Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weill Cornell Qatar research team big winners at QF Research Forum 2012 awards

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) were honored to win one of the five major research awards at Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Forum.  

The team of scientists from WCMC-Q collaborated on the research project into the erosion of Qatar’s barchan sand dunes with Cornell University in Ithaca, US. As winners of the Best Environment Research Program of the Year award, they received a grant of $100,000 to continue research efforts for their project titled “Halting the Erosion of Qatar’s Barchan Dunes: A Study on the Synergy between Ripple Motion, Moisture Retention and Microbial Growth within Barchans and How it Can be Exploited to Stop the Erosion of an Active Dune”.

Dr. Renee Richer, Assistant Professor of Biology at WCMC-Q and a Principal Investigator said, “This was so unexpected and a tremendous achievement for our research team. It is fantastic to achieve a really big win for ecology. In the past the focus has tended to be on pollution control and when we focus on the environment it is usually on the energy sector and pollution, whereas our focus has been on basic ecology so this is really big win for basic ecology.”

WCMC-Q’s Research Specialist, Sara Abdul Majid presented the research and was also surprised by the award but admitted that a lot of hard work and preparation went into the project. She said, “I was competing with around 12 other brilliant presenters and their research in various fields including oil, gas and energy. I was surprised and partly floundered by the number of questions I received from the audience and the judges, but I felt, overall, that the presentation went well.  I was very honored to receive the large trophy and a certificate from Dr. Fathy Saoud, President of Qatar Foundation, along with an award of $US100,000 for the continuation of our research. The new funds will facilitate our analysis of microbial synergy with dune geophysics. It will also let us explore the wider dune ecology, including habitat for reptiles and their interactions with dune microbiota.”

The forum hosted more than 1,500 participants and was attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, Dr. Mohammad bin Saleh Al- Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry and Dr. Faleh Mohammed Hussein Ali, Assistant Secretary General for Policy of the Supreme Council of Health.
A scientific panel consisting of Nobel Laureates and international experts from relevant disciplines judged the research program abstracts presented at the forum.

Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) as part of a National Priorities Research Program project funded the research. It is a three-year grant with a total budget of $US1,027,721. The project is titled: Understanding the Link Between Moisture Dynamics and Microbial Activity in Mobile Dunes.

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