Saudi science uni in head hunt

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A worldwide search is underway for a founding president for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

The university, which is being built 80 km north of Jeddah on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast, aims to be a global leader in research into energy, environmental sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering.

The facility will have the financial backing of one of the world's largest university endowments from King Abdullah, and will be governed by an independent board of trustees that is expected to attract the scientific community's brightest minds.

"The animating principle of KAUST is to organise interdisciplinary teams around specific scientific and technological problems in order to innovate and achieve breakthroughs," said Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, His Excellency Mr. Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, whom King Abdullah selected as KAUST's chief institutional architect.

"This is what every leading academic and research expert tells us is the key to the future of innovation. And they're all watching KAUST with great hope and curiosity."

KAUST's academic model is structured around four research institutes, each of which will include research centers devoted to a particular set of issues or challenges that could benefit from concentrated scientific and technological study. The institutes include:

• The Resources, Energy and Environment Institute, with centres initially devoted to challenges in energy research; water and sustainable development.

• Biosciences and Engineering Institute, with centres focused on environmental bioscience, industrial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, health science and technology.

• Materials Science and Engineering Institute, with centres interested in problems relating to polymers, membranes and nanomaterials, catalytic chemistry and materials for high-stress environments.

• Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Institute, with centres focused on language software technologies and computational linguistics, IT innovation.

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