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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and WHOI Finalize Research Collaboration

Partnership Will Foster Research Along Saudi Arabia Coast in Northern Central Red Sea

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October 22, 2007

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), a new world-class, graduate-level scientific research university now under development, finalized an agreement today with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to collaborate on marine research projects in the Red Sea.

KAUST, which is located along the shores of the Red Sea, is working with WHOI scientists to establish the KAUST Marine and Ocean Research Center, which will provide critical information about ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and water circulation along the Saudi Arabian coast in the northern central Red Sea. One of the first projects will be an assessment of the health of the extensive and vital coral reefs in the region and identification of the environmental factors affecting the system.

“This partnership will establish a firm foundation of excellence for KAUST that will help us recruit other scientists and promote our ultimate agenda of scientific discovery,” KAUST’s Interim President Nadhmi Al-Nasr said at today’s signing of the formal agreement between KAUST and WHOI (which announced their intent to collaborate earlier this year). “It will also enrich WHOI’s already prestigious portfolio of scholarship and its reputation as an institution with a reach that extends literally all over the globe.”

“The KAUST-WHOI partnership will bring together a large, interdisciplinary group of researchers, each with their own strengths and experiences,” said Dr. James R. Luyten, acting president and director of WHOI. “With this collaboration, we can bring together different tools, techniques, and minds to gain a broader understanding of the Red Sea and its ecosystems. We are proud and excited to be part of this project.”

The multi-year agreement will include three major lines of collaborative research, including:

• a three-year fisheries and aquaculture project that will produce an integrated bioeconomic model of the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, describing the dynamic relationships among fish stocks and the fisheries that harvest them;

• a coastal hydrography and circulation project that will provide the first comprehensive description of the physical oceanography in the Red Sea;

• studies of coral reef ecology that offer a baseline for long-term monitoring of the coastal environment.

In addition to WHOI, KAUST has also signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) to create similar partnerships with the Institut Français du Pétrole in France, the National University of Singapore, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and American University in Cairo.

“Collaboration is necessary not just for the institutional development of KAUST,” Al-Nasr added. “It is also critical to the advancement of science. As we have learned, it is the way science is practiced in the 21st century.”

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, the region and around the globe. As an independent, merit-based institution, KAUST will employ many of the best practices from leading research universities and enable top researchers from around the globe and across all cultures to work together to solve challenging scientific and technological issues. The KAUST global research and education network will support diverse talents, both on its campus and at other premier universities and research institutions, through collaborative research agreements, grants, and student scholarship programs. The core campus, located on more than 36 million square meters on the Red Sea at Thuwal, is set to open in September 2009.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education.  Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment.

Originally published: October 22, 2007