Friday, September 25, 2009

KAUST Symposium: Sustainability in a Changing Climate

We, the "KAUST-ians," were exhausted after the big inauguration event which kept us out until well after midnight, but the KAUST Inaugeration Symposium scheduled for the following day was too good to miss. The symposium was a huge deal just by itself. Twelve leading academics were invited and the discussions revolved around two broad topics: the role of science and technology in sustainablity and food and water in a changing climate. Of course the lighting and effects were immaculate and the food was good (and plenty of it) too. Nadmi Al-Nasr summed up my own thoughts well when he said in his closing remarks that it was "crazy" to host two events like the inaugeration and the symposium in two consecutive days. Though perhaps overshadowed by the festivities on the previous day, the symposium was both enlightening and enjoyable. I am glad we had the opprotunity to attend.

The big names which spoke and answered questions are:

His Excellency Ali I. Al-Naimi, Chairman of the KAUST Trustees Board and former Chief Executive of Saudi Aramco
Choon Fong Shih, KAUST President
David Keyes, Symposium Chair and a KAUST Dean
Frank Rhodes, KAUST Trustee and former Cornell University President
Samuel Bodman, former US Secretary of Energy
Lord Alec Broers, former Chairman of the House of Lords Science Committee, former President of Cambridge University
Sir Roy Anderson, Rector of the Imperial College of London
Stephen Sample, President of the University of Southern California
Chen Ning Yang, Nobel Lauriate
Elias Zerhouni, KAUST Trustee and former US NIH Director
Nina Federoff, Science and Technology Advisor to Hillary Clinton
Wolfgang Kinzelbach, Professor at ETH Zurich
Robert Grubbs, Nobel Lauriate, Professor at CalTech
Tony Haymet, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice Rector of United Nations University in Tokyo

Dinner was an impressive affair. We had lobster tail, one of my favorites! I had to take a picture of these two swan ice sculptures at the buffet line.

The symposium was great, but I was so tired that I dozed during one or two of the talks. There was plenty worth staying awake for though! After all of this week's craziness, I am glad that all of this pomp and circumstance is almost over. After today, the important delegates and guests will leave and we can get back to some kind of "normal" here at KAUST. I look forward to being a student again. Next week, all I have planned is going class, doing homework, and just hanging out with friends.


  1. Sounds like you have way too much cool stuff going Nathan. I just wanted to make a quick post and wish you a Happy Birthday! Hope all is well1

  2. Thanks! By the way... which David are you?

  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATHAN! Very impressive couple of days!!! I hope you caught up on your sleep finally. All things are well here. My shoulder is even improving. Hope you get to see Ty. We are enjoying his stories. Call us if you can; we've lost track of your plans.
    Love, Dad

  4. It all sounds great. What are you studying?

  5. Wilkerson. Apparently if I comment as my google account it only says my first name.

  6. I am studying Biological Engineering. There are 11 majors represented at KAUST right now: applied math, computer science, bioscience, chemical science, chemical and biological engineering, earth science, environmental engineering, materials science, electrical engineering, marine science, and mechanical engineering.