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The Capstone Project is one of the culminating experiences for all students at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Every student at NYUAD will conduct Capstone research in their fourth year, a demanding, year-long endeavor aiming at a significant piece of research or creative work; an historical narrative, musical composition, performance, invention, documented experiment, scholarly thesis, or other form appropriate to the student’s goals.
No matter what form the Capstone takes, each student will have a faculty mentor and participate in a Capstone seminar that serves as a collaborative learning forum to discuss the research process and present work in progress. At the end of the school year, the students will present their Capstone work at a university-wide celebration of their creative achievements.
I translated (my) interest into my Capstone project, and it has given me a chance to delve into a subject that I deeply care about: Understanding why some countries are more willing to find solutions to climate change than others.
Work on Your Research Interest
Unlike other courses in which faculty establish the structure and set assignments, the Capstone Project puts the student in charge. The fundamental challenge is to enter unmapped terrain and to extend oneself in making knowledge, reframing conventional approaches to an issue or creating something new.
We share some of the write-ups from our students' Capstone projects.
The Politics and Aesthetics of Iranian Coffeehouse Paintings
An art form drawing upon popular mythological, religious, and romantic themes, Iranian co eehouse paintings were politicized in the context of debates in Iran about traditional culture and national identity.
In the decades leading up to the Islamic Revolution (1977-79), nativism—a doctrine emphasizing local and historical customs in opposition to outside influences—became a central focus of debate about popular and national culture.
In its bid for national legitimacy, the state supported such cultural projects as the collection, exhibition, and protection of coffeehouse paintings as a form of “native” Iranian culture; at the same time, many intellectuals viewed “native” culture as a way to resolve what they perceived as symptoms of Western cultural imperialism known as Gharbzadegi (Westoxi cation). My Capstone explores the role of co eehouse paintings in this evolving conversation about an “authentic” Iranian identity, contested to this day by artists, intellectuals, and the state.
Korean Drama Viewership among Young Emirati Girls
For more than a decade, the fandom of Korean popular culture has exploded throughout the Arab World, especially in the United Arab Emirates. But apart from a few market analyses, there have hardly been critical studies on the Korean Wave (hallyu) phenomenon in this region.
I examine what attracts young Emirati girls to Korean pop culture, arguing that the transcultural fandom serves as a valuable means for negotiating and regenerating their identity. I conduct a qualitative analysis of Emirati fan practices based on interviews with members of a local Korean culture fan club.
My study finds that they are not passive consumers but active agents who struggle with complex identities amidst global cultural influences. The girls venture into this new domain of foreign media, which they creatively utilize to fill in the void in the local mediascape.
Water Treatment Facility in the Northern Emirates
The Northern Emirates faces unique and challenging water resourcing; with some of the most limited availability in ground water, and a water usage of twice the world average at 550 liters per person per day, the UAE must have highly efficient waste water recycling systems. This project outlines a detailed design of a recycled wastewater treatment facility located in the Northern Emirates of the UAE including the water treatment process, structural housing, and road access ways with parking facilities.
This is documented with design drawings and analysis alongside the project management methods undertaken to complete the project. The design chosen is a multi-stage water treatment process modelled on a traditional sewage treatment plant; wastewater undergoes primary and secondary treatment with the option of adding additional tertiary treatment.
Two designs were considered for treatment; the first met the minimum requirements of World Hearth Organization (WHO) and the second met the UAE requirements which surpass those of the WHO. Of interest is the suggestion that treated effluent will be of a high enough quality to be used in crop irrigation. Designs were carried out in accordance with primarily the Abu Dhabi Municipal Standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE), and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) codes.
Lizard Tail Autotomy: Biomimetic Structure
Autotomy is the process by which some lizards detach part of their tails in order to distract predators when they feel threatened. These lizards often have aspects that draw a predator’s attention, such as being brightly colored, having sharply contrasting colors or patterns, or a moving tail when the lizard is otherwise still.
Lizards that can detach their tail have “fracture planes” spaced regularly down the length of the tail that are either between vertebrae or in the middle of each vertebra, depending on the species.
It is at these specific planes on the tail that autotomy can occur. Skin, muscles, blood supply, nerves, and bone separate when the tail is dropped. After it falls to the ground, the tail starts to flex on the ground, giving the lizard a chance to escape while the predator is focused on the moving tail.
This design project is dedicated to producing a biomimetic structure replicating the process of lizard tail autotomy. To achieve this biomimetic task, the microstructure of goosebumps-like sheets was firstly designed and fabricated. Next, a triangular structure like that patterning the fracture planes in lizard tails was fabricated and assembled. Finally, the actuation of both the planar and three-dimensional triangular structure was realized and used to numerically characterize the prototypes for further research.
Screen for new anthelmintics derived from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis using Caenorhabditis elegans and Pristionchus paci cus as model organisms
Parasitic worm infections affect 24% of human population, livestock, and crops. During my Capstone project, I used the free living, non-pathogenic worm C. elegans as a model system to screen for new bio-active compounds that target worms and help overcome resistance seen against current drugs.
I participated in screening a library of 300 Bacillus thuringiensis, a spore-forming bacterium that synthesizes crystal Cry and Cyt proteins. Bt virulence factors are natural toxins safe to humans; they have been used as bio-insecticides and some are known to be toxic against nematodes, constituting a promising alternative to chemical treatments. The Bt library was isolated from soil ecosystems in Lebanon and the UAE.
We found 52 strains that hinder the survival of worms and we are characterizing the toxic factors by using plasmid and protein pro les and deep genome sequencing. The identi ed molecules will potentially have a considerable impact on agriculture and human health.
Sentiment Analysis in Tweets
The topic of this Capstone project is the detection of sentiment and stance in tweets.
This task encompasses sentiment analysis, a sub eld in Natural Language Processing. Working with individual tweets brings to light the possibility of achieving accuracy of sentiment and stance derivation when working with shorts texts that do not have features found in much longer texts like conversational structure and comprehensive sentences.
The goal for this project is to build and test systems that automatically determine from a tweet the sentiment of the author, whether it be towards a target or not. The project will work with data supplied by SemEval for multiple shared workshop tasks with similar objectives.
The Effects of a Value Added Tax on Economic Activity in The UAE
Value added tax is an indirect method of taxing consumption. The United Arab Emirates is a country with no previous consumption taxation methods on people living in the country.
However, by 2018 the UAE will begin implementing a 5 percent value added tax on goods, with the exception of some staple food and essential services.
By January 1st 2019, all GCC countries are expected to have implemented the fiscal policy which is believed to increase and diversify revenues. The paper aims to study the effects of such a policy, which will be estimated through a macroeconomic model with micro parameters.
The model includes the goods and labor market that are created by maximizing the consumption utility function for households and production function for firms, subject to their budget constraints.
By adding the value added tax to the model, the changes can then be studied in order to infer the effects of the policy and study the revenues that will be generated for the government.
Blessing or Burden? Hosting the FIFA World Cup
This paper explores the economic impact of housing the FIFA World Cup, by running a cross-country growth regression with dummy variable analysis to isolate the hosting effect.
A second difference-in-difference approach compares the host nations to nations that submitted a bid and were 1st runner-ups in the host selection process.
Focusing on the developing countries, the aim is to provide insight into their possible growth trajectory had they not hosted the World Cup, thereby challenging prevailing ex-ante hypothesis which claim that hosting a world mega-event bolsters developing countries’ economic growth.
The thesis extends current research by providing an ex-post aggregate analysis of the hosting effect, covering all the games between 1970 and 2010. Results from the cross-country regression show that hosting has a significant negative effect on the growth of developing host nations.
The difference-in-difference result shows that host nations’ growth is incrementally better off that 1st runner-up bidders. The combined results suggest that on average, hosting has negative effect on growth for developing countries, however, should a country enter into the bidding process, they are better off winning the bid than not.
This outcome gives empirical grounding to the critical opinions of economists such as Zimbalis, Baade, and Matheson, who have expressed that hosting world mega-events is a burden that may be deterimental to the already struggling economies of developing countries.
Capstones in 10 Seconds
Class of 2017 summarize their creative and intellectual discoveries on camera. Each student explains his or her Capstone project in just 10 seconds while standing in front of a green screen constructed from an image, video, or keyword related to their project.
Conducting my Capstone research in Greece was one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and I am thankful beyond words to have the opportunity to return to Greece with the Fulbright program next year.
"Conducting my Capstone research in Greece was one of the most transformative experiences of my life..."
From political participation to engineering solutions for clean water.
Can computers be programmed to understand expressive information such as recipes?