Congratulations to the inaugural NYU Abu Dhabi’s Post-Graduation Research Fellows, who were selected from a pool of strong applicants through a highly competitive process. Each fellow came to the program with a unique academic interest. Many went above and beyond by attending conferences, giving lectures, and collaborating with UAE-based organizations. Our fellows also gave back to their community by providing research support, guidance and mentorship to fellow undergraduates. As a result of COVID-19, the fellows faced unexpected challenges. Some had to halt their original plans, while others had to consider alternative ways of addressing their project. Despite this, they were able to achieve great heights as highlighted below:
Alexander Burlin studied refugee law and policy in Jordan. An early draft of his report on Refugee Protection in Jordan was used by local researchers and NGO practitioners. He published five articles and was invited to present his work as a guest lecturer in a number of conferences and events in the region. Alexander was accepted to pursue an MSc at Oxford or SOAS in Migration and Refugee Studies.
Lina Elmusa followed her interests in women’s studies and translation and completed the translation of Sahar Khalifieh’s The Sunflower. When she completes the editing, Lina is planning on publishing the novel.
Tami Gjorgjieva researched the Intersection between Population Genetics and ELSI (ethical, legal and social implications of genetics). Inspired by the events of COVID-19, she worked alongside her PI Youssef Idaghdour on a number of biomedical projects to study various aspects of the COVID-19 disease. Many of these projects are in collaboration with local partners such as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), SEHA and G42. Tami attained a Pre-doctoral Research Assistant at Harvard/Geisinger/National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
My future opportunity as a pre-doctoral RA for the SSGAC, which is an incredibly competitive position, would have been unattainable if it weren’t for this fellowship… this fellowship encourages ingenuity in research pursuit.
Steffen Holter, whose initial plan was impacted by the limited access to the Robotics lab, used his time to focus on more theoretical aspects of his project and submitted a journal article about the Feature Extraction and Data Visualization he started during his Capstone project. Stephen is planning to pursue a Master’s program in Computing at Imperial College London.
Hannah Melville-Rea research project "How Drought Shapes Political Engagement" led to interesting findings indicating that protest voting increased in areas affected by drought in the form of increased support for minor parties and incomplete ballots on election day. She won the ASQPS Student Paper Prize at the 2019 Australian Society for Quantitative Political Science Conference. She was also selected as a UAE Ambassador for Nature, and presented at a number of events and conferences, within and outside of NYUAD.
Raitis Pekuss researched the 3D printing of concrete and explored its application in the UAE construction sector. His work will culminate in printing 10 two-meter tall concrete pillars of increasing geometric complexity which will be displayed on campus as a tribute to NYUAD’s 10-year anniversary. Raitis is planning to pursue a Master’s in Civil Engineering at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Netherlands.
Nadine Soliman studied the effect of supermassive black holes on galaxy formation. Despite several challenges faced during the debugging process and in incorporating her code within the large-scale simulations code, Nadine finalized an optimal set of parameters and finished running five sets of simulations to be used as preliminary results for upcoming publications that match theoretical predictions. Nadine will begin Astrophysics PhD program at Caltech in the fall.
This fellowship enabled me to take higher responsibilities in research leadership and student mentorship. The independent work helped me grow as a self-driven scholar, which will prepare me to tackle academic and clinical research as a doctor.
Alvaro Yanez investigated the interaction between stress and sleep/wake cycles. His work enabled the laboratory to develop educational curricula for underclassmen volunteering in the lab, as well as senior capstone students. It also provided essential computational pipelines for data validation, quality assessment, and correction developed for the first time in the branch of the lab. Alvaro has been accepted to study medicine at the University of Manchester.
View projects of the inaugural Post-Graduation Research Fellowship cohort.
Faculty Supervisor: Dipesh Chaudhury
Since sleep deprivation was first discovered to alleviate depression in ~%50 of endogenous depressives, research has uncovered a tight association between depression and sleep. Notably, the stage of sleep that we call rapid eye movement (REM) has been implicated in both adaptive and maladaptive responses to stress; a duality that called for a comparative study of its role during and after a stressful event. This project compares the role of REM sleep during and after the onset of chronic social defeat stress, using a well-established mouse model of depression. Besides comparing its functionality, this project subsequently manipulates REM sleep in vivo and in real-time to assess if susceptibility to stress can be countered using nothing but the body’s own sleep.
Faculty Supervisors: Nathalie Peutz and Jonathan Shannon
This project looks at the proliferation of exploitative practices within the humanitarian-development industry in Jordan, with a particular focus on the Syrian refugee crisis. In the past six years, the Jordanian refugee regime has become subject to a new degree technocratic governance, as the international response to the Syrian crisis transformed from a short-term humanitarian mission focusing on emergency relief, to a long-term development enterprise centering macroeconomic interventions, empowerment programs, and refugee integration. The turn to development planning has been accompanied by an increase in exploitation, abuse and fraud in the humanitarian-development sector. To understand why this has occurred, and how Syrians and NGO workers deal with cases of "mismanagement," this project analyzes ethnographic data on experiences of humanitarian and development programming. By doing so, it seeks to shine light both on the localized challenges that Syrian refugees face in the context of protracted displacement in Jordan, and the structural connections between technocracy, humanitarianism and development on the one hand, and exploitation, abuse and refugee management on the other.
Faculty Supervisor: J. Andrew Harris
My project began as a spatial analysis of the past decade of Australian rainfall patterns and election records to understand how voters respond to drought. By narrowing in on a particularly dry 2019, I find significant political disengagement in areas impacted by drought and am investigating whether the allocation of relief funds mitigates this. Upcoming field work in Australia will examine the ways in which political leaders provide ways forward from drought and how citizens perceive their options. Overall, my research aims to test whether climate events perpetuate short-term crisis management or act as a wake-up-call for governments to invest in disaster resilience.
Faculty Supervisor: Corinne Stokes
My translation of Sahar Khalifeh’s The Sunflower, which has never before been translated into English, will include a scholarly introduction that explores issues of translation and translation theory as they are related to the shift from Arabic into English. The introduction will also shed light on the role gender plays in political and cultural resistance movements, and the gender politics of cultural and literary production in the region. Through translating Abbad Al Shams, which addresses the double oppression that Palestinian women live in and compares their situation with other women’s situations under conflict, I am expanding the conversation about women’s roles, labor, and resistance particularly in conflict and literature.
Faculty Supervisor: Andrea Valerio Macciò
As an NYUAD Post-graduation Research Fellow, I am currently part of the NYUAD Galaxy formation group led by Professor Andrea Macciò. My research focuses on studying supermassive black hole accretion and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) feedback models to understand their effect on large galactic scales. I study these systems through developing the GASOLINE N-body code and running the NIHAO galaxy formation simulations to compare different models and constrain the models’ parameter space utilizing observational data sets.
The aims of the project are to probe the interaction between black holes and their host galaxies through investigating black hole-host galaxy scaling relations, and to gain insight regarding the underlying physical processes that give rise to the evolution of galaxies and their black holes. Thus, this will help improve the understanding of the role black holes play in shaping our Universe, and in characterizing the relevant parameters that determine their effect on the galaxies formed.
Faculty Supervisor: Borja Garcia de Soto
The purpose of my study is to quantify the improvement in productivity, defined as cost and time over the accomplished quantity of work, for construction projects that implement additive manufacturing, also referred to as 3D printing. In order to achieve the goal, this research aims to collaborate with industry partners and compare productivities of projects accomplished with and without the use of additive manufacturing techniques. Such a study bears significance for the global market as 3D printing of concrete could optimize parts of the construction industry, provide affordable housing for developing communities, and is also pertinent to the region as Dubai has launched the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy aiming to print 25% of all new buildings by 2030.
Faculty Supervisor: Anthony Tzes
This research project aims to improve area coverage control using a swarm of collaborative drones. Each drone will be equipped with a spherical camera that will provide information about its neighboring drones. Rather than relying on a wireless exchange of the geolocation coordinates between each drone, computer vision algorithms will be employed to provide relative localization between the swarm’s members. Based on this information, each drone will compute its 3D-Voronoi responsibility cell and adjust its position so as to cover as much area as possible. The research has ample opportunity for practical application in fields ranging from
search and rescue to security and defense.
Faculty Supervisors: Youssef Idaghdour and John Coughlin
I am pursuing a multidisciplinary research fellowship bridging the fields of Human Genetics and Law. I am part of the UAE Healthy Future Study research team, where I am analyzing genetic and clinical data from Emirati volunteers to study the genetic component of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Abu Dhabi. The legal research involves studying trends of secular genetic legislation worldwide and their translatability into Islamic bioethical and legal doctrine, in order to produce a research-based legislative proposal for the UAE on regulating the future of genomic medicine.