Yasmeen AlNajm with her advisor, Professor TorOve Leiknes
On November 10th, Yasmeen Najm successfully defended her thesis entitled "Photosynthetic Oxygenation and Nutrient Utilization by Chlorella Vulgaris in a Hybrid Membrance Bioreactor and Algal Membrane Photobioreactor System" under the supervision of Professor TorOve Leiknes
. She, with her team, developed a coupled membrane separation technology to treat wastewater to a superior quality while also cultivating microalgal biomass for biofuel and biofertilizer production. The goal of her research is to reduce the highest energy demand in membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment: mechanical aeration.
Yasmeen joined KAUST at its infancy in 2008 when she was sponsored to study Human Genetics at the University College London through the KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP). After completing her undergraduate studies, she then continued her KAUST journey by joining a Masters's program in environmental science and engineering with a focus on environmental microbiology. After this, she took an industry internship in Oman, which helped her gain a deeper understanding of wastewater treatment. The possibility of combining algal cultivation with wastewater treatment to reduce costs and provide clean water, and to be able to combine the elements of her master studies with microalgae intrigued her, thus became the foundation of her Ph.D. studies with Professor TorOve Leiknes in 2014.
"Like any Ph.D. student, research never goes as smoothly as planned, and there were many experimental failures and project delays. The point is to keep your support system close and not to let it get the best of you. There is no shame if you need help, seek it from your PI or lab mates or even friends and family. This degree is about endurance with a hint of luck," Yasmeen emphasized. Yasmeen added that her work would not have been completed without the WDRC's support, particularly when she was installing and building her setups. "I am very grateful for all the intellectual conversations and advice all the members of the center gave enriching me on a professional and personal level," was Yasmeen's message to her friends and colleagues at the WDRC.
Yasmeen currently works as a senior scientist in the Corporate Innovation team at Halliburton's Technology Center located in Dhahran, KSA. They deal mainly on long term projects in the oil and gas industry.