At the end of NYU Abu Dhabi's spring semester, senior Haoran Liang had a packed schedule. In addition to sitting exams, preparing for graduation, and packing his bags for summer, he also competed in the Second United Arab Emirates Undergraduate Student Research Competition, held on May 22 at Abu Dhabi University under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. More than 530 students from 21 universities in the UAE participated, presenting research projects in six categories: Arts and Social Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Information Technology, and Natural and Health Sciences. It was in this latter category that Liang took first place.

Mentored by NYUAD Associate Professor of Chemistry Panče Naumov, Liang won with his Capstone project "Smart Hybrid Polymer that Converts Humidity, Light, and Heat into Mechanical Work," which, as he explained, means his creation of a polymer that has "the ability to change its shape in response to different external stimuli."

Liang, who thought the competition was a good opportunity to introduce his work to more people in the region, was honored by the win. "Most of the winners came from local schools and I think my achievement in this competition could win reputation not only for myself, but also for NYUAD," he said.

Sharing the same sentiment, Naumov added, "This award is yet another testimony of the potential and the importance for incorporation of undergraduate students in the high-level materials science research performed at NYUAD."

When asked about Liang and the quality of his work, Naumov said, "Haoran is a first-rate, enthusiastic young chemist. The results of his work on the Capstone project are impressive, and they are now being prepared for publication in one of the very reputable chemistry journals. His intense curiosity about materials science and his fierce determination to make the project succeed allowed him to advance his skills and to bring new momentum to our research."