Doha, Qatar, September 25, 2023: Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a division of the Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation (QRDI) Council, held the 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition on 25th September 2023, at Qatar University, Research Complex.
The annual competition aimed to encourage undergraduate students in Qatar to strengthen the country’s research infrastructure through participation in research projects led by their academic supervisors.
Commenting on 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition, Dr. Hisham M. Sabir, Executive Director of QNRF Program Office, (QRDI) Council said, “Through the 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) Competition, we celebrate the boundless potential of our student researchers in Qatar. Their dedication to exploring diverse fields of knowledge, from Environment and Energy to Social Arts and Humanities, embodies the spirit of innovation. As we award these outstanding projects, we also invest in Qatar's research future, nurturing the catalysts of innovation that will drive our RDI ecosystem forward. Together, we forge a path toward excellence in scientific research, ensuring the enduring strength of Qatar's knowledge landscape.”
Students from several esteemed academic institutions in Qatar, including Qatar University, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, University of Doha for Science and Technology, Texas A&M University at Qatar, University of Calgary in Qatar, and Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, showcased their research projects. The topics spanned a wide spectrum, including Environment and Energy, Social Arts and Humanities, Biomedical and Health, and Information and Communication Technology. This year's UREP competition featured 29 poster presentations from six academic institutes and five oral presentations from Qatar University.
A distinguished panel of 16 judges, comprising industry and academic experts, evaluated the poster presentations, while the judging panel for oral presentations included leaders from HBKU, SIDRA, WCMQ, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Projects were assessed based on their significance, research outcomes, student learning experience, and presentation quality.
In the poster presentation category, Qatar University secured the first-place position with their project, 'Microbiota and Mycotoxins in Arabic Coffee and Their Biological Control by Using Bacterial Volatiles.' The second-place winners were also from Qatar University, with two projects: 'Investigation of Putative Transcription Factors That Can Improve Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Generation' and 'Exploring the Influence of Power Paradox on Driving Behavior and Traffic Safety.' Qatar University secured third place with 'Smart Multilayered Polymeric Coatings for Corrosion Protection of Steel.'
In the oral presentation category, 'Cyclist Safety on Local Roads: Quantitative & Qualitative Assessment' from Qatar University claimed first place. Second place was awarded to 'Investigation of the Prevalence of Fungi (Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Fusarium) and Mycotoxins in Qatari Date Palm Fruits,' while third place went to 'Gene Expression Profiling of Triple Negative Breast Cancer Stem Cells,' both from Qatar University.
The competition also recognized the winners of the Best Representative Image of an Outcome (BRIO), which celebrates visual communication of scientific concepts and research in Qatar through art. The contest received 24 entries and garnered more than 1500 votes from the public and Qatar's scientific and academic sector. The top three BRIO contest winners were Ms. Hend Salah Fayed from Hamad Bin Khalifa University for 'Lab-Grown Blood Vessels Photo,' Dr. Mohsin Alanasi from Qatar University for 'Largest Herd of Dugong Sighted off Qatar,' and Mr. Adnan Khan from Texas A&M University at Qatar for 'Methane Reformer Microstructure.'
Since its inception in 2006, UREP has recognized over 5000 undergraduate students from universities across Qatar for their contributions to 1276 projects during 29 UREP cycles. Remarkably, 1150 UREP projects have been completed in the past 17 years, underscoring the program's enduring impact.
Scientific research is one of the core transformation components of Qatar’s RDI ecosystem. The country is witnessing a steady increase in research projects and outcomes being developed in Qatar. Competitions such as the UREP, aspire to encourage and support promising young minds to realize their pivotal role as catalysts for furthering innovation and scientific research in Qatar, and ensure the robust longevity of Qatar’s RDI ecosystem.
These research-oriented programs further assist in fostering talent for the national research infrastructure and increasing collaboration between faculty and students to produce relevant research for innovative solutions development that address national challenges. To learn more about QRDI programs, visit the QRDI Council.