Earlier this month, NYU Abu Dhabi sophomore Andres Fernandez presented at the UAE-Swiss Research Day that focused on the topic of "Frontiers in Water, Energy, and Sustainability." The conference, held at Zayed University, provided a platform for the findings of research projects in the respective countries to be outlined and discussed and was attended by a number of notable attendees, including H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; H.E. Dr. Alain Berset, Swiss Minister of Education and Research; H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, special advisor to the president of the United Arab Emirates; and H.E. Mr. Pascal Couchepin, former president of Switzerland.
Fernandez presented his research paper, "Physical Measurements for Modeling the Flow of the Currents of the Arabian Gulf," the culmination of his ongoing research in collaboration with a PhD candidate from UAE University and Masoud Ghandehari, NYU-Poly associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Fernandez' research is focused on the limitations of current methods, which are only able to measure salinity levels at depth in a specific location or a larger diameter at the surface level. Fernandez is working to combine the two functions and extrapolate deep-sea measurements, employing satellite imaging, in order to better understand the effects that desalination plants have on the Gulf. Such developments may also contribute to an understanding of the effects of climate change on ocean currents.
Fernandez' research is particularly pertinent to the UAE and other Gulf nations, which are greatly dependent on desalinated water. Desalination on such a large scale has potentially adverse impacts on the environment in terms of elevated return saline levels and an imbalance of minerals in the water.
As the only undergraduate presenter, Fernandez said he felt "a bit of pressure," but remarked that it was a good learning experience and "will undoubtedly help for future conferences."
Mohammed al Hussaini, director of Environmental Health and Safety at NYUAD and conference attendee, was particularly pleased with Fernandez' presentation. "He gave an excellent, clear, and concise presentation and managed to convey the subject very well in the limited allotted time," al Hussaini said. "There were a number of very positive comments from delegates, including one who felt that this was the best presentation of the session."
Fernandez will continue research in the coming months as more data comes in and has been invited to present the paper at an upcoming conference in Cyprus.