x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dh58.8m grants for university research

Projects funded by NYU Abu Dhabi include studies in climate change and black holes

ABU DHABI // Climate change, cyber security and black holes are among the subjects to be studied with Dh58.8 million in research grants announced by New York University Abu Dhabi.

The money, set aside for four selected projects over a five-year period, marks the second round of funding to come from NYU Abu Dhabi's (NYUAD's) research centre.

The grants will help to establish centres for climate forecasting; computer security and privacy; a data testbed for modern communication networks; and what is known as computational cosmology and astrophysics, or using specific numerical simulations to study how stars explode. That research could help determine how photons - units of light's energy - and particles in the universe are created.

Last year, NYUAD said it would grant Dh73m for studies in Arabic literature, for the neuroscience of language and for a new centre for technology and rural economic development.

Dr Fabio Piano, the university's provost, said he expects more grants to be announced next year. Funding for new research is drawn from NYUAD's general operating budget. The university is funded by the Abu Dhabi Government.

The grant winners were selected after a process of internal and external peer review, officials said.

Although some of the faculty staff are based in New York, "all projects are based in Abu Dhabi", Dr Piano said.

NYUAD, which admitted its first class of about 150 undergraduates last year, is intended to be an American-style research university to attract top students from around the world. The grants are expected to help establish the university, and Abu Dhabi, as a world-class research hub, officials said.

"These research projects have been selected based on their promise to contribute significantly to scientific understanding, and for the role they will play in advancing Abu Dhabi as a capital of ideas, research and education in the 21st-century," Al Bloom, the university's vice chancellor, said.

The projects at NYUAD are globally relevant, rather than focused on the UAE, while building the country's reputation as a global centre for cutting-edge research, NYUAD officials said.

The Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies in Security and Privacy will examine the impact of laws, internet policies and culture on cyber security, said Nasir Memon, the professor of computer science and engineering at NYU's Polytechnic Institute who will head the project.

"Coming to the region and to Abu Dhabi gives us a much richer understanding about the perceptions about privacy, and comparing that with information about [cyber] attacks that are emerging," Mr Memon said in a phone interview from New York.

He added that he hopes to have the first research projects off the ground by the end of the year.

The Data Centre and Cloud Computing Laboratory will also partner Abu Dhabi-based businesses and government institutions in experiments with data management technology and cloud computing.

Experts hope they can use theoretical algorithms to develop new methods of forecasting climate change. Additionally, at the Centre for Computational Physics, scientists will conduct large-scale numerical simulations at a newly built computer cluster, hoping to eventually understand the universe's black holes.

 

econroy@thenational.ae