The theme of the University's 2019 Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) was "time." It represented an opportune moment for KAUST to welcome members of the McLaren Group to campus to discuss the recently signed extreme performance research partnership between KAUST and McLaren.Write comment (0 Comments)
In the world of Formula 1 racing, the difference between the quickest driver or the fastest car and the team finishing last comes down to mere fractions of a second per lap. Over the course of an average race of 70 laps, this means a gap of one to two minutes. Those crucial few hundredths of a second that make all the difference are the result of many things: the aerodynamics of the vehicle; the weight of the car; race strategy; the driver; the tires; and the fuel composition.Write comment (0 Comments)
The Red Sea—particularly south of the Gulf of Aqaba and along the Saudi Arabian coast—has been vastly unexplored and little is known about its biodiversity. The establishment of KAUST within the last decade has been transformational in terms of beginning the process of gathering vital data over time. As the largely unspoiled coastal areas of the Red Sea are being developed with a future focus on eco-tourism, it has become increasingly important to catalogue its ecosystem's various inhabitants that make up its biodiversity.Write comment (0 Comments)
“Tropical marine ecosystems are under mounting anthropogenic pressure from overfishing and habitat destruction, leading to declines in their structure and function on a global scale,” said Associate Professor of Marine Science Michael Berumen from the KAUST Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) in a paper co-authored with colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).
Berumen heads the Reef Ecology Lab at KAUST, and the group dedicates itself to projects aimed at collecting data that will eventually be used to “guide the design and implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) within Saudi Arabia and other study areas,” he said.
One theme the projects have in common is movement ecology. This subject has been used to study various types of Earth-bound ecological patterns ranging from human migrations based on land use to how animals adapt to various habitats and climate conditions. Applying this approach to marine ecosystems, seascape connectivity similarly tries to understand the interconnectedness between separate marine habitats. Why do certain fish migrate from one place to another? What regulates those spatiotemporal marine patterns?
In fishes, it has been observed that large-scale movements tend to be more common in larger animals like sharks. One of these RSRC research projects that began in 2009 focuses on tracking the movement of whale sharks.
KAUST news sat down with Royale Hardenstine, one of the group’s Ph.D. students, to learn more about the ongoing whale shark tagging project.
“Basically for the whale sharks in the Red Sea, the research that Professor Michael Berumen and the lab started back in 2009 was the first work coming out of the Red Sea on whale sharks. We do the majority of the work on the Red Sea whale sharks,” Hardenstine said.
The Reef Ecology Lab works in collaboration with the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) based in Mozambique. And some of the acoustic telemetry tools used by KAUST in the Red Sea were employed to assist with research in Tanzania, where 30 whale sharks were tagged in Kilindoni Bay.
Hardenstine, who has long been passionate about the oceans, had a watershed experience while working on a whale shark aggregation in Tanzania during a semester as part of her undergraduate studies at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, U.S. She worked on an independent photo identification database project on Mafia Island in Tanzania.
“After I left, I was hooked on whale sharks,” she said.
“One of the most important things about corals isn’t that they’re beautiful—it’s the fact that they are essential in building ecosystems. They’re basically a foundation species,” said Manuel Aranda, KAUST assistant professor of marine science.Write comment (0 Comments)
“2009 marked the first time in history that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in cities. It’s expected that by 2030 we’ll see the urban population grow from today’s 3.5 billion to 4.7 billion,” said Rainer Speh, chief technology officer (CTO) at Siemens Ltd, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He recently shared this data with a group of KAUST students and scientists as part of a Saudi Initiatives Company Day held at the University.Write comment (0 Comments)
"Our eyes are the equivalent of two cameras," says KAUST Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor, Bernard Ghanem. Much like cameras, human beings essentially record video. We then process these images we intake to make decisions in our day-to-day lives. We know, for example, to stay away from a barking dog, not to touch a hot stove or not to walk onto unsafe surfaces. What if we could teach machines how to do the same thing? In fact, that's what computer vision and machine learning are all about – inputting visual stimuli, classifying the information and making a decision.Write comment (0 Comments)
"About 150 kilometres of Jeddah's coastline has become useless for sea creatures. If the level of pollution is not controlled or treated then the Kingdom will soon have to import fish and shrimps to meet its demands," warned Dr. Ahmad Ashour from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection (PMEP), when speaking to local Saudi media in the past year.Write comment (0 Comments)
At the onset of the 1990s, an international scientific endeavour known as the Human Genome Project set out to map the sequence of human DNA. Once the human genome sequencing was successfully completed in 2003, scientists around the world had access to an unprecedented database, or roadmap, to understand our molecular constitution, mechanisms and development.Write comment (0 Comments)
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