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 aid, protection, and forced migration in Jordan. He published two academic articles, a number of research reports, and presented his work as a guest lecturer at conferences and events in the region. He also partnered with local researchers and NGOs to assist in programs on refugee policy and law. Alexander is now a Research Program Manager at the Expert Group for Aid Studies in Stockholm, in addition to conducting research consultancies on human rights, aid, and migration policy on the side. Alexander was accepted to pursue an MSc at Oxford in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.
Through translating Sahar Khalifeh’s Sunflowers, Abbad Al Shams, which has never before been translated into English, Lina aims to expand the conversation about Arab women’s roles, labor, and resistance particularly in conflict and literature. Her work includes a scholarly introduction that explores issues of translation and translation theory. With inspiration of Abdelfattah Kilito’s Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language, she explores the movement between languages, and how the translation has stripped the original of some meaning, but also contributed new layers of understanding. She explores the idea of how a novel could move into a different sphere of knowledge, but the women spoken of in the novel are stripped of mobility. Lina continues to work with translation, along with social media and journalism.
Tami Gjorgjieva took a multidisciplinary approach to study the population genetics, and the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of genetics in the UAE. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked to commence and coordinate the NYUAD COVID-19 Screening Study, and collaborated with local partners — such as Cleveland Clinic, G42, and Seha — to build clinical projects to study various aspects of the COVID-19 disease in patients. As a fellow, she published two paper. Tami is now continuing her joint work in genetics and ELSI as a pre-doctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, USA.
By encouraging ingenuity in research pursuit, this Fellowship provided me the opportunity and mentorship to pave my own research path at the intersection of genetics and ELSI. I'm excited to continue doing similar work as a pre-doctoral fellow at the NBER, as part of a multidisciplinary team of behavioral economists, geneticists, ethicists, and behavioral scientists.
Steffen focused his research on building a relative visual localization system to improve collaboration within drone swarms. The developed drone detection system was published as part of a book chapter for InTechOpen’s Service Robotics and will form the basis of a larger article concerning collaborative area coverage. During his fellowship Steffen also wrote a journal article on the topic of Feature Extraction and Data Visualization which he started during his Capstone project. Steffen was accepted to pursue an MSc in Computing (Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning) at Imperial College London.
Hannah Melville-Rea's research project "Parched and Impatient: How Drought Shapes Political Engagement" found that voters exposed to drought increasingly prioritized policies aimed at economic stability and supported minor-parties. Her paper won the Best Student Paper Prize at the 2019 Australian Society for Quantitative Political Science Conference. She was also selected as a UAE Ambassador for Nature, Social Connectedness Fellow 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 studied models of supermassive black hole accretion and their effect on large galactic scales. During the course of her fellowship, she successfully implemented two sub-grid models and appended them to the current NIHAO Simulation Code. In addition, she completed running 20 simulations of galaxy formation for a set of five galaxies. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics at Caltech.
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 effects of social stress on the regulation of sleep. His project found that sleep pressure did not build up in stress-exposed mice as it did in stress-naive mice — regardless of whether mice were resilient or susceptible to the social stressor. His findings were selected for presentation at the 12th FENS Forum of Neuroscience, the largest international neuroscience meeting in Europe. Alvaro was accepted to study medicine at The University of Manchester.
View projects of the inaugural Post-Graduation Research Fellowship cohort.
Faculty Supervisor: Dipesh Chaudhury
Stress and sleep are tightly related due to the substantial overlap in neurotransmitter signaling and regulatory pathways of mood-regulating areas affected by stress and sleep/wake centers. The chronicity of the stressor and the variability in coping with it are major determinants of the psychiatric outcomes and hence the effect on sleep. The regulation of sleep is mediated by the interaction of a homeostatic and a circadian process according to the two-process model. Chronic stress induces stress-related disorders which are highly correlated with deficient sleep homeostasis. However, little is known on how chronic stress affects sleep homeostasis and whether the difference in adaptability to stress influences it distinctively. Therefore, we assessed sleep homeostasis in C57BL6/J mice after exposure to 15-d of chronic social defeat stress. Both stress-resilient and stress-susceptible mice displayed deficient sleep homeostasis in baseline sleep due to poor temporal correlation between frontal SWA power and sleep debt. A 4-h sleep deprivation in the dark caused a deficient sleep recovery response in susceptible mice characterized by NREM sleep loss. Our findings provide evidence of deficient process S in stress-exposed mice, while impaired sleep recovery following a mild enforced wakefulness experience was detected in stress-susceptible mice only.
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
This 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 severe drought that was book-ended by two national elections — in 2016 and 2019 — I show how local exposure to climate disasters can create perverse political incentives. The project combines satellite rainfall data with a public opinion survey and election records, to measure the impact of a climate shock to both political belief and behavior. Overall, the research aims to test whether climate events act as a wake-up-call, or perpetuate short-term crisis management, for governments to invest in future 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.