KAUST University... Innovative methods to build bridges of scientific communication

Writer: Salma Arafa - Translator: Amira Gawdat
الاثنين 10 يونية 2024 | 07:31 مساءً
Credit: KAUST official website
Credit: KAUST official website

At a time when research related to environmental issues and climate change is witnessing remarkable development, researchers in these fields face challenges to communicate their message and transfer it outside those laboratories. From here, universities and scientific centers began to focus on the importance of communication.

In 2009, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) was established to join the list of the most prominent research centers in the world in many fields, most notably the fields related to environmental protection, clean energy, water, and other sectors that contribute directly to achieving economic development goals.

Arab lead

According to the Nature Index issued 2023, KAUST ranked first in the Arab world among leading institutions, and third among institutions located in West Asia.

Scientific communication and its methods developed over the years was one of the most important pillars that has been focused on by the university.

Credit: KAUST official websiteCredit: KAUST official website

Speaking to “Green in Arabic”, Caroline Unck, interim assistant director for brand and content in the strategic communications team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), believes that it is necessary for valuable scientific discoveries to reach an audience beyond the scientific community, including influencers, decision makers , and the general public and it must be done in a way that conveys the importance of these discoveries.

She points out the importance of reaching the audience the way they spend their time, and using a method that is easy for them and also appropriate to the context of the topic.

Between the university’s official website, social media platforms, and other publications that it launched, such as “KAUST Discovery” and “KAUST Insights” magazines, the ways to convey scientific research news are variable.

The secret is in the journalistic style

Unck points out that the method used in KAUST Discovery magazine, which shares the latest news on scientific research conducted by the university, is journalistic and uses multimedia, including photos, videos and designs, with the aim of reaching non-expert readers within the international scientific community.

Pictures, video clips, and designs are the master around which the content of the magazine’s website and its various issues revolves, which transfer the reader to the atmosphere of university laboratories, and simplify the details of what is happening in the environment in terms of soil, air, and bodies of water.

One of the topics, enhanced with photos and videos published by the magazine’s website, dealt with the important discovery made by university researchers, in cooperation with a number of international scientists, which is that the El Nino phenomenon that the Pacific Ocean is witnessing and exacerbated by climate change has led to the flourishing of areas of coral reefs and the arrival of greater amounts of nutrients to them, while it led to the destruction of other areas in other regions.

El Nino occurs when water with higher temperatures reaches the surface, transferring more heat into the atmosphere.


Cooperation between scientists in different fields was also one of the goals that the university worked on. Unck indicates that it has followed, over the years, how KAUST Discovery has contributed to achieving the required goals. Scientists specializing in materials science cooperated with workers in the field of biology, and the platform also contributed to inspiring surfing students to find research fields and pursue their academic studies at the university, adding that many of the new joiners to work at the university indicated that it was a source of inspiration for them.

Unck described King Abdullah University of Science and Technology as a unique place where academics coexist. So, naturally there is a lot of support for researching and finding ways to do things smarter and more sustainably.

Save coral reefs

The contributions of the university, which overlooks the coast of the Red Sea, to protecting the marine environment have also been transferred to reality. Last year, work began on the KAUST initiative to revive coral reefs, in cooperation with the city of NEOM, on Shusha Island, located on the coast of the city.

Another platform that contributes to enhancing scientific communication is “Kaust Insights” and, in addition to the published issues, it offers short articles enhanced with multimedia elements.

One of the topics included the success of one of the university’s research teams, led by Kyle Laursen, assistant professor in the department of biological sciences and engineering, in growing genetically modified algae that can remove nitrogen and phosphorus from treated wastewater, at a time when traditional processes to remove these elements require large amounts of energy, in cooperation with the environment scientist Bing Hong, head of the department of environmental science and engineering, and member of the water desalination and reuse center.

Realistic solutions

Unck referred to the use of “Kaust Discovery” and “Kaust Insights” as platforms for communicating university research that focuses on finding solutions to real-world challenges, and research that closely aligns with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s goals for scientific research, development, and innovation, including goals that focus on sustainable environment and leadership in the field of energy.

The focus on realistic, sustainable solutions also appeared in the university’s new strategy launched by His Royal Highness, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in 2023, which included several points, including enhancing opportunities to transform research into innovations with economic returns.

One of those innovations announced by the university, which combines the goals of protecting the environment and enhancing the economy, was finding a way to increase the efficiency of “perovskite” cells, which is a type of solar panel cell, and increase their lifespan, to levels that can be compared with silicon cells, which require a greater cost. This contributes to enhancing investments in the field of clean energy.