Student Focus: Nawaf Alghamdi

May 22 2018

Nawaf Alghamdi is an M.S./Ph.D. student based in the Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC). Photo by Raheena Abdurehim.

​-By David Murphy, KAUST News

Nawaf Alghamdi describes himself as a chemical engineer who is passionate about science and discovery. Alghamdi, an M.S./Ph.D. chemical engineering student based in the Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) under the supervision of Professors Mani Sarathy and Jorge Gascon, also defines himself as an liberal arts enthusiast who spends a good chunk of his spare time challenging his beliefs and convictions by enriching his knowledge in philosophy, behavioral psychology and anthropology.

"I'm a huge people person who's passionate about learning, teaching, making an impact and listening to soul-soothing jazz. Outside of the lab, you'll find me either running, swimming, biking, strolling around KAUST, diving in the astonishingly beautiful Red Sea or at Discovery Square hanging out with friends from all over the world," Alghamdi said.

"When I'm not doing research on campus, you'll find me either discussing class materials with the students I'm TAing this semester or helping to run the RA program in my Resident Assistant Admin role, or meeting with colleagues to help a couple of student initiatives at KAUST see the light. I also make a point out of attending all music and art events at KAUST as well as the informative Sci-Café sessions and eye-opening lectures frequently held on campus," he added.

Research focus

The focus of Alghamdi's research is to utilize catalysis in upgrading low-value feedstocks to valuable products. His long-term research goal is to push the boundaries of science by utilizing his engineering skills to improve catalysis-based operations. Prior to KAUST, he earned his chemical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as part of the KAUST Gifted Student Program.

"I have only been at KAUST for a little over a year, but I've grown so much both personally and academically. Six months after enrolling at KAUST—specifically in the summer of last year—I went to Princeton University to learn more about combustion from some of the world's leaders in the field. All these opportunities have helped me grow in ways I could not have imagined. I'm thankful for having had exposure to these opportunities," Alghamdi emphasized.

Continued growth

During his time at the University, Alghamdi became one of the first KAUST graduate students to be awarded a Grants Program for Universities and Research Centers (GPURC) grant from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). He was also part of a student team that won first place at the 4th edition of the Middle Eastern Process Engineering Conference & Exhibition technical debates held in Bahrain last year.

Alghamdi wants to use his time at KAUST to continue growing on a personal and professional level. He aims to continue working on having a well-rounded, competitive portfolio that will give him access to top-level research institutions and opportunities worldwide.

"I will continue growing and working hard to give back to KAUST and the KAUST community. All of us here at KAUST are working on problems that are grand, complex and challenging in nature. I don't expect my graduate research to immediately change the world, but what I do expect to get out of my graduate studies is a skill set that will enable me to make significant changes in the scientific community in the future—and thus in people's lives," he concluded.