QNRF has announced the winners the 17th cycle of its Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). Out of 126 research proposals submitted by student teams from seven universities across Qatar, 37 were awarded grants.
This latest UREP cycle will engage a total of 147 undergraduate students and 74 faculty members. Among the 37 awarded proposals, 26 went to Qatar University, three to Texas A&M University at Qatar, and two each to Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar and the University of Calgary in Qatar. The two remaining grants were awarded to Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar and Ahmed Bin Mohammed Military College.
“As an entity tasked with spearheading the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS), QNRF proudly plays a significant role in helping students acquire the skills necessary to conduct research at the post-graduate and doctoral level,” said Dr Abdul Sattar Al-Taie, Executive Director of QNRF.
“With each UREP cycle, we bear witness to the evolution of the type of research underway at the undergraduate level. This progress is significant since it directly impacts Qatar’s journey towards a knowledge-based economy. It continues to become evident that Qatar’s youth are increasingly beginning to understand the importance of how scientific research adds a new dimension to their educational experience, and we look forward to seeing this continued interest from youth across the country,” he added.
First launched in 2006, UREP is QNRF’s longest running programme, with two cycles per year. To date, around 2,450 students have taken part in UREP, with student teams from universities across Qatar conducting research under the mentorship of their professors, in areas of direct relevance to the QNRS.
UREP aims to promote 'learning by doing' and 'hands-on' mentorship activities as effective methods for undergraduate education. In addition to a research-based education, participating students gain experience in team-based research collaboration with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and other undergraduates or research staff in Qatar. The experience gained encourages these students to explore their fields of interest and pursue a research-based career.
Grants awarded under the 17th UREP cycle address the various pillars of the QNRS as follows:- 15 in energy and environment, 11 in health, eight in social sciences, arts and humanities, and three in computer science and information and communication technology.
At the end of each UREP cycle, projects are shortlisted for entry into the annual UREP competition. Most recently, of the 84 UREP projects submitted for final review in 2014, the top 25 were shortlisted for the 7th UREP competition held at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center in Qatar Foundation in March. The top five scoring projects from the shortlist were then chosen for presentation to a panel of judges. The remaining 20 projects were given the opportunity to have posters displayed during the public contest, for a chance to win one of the top three spots in the poster category.
A team from Qatar University was awarded first place in this year’s oral presentations for a project that explored the use of date pits as an inexpensive organic method to purify desalinated water. The study investigated how to remove toxic products, such as bromide, which results from the disinfection process.
A team from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar was awarded second place for their research into whether metformin, a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes, protects the vascular system against glucose toxicity. Teams from Weill Cornell, Texas A&M University at Qatar, and Qatar University were awarded third, fourth, and fifth place respectively in the oral presentations.
The winners of the poster category were all from Qatar University and presented on a range of topics, including the exploration of Qatar, improved cancer and cardiovascular disease research training for pharmacists, and the optimisation of chromatographic separation processes.
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