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Amna Malik

Amna Malik is Clinical Dietitian at KAUST Medical Clinic. After graduating from University of San Agustin Iloilo City, Philippines, she worked as a nutritionist and dietitian in King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, before becoming Director of the Clinical Dietetics Department in Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. She has more than 30 years of experience in running and managing Food Services and Dietetics in hospitals and holding dietary consultations. For many years, she has taught in King Abdul Aziz University Hospital and holds lectures on dietetics.


Ashwag Abdullah Albukhari

Ashwag Abdullah Albukhari is an Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology in the Biochemistry Department of King Abdulaziz University, in KSA.

Bernd Arold

Bernd Arold (born April 26, 1974 in Rüdesheim am Rhein) is a German chef. He is known from his cookbooks and appearances in radio and television.

Following the advice of his mother, he started a cooking apprenticeship in the restaurant "Backöfele " in Würzburg where he learned the basics of traditional Franconian cuisine. He passed his final examination with the grade "Very Good". He then worked in the restaurant "Käfer-Schänke " in Munich and the now-closed restaurant "Schweizer Stuben" in Bettingen. The "Schweizer Stuben" was long considered among the best restaurant in Germany and was acknowledged with two Michelin stars. Bernd Arold said he learned there "fine dining, the strict discipline, the perfect combinations and versatile flavor."

In addition, he trained as a carpenter. However, after the training period, he continued to work as a cook. His next stop led him into the "Mosquito" in Würzburg. By his own admission, the most beautiful station of his cooking career, however, was the "Drei Stuben" in Meersburg headed by Stefan Marquard.

After his time in the "Drei Stuben", he joined the restaurant Lenbach in Munich, together with Stefan Marquard. Subsequently, he cooked for the first time as a chef in the restaurant “ess9”. Since July 26, 2008 he cooks in his first own restaurant "Der Gesselschaftsraum" in Munich, where his creations are presented in a seventies’ atmosphere.

He published a number of books, included Vegetarian for Meatlovers, Kitchen Classix, Bavaria cooks, Cookbook for the Young Savages.



Bettina Berger

Bettina Berger is the Scientific Director of The Plant Accelerator, Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

After a degree in biotechnology and a PhD in molecular biology of plants, she used a two-year fellowship to focus on the emerging field of plant phenomics. She joined the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics in 2008, where she used non-destructive imaging to study the effects of salinity on barley.

When The Plant Accelerator opened in 2010, she joined the team as Senior Scientist and became Scientific Director in 2015. The Plant Accelerator is one of the nodes of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) funded under the National Collaborative Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and provides critical infrastructure and services to the plant science community in Australia and abroad. In her roles, she has set up novel screening techniques to study plant growth and performance using automated, non-destructive imaging. She has managed large scale phenotyping projects looking at various aspects of crop performance, including early vigour, salinity tolerance and nutrient use efficiency.

Visit her profile page to learn more about her.

Bruno Pulido

Bruno Pulido is a Ph.D. candidate enrolled in the KAUST environmental and science engineering program. With his chemistry background, he is currently working at the development of high-performance membranes that could help the industry to become greener. He believes that education and science outreach could help tackle global challenges concerning sustainability and resource management. He feels particularly passionate about food security and food waste management. To learn more about him, click here.

Core Labs

The Core Labs &​ Major Facilities support the KAUST vision by exhibiting an enduring model for advanced education and scientific research.

The Core Labs are composed of nine laboratories organized around one central mission: to provide state-of-the-art facilities, training and services to KAUST faculty, students, researchers, industry and government partners. These laboratories are a prominent feature of the KAUST interdisciplinary research eco-system, with over 135 permanent staff scientists, engineers, specialists, technicians and administra​tion. The laboratories function as a shared-user facility and play a key role in encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration through ease of access and a consistent mode of operation.

Strategically located throughout the academic campus, the laboratories allow users to easily transition between labs in a matter of minutes, from a research vessel to a next-generation genetic sequencing facility or an electron microscope to a virtual reality environment.


These centrally organized, shared facilities provide users with direct access to specialized instruments and services together with the necessary staff expertise. Core Labs staff are available for full-service requests or to train researchers in becoming independent lab users, always ensuring users acquire the highest-quality outputs.

Craig Kershaw

Craig Kershaw is the President of the KAUST Photography Club Self-Directed Group.

Dawood Bin Ayoob Dowlet

Dawood Bin Ayoob Dowlet is the Tamimi Diner executive chef.

Federico Pacheco Oreamuno

Federico Pacheco is a research scientist in the Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center. He has been a member of the Photography SDG since 2012. In his free time he likes learning about all aspects of photography, but wildlife and underwater photography is what he enjoys the most.


Fred Davies

Fred Davies is a Regents Professor emeritus, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, faculty of Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences, and AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University. He is a Senior Borlaug Fellow in Horticulture at the TAMU Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture. In 2013-14, he was a Senior Science Advisor (Jefferson Science Fellow) at USAID, Bureau of Food Security / Office of Agricultural Research & Policy, Washington, D.C. He continues to advise USAID on food security, agriculture and horticulture - most recently serving as the team lead, evaluating USAID plant seed programs in West Africa. He has over 35 years’ experience in research, evaluation, teaching, industry outreach and consultancies in horticulture, agriculture, plant propagation and seed programs in more than 25 countries.

He received a B.A. and M.S. from Rutgers University, and a PhD in Horticultural Sciences, Plant Physiology and Tropical Agriculture from the University of Florida. He has been a Visiting Scientist at the USDA Horticultural Crops Laboratory (Oregon), CINVESTAV Plant Biology Institute (Mexico) and International Potato Center (Peru). He has also been a Visiting Professor at Oregon State University, Monterrey Tech. Univ. (Mexico), National Agrarian University of Peru, and Bogor Agricultural University [IPB (Indonesia)]. As an expert in international horticulture and agriculture, he has been a Guggenheim Fellow and Senior Fulbright Fellow to Peru, Mexico, and Indonesia. He is past-president of American Society for Horticultural Sciences (ASHS) and International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS). He is a Fellow of the ASHS and IPPS. His research has been supported by NASA, National Science Foundation, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, other agencies, and industry. His co-authored book on Plant Propagation is the standard text of the field, and is used worldwide by academia and industry.  

Gilles Lubineau

Gilles Lubineau is professor of mechanical engineering at KAUST. He assumed his duties in July 2009 and has set up the Composite and Heterogeneous Materials Analysis and Simulation Laboratory (COHMAS), an integrated laboratory for controlled composite science from the process to the characterization, modeling, simulation and the validation.

Gordon Byron

Gordon was born on the west coast of Canada in the small town of Nanaimo in British Columbia. There he spent the majority of his childhood exploring the beaches and rocky coast where he fell in love with the ocean’s creatures.  He decided to pursue a computer science degree before moving across Canada to complete his Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology and Statistics. Gordon was fortunate to enroll in a co-op program and was placed with Dr. James D. Reimer at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa Japan, where he worked on biodiversity of zoanthids. He was able to present this research at a conference in Taiwan where he met Dr. Berumen as well as fellow KAUST professors and students.

Gordon's research interests include biodiversity of invertebrate reef life including (but not limited to) zoanthids, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. Gordon also enjoys many sports including golf, football, basketball, soccer, badminton, and tennis, as well as lifting weights.​ He is also taking an active part in the KAUST Student Green Group actions on campus.

Hani Itani

Hani Itani is professional registered architect graduated from the American University of Beirut (1988, BA Architect) and joined KAUST in January 2008 under the capacity of Technical advisor responsible for the academic & administration Buildings & Laboratories. Hani contributed to the design, construction and startup of the operation of the University.

Today as University architect Hani Itani isupports several projects by implementing the KAUST vision, where he believes in sustainability is a new dimension in Saudi Arabia and the whole world.

James Calvin

Professor James Calvin is Vice President for Academic Affairs at KAUST. He began his relationship with the University as the Director of one of the KAUST Global Research Partnership Research Centers, the Institute for Applied Mathematics and Computational Science (IAMCS) at Texas A&M University.

As Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor Calvin is responsible for the formulation of the University's educational strategies and standards and for the advancement of a strong role for our Centers and Core Labs in graduate education. His management responsibilities include Graduate Affairs, Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs, the University Library, International Programs and Enrichment Programs, and in this he represents the University’s​ commitment to excellence in graduate education.

Professor Calvin is an alumnus of the University of Oregon (B.S., Mathematics and Computer Science) and Colorado State University (M.S. and Ph.D., Statistics). His research emphasis has been on the development of general linear models for correlated data and applications in the environmental and life sciences. He was a member of the faculty at Texas A&M University for over 20 years, where he has served as a Professor Statistics, Head of the Statistics Department, Executive Associate Vice President for Research and Acting Vice President for Research before assuming the role of IAMCS Director.

Jasmeen Merzaban

Jasmeen Merzaban is an assistant professor in Bioscience in the BESE division at KAUST.

Professor Merzaban's research interests focus on understanding and optimizing the mechanism by which immune and stem cells exit the blood circulation to "home" to specific sites within the body. This process is mediated by sophisticated and coordinated steps controlled by multiple signaling and adhesion molecules, with key players being the selectins.

Using a multidisciplinary approach that combines biochemical, biophysical and imaging techniques with in vivo mouse models, she is investigating some of the glycosyltransferases involved in controlling the biosynthesis of selectin ligands and how this contributes to the interplay of events necessary to allow cells to home to the affected site(s). Such studies are vital to understanding how the body responds to inflammation, to stem cell-based tissue engineering and other adoptive cell therapies.

Visit her KAUST page to learn more about her.

John Bedbrook

John Bedbrook currently is the Executive Chairman of DiCE Molecules LLC.

After completing a PhD in Molecular Virology at Auckland University, John was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Medical School, a Maria Cabot Fellow at the Harvard Biolabs and an EMBO Fellow at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge, England.

He has published over a hundred scientific papers. He founded and/or managed several Biotech companies including: Advanced Genetic Sciences Inc., DNA Plant Technology Inc., Maxygen Agriculture Inc., and Verdia Inc. and after the acquisition of Verdia Inc. by DuPont company was Vice President of Agriculture and Nutrition Research then Vice President of DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology.

He recently co-founded and acts as Executive Chairman of DiCE Molecules LLC, a Pharmaceutical and Ag. Chem small molecule discovery company. He is on the board of several biotechnology companies.

Lewis Dartnell

Prof. Lewis Dartnell is a research scientist, presenter and author based in London. He graduated from Oxford University with a First Class degree in Biological Sciences and completed his PhD at University College London in 2007. He now hold the Professorship in Science Communication at the University of Westminster. His research is in the field of astrobiology and the search for microbial life on Mars. He has also held a STFC Science in Society Fellowship and is very active in delivering live events at schools and science festivals, working as a scientific consultant for the media, and has appeared in numerous TV documentaries and radio shows. He won several awards for his science writing and outreach work and regularly freelance for newspapers and magazine articles, and has published three books.

Linda Polik

Linda Polik is a community member who is passionate about photography.

Maria José Mosqueira

María Mosqueira is a student in the Bioscience Ph.D. program. Her interests focus on microbiology, science outreach, science illustration, arts and culture promotion, and cooking. 

She is keenly interested in the topic of food loss and waste, and she firmly believes in the importance of taking action on the matter, not only due to its environmental consequences but also due to the social implications it entails. 

Her current projects include the implementation of inspiring initiatives to educate the community on how to reduce their food waste and the creation of a science illustration portfolio.

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.

Mark Tester

Professor Mark Tester is a scientist with much energy who is passionate about research and discovery, with a commitment to lifelong learning. He is committed to education and assisting and supporting others in fulfilling their potential. He is focused on high quality science that contributes broadly to both increasing intellectual knowledge of plant function and to increasing the sustainability of the planet.

He has a high level of professional integrity and intellectual rigour, and the quality of his science is reflected in both the quality of his publications and the recognition of these by others. He leads a research program on salinity tolerance in plants at KAUST, as well as in floriculture in his private company, Bioconst.

Professor Tester operates in a broad, cross-disciplinary manner, his science spanning cell biology, whole plant physiology and genetics. He has the capacity to attract significant funding and to implement ideas, such as shown in his building of The Plant Accelerator, from inception to completion, co-ordinating a wide range of expertise from engineers and architects to plant scientists and financial managers.

He has strong financial and administrative management skills, overseeing large projects with significant budgets and many staff. His commercial acumen is clear from his establishment of private companies and successful interactions with multinational companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Pioneer-DuPont. He was, until recently, a Director of Australia’s largest wheat breeding company, Australian Grains Technologies.

Matthew Tietbohl

Matthew Tietbohl is a Master's Student in the Red Sea Research Center at KAUST. Matthew is also a member of the KAUST Student Green Group. Click here to view his profile on the KAUST Reef Ecology Lab website.

Mehmet Yeşilçay

Concerts given with the Sarband Ensemble, in addition to those with Concerto Köln and Jordi Savall’s Hésperion XXI, made an international name of composer and musician Mehmet C. Yeşilçay.  Aside from conducting the Pera Ensemble, which he founded in 2005, it was his concerts and arrangements of Eric Satie’s works, and his performances with the great Sufi Orchestra at the Munich Philharmonic and other venues, which brought him widespread recognition.  During the 2007 UNESCO commemorative year for Mevlana, Yeşilçay compiled the program “I Am Wind You Are Fire” in collaboration with the Bergische Symphoniker (soloist: Ahmet Özhan), the same event at which he premiered his acclaimed composition QUN.  He work closely with soprano Edita Gruberová, for whom he created new arrangements of Händel’s Arias.

He also arranged and produced the pastiche ARMIDA, Amor Oriental (DHM/Sony Music).  In 2012, he directed the project "Music For The One God", financed and supported by the European Union and the Turkish government.  Numerous concerts attest to Yeşilçay’s accomplished skill not only as a conductor and arranger, but as a project leader, forging new and successful paths in both fields.

Mehmet C. Yeşilçay studied music theory, Makam instruction and the lute (Oud) under C. Tanrıkorur, and religious music under Seyyid Nusret Yeşilçay.  Currently he is working on his project “Mahomet” (“Mohammad”, a musical rendering of an ode by Goethe), and “Istanbul”, a symphonic poem for orchestra, choir and Turkish instruments, in addition to new projects for his ensemble.

The Pera Ensemble is composed of Turkish and European specialists in historically informed performance.  Depending on the nature of a given production, renowned guest musicians often participate in the project, thereby enriching an ensemble which has continued to evolve since 2005.

Melanie Balkner-Zielke

Melanie came with her family in 2012 from Germany to join the KAUST Community. She came up with the idea of creating a KAUST Cookbook, representing the variety of different nationalities in our community, while also gathering memories of our time here together at KAUST. Whenever our journey takes us to another place, we can read the book, remember the great people we lived with by cooking their favorite dish.
Together with Philippa and the two talented photographers who joined this adventure, they began this project – ‘International Cooking with KAUST’. We can't wait to hold the final book in our hands!

Mustafa Hakan Alvan

Mustafa Hakan Alvan was born in 1970 in Sakarya, Turkey. He completed the School of Conservatory in the same city. Afterwards, he worked as an artist - teacher in the Ensemble of Istanbul University Conservatory for four years. During the same years, he worked in TRT Istanbul Radio as a ney performer. Since 1991, he has been working as a ney performer in the Istanbul Historical Turkish Music Ensemble, which is an Ensemble affiliated to Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. He performed in more than one hundred concerts in different countries all around the world; and composed more than two hundred pieces and hymns. He has also been giving ney lessons in Bogazici University Turkish Music Club and some culture centers for twenty years. He contributed to many tasavvuf music albums as a director and consultant. He also presented notifications in many conferences about tasavvuf music.

Ozan Pars

Born in 1983 in Turkey, Ozan Pars started his musical experience as a chorist and soloist. In 2001, he began studying singing in Turkish conservatoire in Izmir, then also graduated as drumer and percussionist in 2006. He played with the state  ensemble for traditional Turkish music in Izmir. He accompanied numerous ensembles with concerts and CD productions. Today he works with different ensembles as a singer, drumer and percusionist.

Özer Mehmet Ihsan

İhsan Özer studied music in Turkish Music State Conservatory in Istanbul. From 1985 to 2003, he conducted the Student Orchestra of Istanbul Technical University. Since 2003, he has performed with Istanbul State Turkish Music Ensemble and Istanbul State Historical Turkish Music Ensemble as the performer of Kanun-Santur. He acted as music director for cinema, theatre, and CD recording. He has composed many classical Turkish music songs and orchestrated musical compositions.

Pamela Lucciarini

Born in Torino, she graduated in piano and singing in Pesaro and in baroque singing in Vicenza. She studied with Robleto Merolla, Patrizia Vaccari and Gloria Banditelli thus deepening a various repertoire which allows her to engage successfully in different areas of music.
In addition to her musical versatility, Pamela Lucciarini has vocal characteristics that are well linked to the repertoire of the late eighteenth century: great agility and extension.

Peiying Hong

WEP 2021 Co-Chair. Peiying Hong is an Associate Professor in Environmental Science and Engineering Program in the BESE division at KAUST. Her research group is based in the Water Desalination and Reuse Center. Hong’s research group aims to tackle the water scarcity issues. Her research interests include addressing the safety aspect of treated wastewater. Specifically, her group utilizes various molecular and cultivation techniques to characterize and evaluate biotic contaminants (e.g. antibiotic resistance genes, mobile genetic elements, pathogens) that are present in the wastewaters. Her research interests also include development of anaerobic biotechnologies as a sustainable way to treat wastewater for reuse purposes. Visit her KAUST page to learn more about her.

Philippa Arkley

Pippa came to KAUST from the UK in October 2015. Together with her best friend and colleague Melanie, they are creating the ‘International Cooking with KAUST’ cookbook – an exciting project to unite our community through food and cooking, whilst also creating a great memory book to serve as a souvenir of our time in Saudi Arabia. When Pippa is not involved in this project she loves to travel, read and to make the most of the sunshine!

Ramona Marasco

Ramona Marasco comes from Italy. She loves science and photography, especially when she can combine these two passions. She is now working in the Extreme System Microbiology laboratory in KAUST and her research interests are in the microbial ecology of complex ecosystems in conventional and extreme terrestrial habitats. Since she started to travel around the world to collect samples, she realized her passion for photography. Now, every time she leaves she makes sure to bring two things with her: her camera and her sampling kit.

Ryan Lefers

Ryan Lefers is a PhD student in the Water Desalination and Reuse Center at KAUST. He is a professional environmental and agricultural engineer with broad experience in water projects - both agricultural and environmental.

To learn more about Ryan Lefers, visit his KAUST page or have a look at the June issue of the Beacon, pages 12 & 13.

Sabrina Vettori

Dr. Sabrina Vettori is the Chief Executive Officer of Edama Organic Solution, a KAUST start-up developing cutting-edge organic waste recycling solutions targeted to desert environments. Sabrina has a Bachelor's and Master's in Statistics, Economics and Finance from the University of Padova, Italy. She received her Ph.D. in Data Science from KAUST. Sabrina has five years of leadership experience in the realization of sustainability initiatives.

Salim Al-Babili

Salim Al-Babili is an associate professor in Plant Science in the Desert for Agriculture Center at KAUST. The aim of Dr. Al-Babili's research is to generate crops with improved agricultural performance and enhanced nutritional value. Professor Al-Babili has long-standing experience in engineering crops with enhanced provitamin A content and in elucidating carotenoid-related metabolic pathways. Using combined enzymology-based and genetic approaches, he aims at elucidating metabolic networks and identifying new signaling molecules related to abiotic stress and plant development. Recently he has been focusing on the metabolism of the stress hormone abscisic acid and on strigolactones, a novel class of plant hormones regulating plant architecture and mediating the interaction with symbiotic fungi and root parasitic plants.


Sarah Perl

Sarah Perl, born in 1977 in the north of Germany, studied Viola da Gamba
with Achim Weigel, Würzburg, Niklas Trüstedt, Berlin and Hille Perl,
Bremen. She was member in masterclasses with Jordi Savall, Wieland
Kujiken, Pere Ros and Paolo Pandolfo. Sarah Perl is working with Lautten
Compagney, Freiburger Barockorchester, Dresdner Kammerchor, Bachakademie
Stuttgart, Gächinger Cantorey, Maurice Steeger and many others. She is
member of the gambaconsort Sirius Viols.
Her main emphasis is the work with her own ensemble WUNDERKAMMER.
Label of Sarah Perls records is Coviello Classics. The artist lives in

Sergei Filchenko

Sergey Filchenko started playing violin when he was only four years old. He continued advanced learning in the best music schools of St Petersburg and afterwards he applied to College up the State Conservatory where he has also learned to play viola.

In 1991, Filchenko became a member of Musica Petropolitana. Together with this group, he took part in the majority of the prestigious European festivals. In 2000, he joined the Played Trio. Since 2003, he became the leader and soloist of the first Russian orchestra of historical instruments, performing music from the 17th-19th centuries.

Sergei Filchenko has recorded more than 25 CDs.

Vanessa Heinisch

Vanessa Heinisch started her professional career as a classical guitar player. While studying guitar at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt/Main, she discovered her love for the beauty and elegance of lute instruments. After graduating with honors, she moved to Cologne to study Lute and basso continuo playing with Konrad Junghänel. In 2009, she graduated with her concert exam.

Since then, she is a sought-after musician, performing solo as well as in ensembles and orchestras. She plays renaissance and baroque lutes, theorbo and baroque guitar. As a continuo player, she is a member of the La Folia Barockorchester, having performed and recorded with soloists like Hille Perl, Jan Vogler, Maurice Steger, Simone Kermes or Dorothee Oberlinger.

On a regular basis, Vanessa Heinisch lends her talents to productions of operas, oratories and passions like Alcina/ Händel (Teatro Real, Madrid, 2015) or Atys/Lully (Theater Kiel, 2014/15).

As a chamber music performer, she specializes in music from the Renaissance to High Baroque.

By performing works of contemporary composers and cross-over experiments (recently, Il Giratempo performed and recorded with jazz saxophone player Marcus Mehl), she expands her musical universe constantly.

Vanessa Heinisch has played concerts all over Europa, in Asia and in South Africa.

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.