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First PhD Graduates Among Third Graduating Class of KAUST

THUWAL, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At a Commencement ceremony overlooking the Red Sea, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is conferring its inaugural PhD degrees. The ten PhD graduates – who engaged in research in areas from computational modeling of materials systems, Red Sea research, plant stress genomics, to mathematical techniques for geophysical subsurface imaging – are among KAUST's third cohort of graduates. KAUST is a graduate research university in Saudi Arabia striving for the highest standards in scholarship and service.

"Graduating our first PhDs is a significant milestone in our University's journey of global excellence to bring knowledge in service of society," said KAUST President Choon Fong Shih. "KAUST is a young institution and its history is still being written. As our pioneering graduates join the global community of scholars, we hope they will play a part in serving humanity through finding scientific and engineering solutions to the challenges of the Kingdom and beyond."

Among the inaugural doctoral graduates is Marie-Jean Thoraval, from the mechanical engineering program. When Thoraval left his hometown in the French Alps, little did he know that his academic career would ultimately lead him to earning his PhD in Saudi Arabia. First studying at Ecole Polytechnique and later at Supaero (ISAE) specializing in Fluid Dynamics, he continued to the National University of Singapore to work with Dr. Sigurdur Thoroddsen on high-speed imaging of drops and bubbles. When Professor Thoroddsen took a position at a brand new university called KAUST, Thoraval jumped at the opportunity to continue working with his advisor in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Thoraval was published in Physical Review Letters (von Karman Vortex Street within an Impacting Drop). He looks forward to continuing his research at KAUST as a postdoctoral fellow.

In addition to doctoral degrees, almost 200 master's degrees will also be conferred. Hashim Kamakhi is an MS graduate from the chemical and biological engineering program. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Kamakhi joined KAUST after completing his bachelor's degree at The University of New South Wales in Australia. When he learned of KAUST in 2009, the University's bold aspiration to advance science and technology drew him back to his home country. After graduation, Kamakhi will join The Dow Chemical Company (a founding industrial partner of KAUST) as an application development engineer at the Dow Middle East and Africa R&D Center at KAUST.

Thoraval, Kamakhi, and their Class of 2012 peers will be addressed at the December 14, 2012 Commencement ceremony by distinguished Lord Alec Broers - a globally-renowned scientist and engineer, former chairman of the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, past president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and former Vice-Chancellor of University of Cambridge.

About KAUST

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is an international, graduate research university dedicated to advancing science and technology through interdisciplinary research, education, and innovation. Students, faculty, scientists, and engineers conduct fundamental and goal-oriented research to address the world's pressing scientific and technological challenges related to water, food, energy, and the environment.

Located on the shores of the Red Sea near the city of Jeddah, KAUST is the first LEED certified project in Saudi Arabia and the largest LEED Platinum project in the world. In 2011, KAUST was named Lab of the Year by leading science and technology publication, R&D Magazine. The following year, the University's Research Park was named the 2012 Emerging Research and Science Park by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). www.kaust.edu.sa

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