uwaidh K. Al-Harethi

EVP for Technology & Innovation, SABIC 

Prior to his present posting, Mr. Al-Harethi was the Executive Vice President of the Chemicals business unit and, before that, the Vice President of Global Procurement Services. He has led sophisticated overseas manufacturing and service organizations with profit and loss responsibility up to $4.6 billion and more than 2500 employees. Al-Harethi is skilled at establishing operational excellence within culturally diverse environments, translating conceptual models into specific growth strategies, and planning/executing multi-faceted global business development campaigns designed to improve market share, gross revenue, and EBITDA. Mr. Al-Harethi is a Chemical Engineer and holds a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.


Adam Magyar

Adam Magyar (born 1972) is a Berlin-based Hungarian photographer and video artist captivated by high-tech cities. His work depicts life in the urban environment and his process is a symbiosis between technology and creative instinct. He is fascinated by the flow of time in the endless stream of lives in the world’s biggest mega-cities, and his work depicts his dream of capturing the different parts of a person or of a group of people at different times, in one single image.

Albara Al Auhali

Albara obtained his bachelor’s degree from KFUPM with first honors and pursued his MS in KAUST in computer sciences. He has worked at Saudi Aramco since 2009 and was appointed as a head of iThra, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, programs in 2016. He served as a Consultant for the Ministry of Economy and Planning in 2017, and he currently works as a Strategic Projects Director in Saudi Vision Realization Programs.

Ana Catarina D. Matias

Museum Lead for the Museum of Science & Technology is Islam at KAUST.

Andrea BachofenEcht

Andrea Bachofen-Echt, born in Vienna, Austria, works as an artist and curator for international exhibitions. She publishes her photographic work in international magazines. Currently she works for KAUST Communications Department as event and website photographer. Her work relates and responds to social and cultural interaction of people. Her task is to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art and the everyday events.

Brian Parrot

Brian is a Research Scientist with Saudi Aramco, where he's worked since 2012. He is working on the Intelligent Systems team, which has graduated four robotics-related projects since being formed in 2012. Brian has a BSc ‘10 in Biology, during which he conducted research on an EMG-controlled upper-body, robotic exoskeleton. He also has a MSc, '11, from KAUST in Chemical and Biological Engineering. He has been granted 7 patents by the USPTO and is the author of 4 journal articles in addition to receiving multiple awards for his work on the Intelligent Systems team in Aramco.

Bulent Erbilgin

Dr. Erbilgin has extensive academic experience teaching entrepreneurship courses at Northeastern University and University of California, Berkeley and leadership positions at different corporates and startups successfully releasing products in the market. Most recently Dr. Erbilgin lead the Security Software Development effort at Workday. These security products are used by the Workday ERP suite and span from encryption, Key Management System, Certificate Authority, Authentication, to IAM (Identity and Access Management). Dr. Bulent Erbilgin has over two decades of industry experience in technology and executive roles. Dr. Erbilgin holds a M.S. in Computer Engineering and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

Chiara Cirelli

Chiara Cirelli is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received her medical degree and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pisa, Italy. Dr. Cirelli’s research is aimed at investigating the fundamental mechanisms of sleep regulation by using a combination of molecular and genetic approaches. Together with her long-term collaborator, Dr. Giulio Tononi, she has developed a comprehensive hypothesis about the function of sleep, the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis, according to which sleep serves to renormalize synaptic strength, counterbalancing a net increase of synaptic strength due to plasticity during wakefulness. Without sleep, such progressive increase in synaptic strength would lead to unsustainable costs in terms of energy, space, and cellular supplies, would reduce the informativeness of neuronal signals, and would prevent further learning by bringing stronger synapses closer to their level of saturation. In short, according to this hypothesis sleep is the price to pay for brain plasticity during wakefulness.

David Rooney

Dr David Rooney is an award-winning writer and curator. He was most recently Keeper of Technologies and Engineering at the Science Museum, London, and formerly Curator of Timekeeping at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Specialising in the history of time, cities, technology and engineering, David was Lead Curator of the Science Museum's RIBA-award-winning Mathematics: The Winton Gallery (2016), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, as well as its critically acclaimed exhibition Codebreaker: Alan Turing's Life and Legacy (2012). He is a trustee of three UK horological charities, chair of the Electrical Horology Group, and sits on the management committee of the Clockmakers’ Museum, the oldest clock and watch museum in the world.

Eric Martin

Eric Martin graduated from KAUST in December 2010 as part of the University’s first graduating class with a master’s degree in environmental science and engineering, and describes himself as “a millennial, an entrepreneur and a family first kind of guy.”

He joined KAUST in 2009 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied mechanical engineering. During his time at KAUST, he also helped establish and manage the University’s VentureLab accelerator program.

Martin currently finds himself in the middle of a new chapter in his professional career, having recently made the switch from product and engineering to sales. He now works as an account executive as part of a sales team for a venture capital-backed tech company called DataFox based in Silicon Valley.

Francois de Ryckel

François de Ryckel has a master in Philosophy from the University of Paris 1 - Pantheon Sorbonne and also studied Logic. 
He is currently a Mathematics Teacher and ToK (Theory of Knowledge) at the KAUST School.  Before being in Saudi Arabia, he taught in Zambia, Bangladesh, Germany and Belgium.  


Hassan Al-Ismail

Hassn holds a MSc in geophysics from KAUST (2014) and a BS in geology and geophysics form UW-Madison (2010). He's now pursuing a part time MBA degree at HKUST and he is the Team Leader of the 2D Near Surface Modeling Team at Saudi Aramco. Previously, he worked in the same team as a geophysicist. When he was at KAUST, he won the IET Present Around the World competition (1st place in EMEA). Hassan was also selected to be the student speaker in the KAUST 2013 commencement ceremony. During his time at KAUST, he was the Chairman of the Graduate Student Council and President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists student chapter. When he joined Aramco, he was selected as one of the 16 members of the Young Leaders Advisory Board (4th cohort). Currently, Hassan is the Young Professionals Officer at Dhahran Geoscience Society.

Hassan Alsibyani

Hassan is Technical Lead at Wasphi. He holds an MSc in computer science from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. As a computer scientist, he seeks to find the best possible way to increase the quality of human life by using current technologies and creating new ones. He is interested to discover and implement methods in which the blockchain can yield novel solutions to improve the privacy of sensitive data.

Hassane Trigui

Hassane Trigui is a Research Engineer working in Saudi Aramco R&D Center at KAUST since 2012. He is leading the Intelligent Systems team; designing cutting-edge, business driven robotics solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Control and Instrumentation from KFUPM and Master’s in Electrical Engineering from KAUST. His research focuses on robotics, control, circuit design, and embedded programming. He has been rewarded with the CEO Excellence Recognition Award twice during his career in Saudi Aramco.

Ian McLeod

Ian Mcleod  is Co-Founder and director of Cinematic Science, a production company that specializes in creating inspiring science-based media content and training scientists & students in visual science communication. Also, he is a senior Research Scientist and Communications Manager in James Cook University (JCU), Australia. He has also produced videos on almost every continent. Ian is passionate about empowering others and gives workshops about careers in science, video production and science communication.

James Audretsch

James is currently a MS/PhD student in computer science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. He is interested in finding innovative solutions for blockchain technology. He has extensive experience as a full stack software engineer and has applied machine learning to detect earthquakes during an internship at KAUST. He is also a Python, Docker, and Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast.

Janis Tyhurst

Janis Tyhurst is the Senior Subject Specialist at KAUST’s library. She liaises with the CEMSE faculty to develop collections, resources and programs in addition to providing instruction for these areas. She has developed targeted seminar training for students and researchers on resources in respective areas highlighting value of patent and business resources for research and intellectual property (IP) development. 

Jesper Tegner

Jesper Tegner is a Professor in Bioscience and Computer Science at KAUST and an Adjunct Chaired Strategic Professor of Computational Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. He obtained the rank of chaired full professor 4.5 years after his PhD. He holds three separate undergraduate degrees with majors in MedSchool, Mathematics, and Philosophy respectively. Next he did two years postgraduate education in pure and applied mathematics, while doing an experimental Ph.D./M.D. degree in Medicine. He was a Visiting Scientist as a Wennergren and Alfred P Sloan Fellow (USA, 1998-2001) while holding a position as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science 1998-2002 at Royal Institute of Technology.

Jon Rawlinson

Jon Rawlinson is a filmmaker and producer with 15 years of experience producing television, video and media content. He has a passion for using the latest technological innovations to tell unique and compelling stories. Jon has produced more than 70 videos for clients around the world and is currently in development of a Virtual Reality series for a leading global network. Jon is a co-founder and CEO of Cinematic Science, a production company that specializes in producing science-based media content.

Josef Schovanec

Josef Schovanec, PhD, former French government advisor, is an activist in the field of autism and human biodiversity. During daily lectures and gatherings, he invites visitors to discover and enjoy his native country, the Autistan, the place of weird, and thus fascinatingly human, people.

Karen Ashe

Karen Ashe, MD, PhD, is the director of the N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care and holds the Edmund Wallace and Anne Marie Tulloch Chairs in Neurology and Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. She received her MD from Harvard University, and her PhD from MIT.  Her mouse models of Alzheimer's disease have been used the world over for validating genetic linkage studies, for understanding disease pathogenesis, for seeking markers of early disease processes, and for testing candidate therapies.  Among many honors, she has received the MetLife Award for Alzheimer’s disease research, the Potamkin Prize of the American Academy of Neurology, the Khalid Iqbal Lifetime Achievement Award of the Alzheimer’s Association, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. 

Mani Sarathy

Dr. Sarathy is currently Associate Director of the Clean Combustion Research Center at KAUST and Sr. Manager Technology & Innovation at NEOM Hydrogen and Green Fuels. He is also working with the Saudi Ministry of Energy to develop a Circular Carbon Economy National Program.

Dr. Sarathy employs engineering modeling tools to determine the net environmental, economic, and social impact of fuel engineering technologies and processes. Specific tools include engineering process modeling, life-cycle assessment, cost/benefits analysis, energy auditing, materials accounting, and environmental assessment to examine current engineering issues. A primary focus is using models to study greenhouse gas emissions from renewable energy systems, unconventional fuels, gas-to-liquid fuels, and biofuels.

Marco Canini

Marco Canini is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at KAUST. ​Professor Canini‘s research interests are in the principled construction and operation of large scale networked computer systems, specifically in distributed systems, large-scale computing and computer networking with emphasis on cloud computing and programmable networks. His current work focuses on improving networked systems design, implementation and operation along several vital properties such as reliability, performance, security and energy efficiency.

Mark Barnett

Head of Strategy McLaren Formula 1. Head of Strategy for some of the most respected teams within Formula One. Guiding short-medium and long term strategy by working to align business priorities with regulatory changes and opportunities created within the sporting side of the business. Responsible for leading long term innovations and coordinating research and development partnerships.

Mark Ziembicki

Mark Ziembicki is a lead researcher and communication manager on the State of the Tropics initiative, a project that brings together leading research institutions from across the world’s tropics to assess social, economic, and environmental issues in the region. His research is interdisciplinary with a focus on wildlife ecology and biodiversity conservation. Mark is also a passionate advocate for the communication and advancement of science, an accomplished photographer and a co-founder of Cinematic Science.

Martin Van Kranendonk

Professor Martin Van Kranendonk is a geologist and astrobiologist, working on some of the world’s oldest rocks and the record of life trapped therein. He is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology and has recently become involved in the search for life on Mars via NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. His main interests are Archean tectonics and the geological setting of early life on Earth, and he is widely published in these fields. Martin is the Chair of the Precambrian Subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, an associate editor of the journals Precambrian Research, Geology, Astrobiology, and Episodes, co-leader of IGCP 599 “Changing Early Earth”, and Core member of the International Precambrian Research Centre of China. He has appeared on numerous television and radio documentaries on early Earth, and has been involved in educational outreach programs for school children and the general public.

Nadya Suvorova

Nadya is an interactive media artist based in Zurich. At the intersection of art, science and play, she invents poetic journeys using emerging technologies. She pulls her inspiration from the observation of the natural world. Her interactive works spark curiosity to playfully engage access to and awareness of our natural world through digital media. She has shown her work internationally at the ZKM Karlsruhe, Cité du Design at Saint Etienne, Museum of Arts (MoA) Seoul, Hammer Museum etc.

Noemi Daucé

 Noëmi Daucé is currently Chief Curator at Louvre Abu Dhabi in charge of Archaeology. She is also managing the Research policy of the museum. A former student of the National Heritage Institute in Paris (INP), she is a graduate of Archaeology and Art History at the University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre. In 2010, she was appointed Curator for Archaeology in the French Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology of Besançon and participated to the renovation of the museum and to the construction of the new storage area. She has been involved in the project of the Louvre Abu Dhabi since 2014 when she joined Agence France Museum as the curator for Archaeology and settled in Abu Dhabi to prepare the opening of the LAD. She has developed the LAD collection with major acquisitions, overviewing their conservation treatment, study and valorization through associated interpretation tools.  She has supervised the installation of the collection of the French Loans in the First Wing of the Permanent Galleries, running from Prehistory to Late Antiquity. Being in charge of local and international loans, she has fostered international cooperation with other institutions in the UAE but also with Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Paolo di Croce

Paolo Di Croce, graduated in Environmental Engineering at the University of Turin and began working for Slow Food in 1998 to coordinate its projects – such as the Ark of Taste and Presidia – in defense of the environment and biodiversity. From 2003 to 2006 Paolo served as the General Secretary of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, which defends the biodiversity of our foods and gastronomic traditions from the world over, promotes sustainable agriculture, respect for the environment, for cultural identities, and for the wellbeing of animals. Since 2005, Paolo is the Secretary-General of the Terra Madre Foundation and serves as International Secretary of the Slow Food International Board of Directors, the highest governing body of Slow Food International.

Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett will be the instructor of the Old Jeddah Tour. As part of the Graduate Events and Recreation Team at KAUST, Paul manages various events and activities to serve the extracurricular needs of graduate students. This team is part of Graduate Affairs. Their mission is to assist graduate students in starting new groups or associations and in providing the necessary services for the groups’ activities. They also organize yearly events such as the Orientation for new students and the Expo for student groups to showcase their programs, among others.

Priyamvada Natarajan

Priyamvada Natarajan, Professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, is a theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Her research involves mapping the detailed distribution of dark matter in the universe exploiting the bending of light en-route to us from distant galaxies. In particular, she has focused on making dark matter maps of clusters of galaxies, the largest known repositories of dark matter. Her work has demonstrated that cluster strong lensing offers a unique and potentially powerful laboratory to test evolving dark energy models.

Robert Frith

Creative Director, Idea Lab, Ithra – The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. Robert has worked in the Creative and Cultural industries for the past 20 years. He is currently thoroughly enjoying working as part of the programs team at Ithra to inspire creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the Kingdom. With a passion for creativity where ever he sees it, Robert is currently curating Tanween, Ithra Creativity Festival launching this October.

Robert has worked as head of exhibitions for Christie’s, a senior exhibition designer at The British Museum and research fellow at University College of the Arts, Bournemouth. Robert holds an MA in Design Products from The Royal College of Art, London.

Roger Wattenhofer

Roger is a full professor at the Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Department, ETH Zurich, Switzer­land. He received his doctorate in Computer Science from ETH Zurich. He also worked at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His research interests are a variety of algorithmic and systems aspects in computer science and information technology. His work received multiple awards, e.g. the Prize for Innovation in Distributed Computing for his work in Distributed Approximation. He published the book “Distributed Ledger Technology: The Science of the Blockchain“, which has been translated to Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Sahejad Patel

Sahejad Patel, a 2011 KAUST master’s degree graduate, works on SWIM-R, or Shallow Water Inspection and Monitoring Robot, in the Aramco lab on the KAUST campus.

Sarah Aljuffali

 A passionate chef with a conscious awareness of holistic eating; specializing in wholesome seasonal cooking, modern middle eastern dishes and the unique pairing of ingredients. An educational background in both Psychology and Nutrition from The University of Glasgow, a Diploma in Fine French Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu; well known for “making healthy food delicious”.

Tad Patzek

KAUST Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Eng. Prof. Tad Patzek's research involves mathematical (analytic and numerical) modeling of earth systems with emphasis on multiphase fluid flow physics and rock mechanics. He also works on smart, process-based control of very large waterfloods in unconventional, low-permeability formations, and on the productivity and mechanics of hydrocarbon bearing shales

Valerio Orlando

Valerio Orlando is Professor of Bioscience at KAUST Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division and Head of KAUST Environmental Epigenetics Program (KEEP). Orlando’s lab interest is the exploration of the epigenetic and noncoding genome mechanisms that allow cells to adapt to the changing environment and how these matter for development, environmental stress, neuromuscular disease, and somatic cell reprogramming.

Vanessa Robitzch

Dr. Vanessa Robitzch was born on San Andres Isla, in the Colombian Caribbean. Amazed by the magnitude of our oceans and its mysterious inhabitant, she went on to study a Bachelor of Science in biology, at the University of Regensburg, Germany. She continued with a Masters in International Studies of Aquatic Tropical Ecology (ISATEC) at the Center for Marine Tropics (ZMT) in Bremen, Germany. In Fall, 2013, she joined the Reef Ecology Lab at KAUST as a PhD student in marine biology. Currently, Vanessa works as a postdoctoral research assistant for the Laboratory of Genomics and Molecular Ecology, in the Faculty of Ecology and Evolutionary Sciences at the Austral University of Chile (UACh), Valdivia.

Vasiliki Kordopati

Vasiliki is a Computer Engineer, and she holds an MSc in Computer Science from KAUST (2017). Since then, she changed her life from being a Computer Engineer to a General Manager of a startup. Vasiliki is a co-founder and CEO of Oæsis a spin-off KAUST startup. Oæsis is the world's first company that utilizes laser technology for growing plants. 2018 was a successful year for Vasiliki and her team, where they were one of the TAQADAM Accelerator Program winners, winners of StartupSaudi and top 10 in StartupIstanbul global competition.

Yiqiang Fan

is an associate professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China, since 2015. He received a B.S. from Tianjin University in 2009, and as a founding student, he received an M.S. from KAUST. He obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2015. His research interests lie in polymer microfluidics and the related applications in life science and medicine


Christos Chatzichristidis

Christos Chatzichristidis, Senior Lecturer in the Physical Science and Engineering Division at KAUST University, is a high energy astrophysicist interested in alternative Astronomies with γ-rays and neutrinos and in Science Education Research. After receiving his Ph.D. from Durham University (2009), he worked as a Lecturer at University of Athens, University of Patras, Technical University of Crete, and as a visiting Professor of Physics at University of Crete. In the realm of secondary education, he has taught IB Physics at the KAUST schools and was awarded the Ogden Trust Teaching fellowship. Christos research work focuses on the development of a viable Atmospheric Monitoring Strategy for ground-based γ-ray telescopes to both characterize the systematic uncertainties in γ-ray event reconstruction and to minimize any loss of data due to non-optimal atmospheric conditions. His work has found practical application in the development of a novel aviation transmissometer that is easy to align, uses very little power, and is lightweight and portable, enabling its use not only in civil airports, at altitudes exceeding all prior-art aviation transmissometers, but also in tactical military applications, such as remote landing strips. Christos has published 65 refereed articles with citations exceeding 8000 leading to an h-index of 46.

Hattan Ahmed

Hattan currently leads the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, delivering the university’s entrepreneurship vision. He believes in young people as change agents of the future and that universities play a key role in creating national economic impact. In his role as an advocate for innovation, Hattan works across the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom, delivering entrepreneurship training, creating corporate innovation programs, and accelerating startups that will contribute to the national transformation agenda. Hattan has a diverse background in industry, startups and academia. As a startup co-founder, he brings a successful entrepreneurial background to his role, having navigated early stage growth to acquisition. He has received multiple entrepreneurial awards on both a national and international scale. He also brings a rich background in Information Technology to his role, with experience in system design development and implementation within industries ranging from oil and gas, travel and retail.

Matej Mlejnek

Research Interest: Graphics processing units, domain-specific languages for visualization.

Melissa L. Manuel

Melissa is a 500 hour registered yoga instructor who specializes in developing and delivering yoga teacher training programs for new and experienced instructors. Along with teaching yoga, Melissa is also a gymnastics, fitness, and acrobatics instructor who has trained, performed, and taught worldwide with companies such as Ecole Nationale du Cirque in Montreal and Beijing International Arts School. With over 10 years in the health and fitness industry, Melissa aims to create a supportive and engaging environment that allows students to learn about movement for longevity and life-long health

Mounzer Saleh

Mounzer Saleh is an Applications Engineering Specialist at National Instruments. He provides high level technical support and consultation to NI’s regional clients. Consequently, Mounzer regularly delivers training sessions, conducts technical seminars, and provides on-site start up assistance to premium customers in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf region. He is also a Certified LabVIEW Embedded systems Developer (CLED) which demonstrates his proficiency and expertise in analyzing requirements, designing, developing, debugging, and deploying high end embedded control and monitoring applications based on National Instruments Real-time and FPGA targets.

Peter Rautek

Peter Rautek is a Research Scientist at the Visual Computing Center at KAUST. He is passionate for making things manifested in joint electronics projects and mobile apps like Epic (mobilesynergies.org), uberdice (uberdice.thomashollt.com), and Visual Experience, a KAUST seed funded and award winning startup focusing on virtual reality experiences. Peter founded, and is the acting president of, KAUST’s Maker Space SDG. He has co-authored and co-hosted several WEP courses in 2016 and 2017.

Umair Bin Waleed

Umair bin Waheed is a KAUST alumni and a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Geosciences, Princeton University. Since finishing his postdoc in 2017, Umair has been at the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences, KFUPM as Assistant Professor. In addition to conducting scientific research, Umair has always been curious about communicating scientific findings. During his time as a postdoc at Princeton, he worked with the Princeton Writing Program (PWP) as a Writing in Science and Engineering Fellow under the mentorship of Judy Swan. He received intensive training in teaching writing at the PWP. Later he taught courses on scientific writing to graduate students from across disciplines at Princeton. Encouraged by the positive feedback from his students, Umair now conducts workshops helping students across different universities to effectively communicate their scientific discoveries through writing.


Ali Diop

From Senegal, West Africa, Alboury Diop has been playing drums from a young
age. Born into a community of drummers and dancers, Alboury was surrounded
by the rich musical traditions of Senegal in his everyday life.
Part of the Africa Djembe Group, Alboury regularly plays at festivals and for
dignitaries and famous visitors to his hometown. He has performed at various
festivals and events around Senegal, Morocco and Italy and in 2010 till 2014 he
worked with the pioneering drumming group (African Drumming And Dance
Connection) in Hong Kong. He also had the opportunity to perform for the likes
of President Obama when he visited his hometown Goree Island‐Senegal.
Currently Alboury is in Senegal working as bandleader for (Africa Djembe group)
performing and running workshops for international students.

Makha Diop

Makha Diop, Director, African Drumming and Dance ConnectionMakha Diop was born and raised in Senegal, West Africa, where he grew up playing djembe, a traditional African drum, and other percussion instruments. He is a passionate and experienced teacher of the African drumming tradition.As a young man, Makha was a member of the Africa Djembe group, a talented group of drummers based on Goree Island, in Senegal.In 2001, Makha was invited to Hong Kong to perform. He stayed and established the African Drumming and Dance Connection, Hong Kongメs only African-owned drumming company. Since 2001, Makha has taught and performed extensively throughout Hong Kong, China and other East Asian countries.

Opera in Roma

Opera in Roma, leader in musical entertainment, opera and traditional music, has always promoted opera, ballet and Italian tradition with the aim of spreading and preserving the musical and artistic heritage of our culture. Opera, considered Intangible World Heritage from Unesco, is world-renowned and identified with genius, passion, “art of life” and elegance. With love, dedication, skill and high competence in music industry, we perform several concerts throughout the year in wonderful locations like theaters, churches, castles and historical buildings with a high historical and cultural importance. 

Interactive Exhibit

Escape Hunt

How did all this awesomeness come about? Escape Hunt began life in 2013 when they opened our first branch in Bangkok. Inspired by great online computer games such as Myst and Crimson Room they set out to create something utterly different but equally compelling. The result is a truly immersive experience where Escape Hunters are transported to another era to solve a mind-twisting mystery created by Escape Hunt Studios – the global game design team.



Aida Rivera

Aida Rivera, PE is a licensed professional engineer, educator, design consultant and co-founder of d.heritage2tech. Beginning her career at NASA she has worked in risk analysis modeling, project management, structural, civil, earthquake and mechanical engineering. Aida earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and M.S. in Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering from Stanford University followed by postgraduate research in Mechanical Engineering at Monash University in Australia as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Fellow. 


Atlab Ltd.

ATLAB is a technology based hands-on learning solutions company that is focused on providing innovative educational training systems and laboratory equipment of the highest quality to Educational Institutions, Technical Universities, and Industrial (Vocational) Training Centers.http://www.atlabme.com/

Mardson Mcquay

Mardson McQuay is Associate General Counsel and Senior IP Attorney at KAUST. He is a former tenured professor of Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University and Senior VP and Chief IP Counsel at CGG, France. He also spent four years as an Associate in a law firm and five years as a Senior IP attorney at GE. He has been an invited lecturer on the topic of IP all over the world.

Marie-Laure Boulot

Marie-Laure Boulot is the Enrichment Office director at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). She sets strategies, oversees program development and positions KAUST's enrichment programs in Saudi Arabia and in the international landscape. She graduated from Paris Dauphine University where she studied finances and marketing. Marie-Laure joined KAUST as a founding staff member in 2009. Starting with the inaugural 2010 Winter Enrichment Program, Marie-Laure has successfully spearheaded the development and expansion of the University's enrichment programs that expand the minds of not only students but also faculty, staff and community members and in-Kingdom guests.

Myraida Rivera

Myraida Rivera, AIA is a licensed architect, civil engineer, project manager, and design consultant. Prior to co-founding  d.heritage2tech she worked in pharmaceutical, commercial, residential, and product design projects. At KAUST, she co-founded its Makerspace (currently ProtoLab) and recently instructed KAUST’s first FabAcademy. Myraida received an undergraduate degree in Environmental Design and graduate degrees in Architecture from the University of Puerto Rico and Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering and Management from Stanford University.

Nasser Alsalem

Nasser Al-Salem’s work is essentially the Arabic written word, therefore he is first and foremost a calligrapher. His practice pushes the boundaries of this age-old Islamic art by re-inventing it in non-conventional mixed media forms and by exploring its conceptual potential. Nasser Al-Salem was born in the Holy City of Mecca and Al-Salem has exhibited internationally at ‘Edge of Arabia’ shows in Istanbul (2009) and Jeddah (2012) and he has also participated in the British Museum’s Hajj exhibition (2012), where not shortly after, his work “Zamzam” was acquired by the museum. Most recently, Nasser has participated in the Echoes exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City [2013] and Calligraffiti at Leila Heller Gallery in New York [2013], The Language of Human Consciousness at Athr Gallery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia [2014] and Common Grounds at Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany [2015]

Nicholas Demille

Nicholas Demille is the head of University Editorial Services - the KAUST team responsible for publishing the official English language social channels, website, The Beacon and The Lens. Before joining KAUST he worked as an agency copywriter for numerous Fortune 100 brands. He also lived with the Maasai as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. Demille earned a master's degree in Global Journalism from Indiana University

Sandra Katakalea

Sandra Katakalea is an HR & Organizational Development Professional with 20 years of experience and expertise in all facets of HR, leadership and talent development. Her experience involves occupying management roles in the banking and telecommunications sectors while at KAUST, she is Head of Talent Management, supporting the development of staff by designing and resourcing learning and development solutions along with the provision of consulting and coaching.

Todd Nims

Todd Albert Nims is a Saudi-born American producer heavily involved in the Gulf region’s cinema and entertainment development. Mr. Nims is known for producing the feature films JOUD (2019) and BORN A KING (2019) for release to cinemas in 2019. He held the Film Producer position at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s state-of-the-art hub for inspiring creativity and global culture, Ithra, for six years where he established the Kingdom’s first cinema and assisted in launching the first Saudi Film Days (saudifilmdays.com) program to provide funding and development to Saudi filmmakers while screening their films in Hollywood. Mr. Nims owns a AB Media, a media consultancy business based in the USA and Empty Quarter Entertainment, a tech media company, based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.