RESEARCH FOR A NEW AGE
AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF SHARJAH IS PLANNING TO SHAPE THE REGION’S FUTURE THROUGH AN AMBITIOUS RESEARCH AGENDA
LAST YEAR MARKED THE 20TH anniversary of American University of Sharjah (AUS), one of the region’s most prestigious institutions. As its anniversary celebrations subside, the university has set itself a grand new agenda; to become the region’s leading research university, in just five years.
The new AUS research agenda was made public in May of this year by the university’s founder and president,
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah. Four new research institutes, supported by two research centres will drive the new agenda. These institutes and centres include Biosciences and Bioengineering Research Institute (BBRI); Materials Science and Engineering Research Institute (MSERI); Gulf Environments Research Institute (GERI); Smart
Cities Research Institute (SCRI); High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC) and Geospatial Analysis
Center (GAC). A Genomics Research Laboratory has also been established.
In becoming an internationally renowned research university, AUS will be re-orientating its long-held reputation as one of the Middle
East’s most respected teaching universities. The university is known for its provision of American-style, liberal arts education. It is also regarded by the region’s employers as being a provider of some of the best graduate talent, across a number of disciplines, including the arts, sciences, engineering, architecture and business. Dr. Björn Kjerfve, Chancellor of AUS, is adamant that the university will not only maintain, but build its reputation for undergraduate excellence, alongside its development as a research leader.
“Since our founding in 1997, we have established an excellent liberal-arts focused university, with our alumni going on to achieve countless successes in government and business, both here and further afield,” he says. “Now is the time for AUS to embark on a new era, setting new goals that will challenge us, but also lead to a new era for the university, and allow AUS to continue to contribute to the region’s development, and the rise of the UAE on the global stage”.
With the UAE committed to a program of economic diversification and national-scale knowledge building, the AUS research agenda has been designed to align with the country’s wider research needs. The four new AUS research institutes will house investigations into areas of maximum significance to the UAE, examining critical issues in climate change, health sciences, materials sciences and urban planning. The university also intends to draw the interest and input of local and international business, working with industry to find sustainable solutions to commercial challenges.
The scale of the university’s research ambitions are also expected to draw a number of internationally regarded researchers and academics to AUS, helping to drive its research outcomes. Over the next five years, the university expects to increase its PhD offering
(the College of Engineering recently launched the university’s first doctoral program, a PhD in Engineering Systems Management), with approximately 700 PhD candidates estimated to take part in the new programs. Up to 140 new research-focused faculty will join the university to teach and lead research, with additional positions being created for post-doctoral researchers also likely.
The breadth of the AUS research agenda looks set to have a transformative impact not just on the university, but also on the wider community of which it is part.
“The hallmark of a world-class university is not only the impact that it has on its students, but the influence it has at a local, regional and global level,” says Dr. Kjerfve. “AUS has therefore committed to a research agenda that is closely mapped to the needs of the UAE, as well as individuals and communities across the world; generating innovations and solutions that will shape the way in which we all live for the better”.
Charting upwards Dr. Björn Kjerfve, Chancellor is looking to to build AUS’ pedigree in research