Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) has awarded first place to students from Texas A&M University at Qatar(TAMU-Q) at the conclusion of its fifth Annual Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition.
The winning project, which examined the effects of ultra-high pressures and temperatures on oil–based drilling mud, was one of five undergraduate projects competing at the QNRF event on March 27, held under the patronage of Mr Faisal Alsuwaidi, President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
Student representatives presented their research, which had been selected through an extensive review process from 88 UREP projects completed in 2012, to a panel of seven judges. They were ranked on the quality of their presentations and the relevance of their data for Qatar.
Speaking on their achievement at this year’s competition, members from the winning team emphasized the importance of the scientific research experience they gained through the Program. Radhwan Al Saad, said, “As undergraduate students, participation in UREP was a very enriching experience for us at an early stage in our careers. This program supports the overall environment for research that Qatar is promoting. The data compiled as part of research is a resource that the country can refer to in future years when they adopt different techniques for oil drilling.”
His fellow student participant, Mohammed Al-Jubouri, added,“Our research methodology and the interpretation of results were both very technical as we had to do an in-depth study of topics related to our research. The skills gained and the knowledge developedhaveexpanded our horizons.”
Students from College of the North Atlantic - Qatar won second place for their research on antimicrobial properties of traditional Arab medicinal plants, with students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar taking third place for their project to create a collaborative, illustrated publication based on the preservation of Qatari oral folktales.
Qatar University and TAMU-Qstudents were placed fourth and fifth for their research on the genetic diversity of endangered mangrove speciesand specific skills for Qatari secondary students to enhance engineering education success, respectively.
The annual competition is a spinoff of QNRF’s UREP, which provides students with ‘hands-on’ experience, under faculty mentorship, as part of the organisation’s ‘learning by doing’ approach towards undergraduate research education. Launched in 2006, UREP is QNRF’s longest running program, with two cycles per year. Since its inception more than 2,000 undergraduate students have taken part in UREP.
“Over the past six and a half years, UREP has received more than 1,250 research proposals, with around 650 of them receiving grants from QNRF valued at a total of around 20 million US dollars. More than 2,000 undergraduate students have participated in the Program during this time. As we celebrate this achievement in undergraduate research education, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that today also marks the launch of the 14th cycle of UREP. Aimed at developing student capabilities in science and research, UREP serves an important role within QNRF’s overall mission to foster a vibrant research culture in Qatar,” commented QNRF’s Executive Director, Dr Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, while addressing the audience at the competition.
Dr Khalid Al-Quradaghi, Director of Programs at QNRF, provided further information on the Program and its benefits, adding, “In line with the Qatar National Research Strategy, UREP seeks to support basic and applied undergraduate research and projects in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, agricultural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.Faculty members also stand to benefit from the Program, with the opportunity to gain student support on their research endeavours through awarded projects. Rising participation in UREP, among Qataris and non-Qataris alike, demonstrates a growing interest in undergraduate research and an increasingly competitive research environment among Qatar’s educational institutions. The latest cycle saw participation by Qatari studentsincrease significantly as compared to the 12th cycle”.
Registration for participation in the 14th cycle of UREP openedon 27 March, 2013. Interested faculty members and students can visit the QNRF website http://www.qnrf.org/or download the iOS-enabled QNRF mobile app for further details of the Program.