Would you like to be an IBK Fellow in 2021?
Hear from previous fellows about their experiences. The IBK Team at MIT will be on hand to share all the details of how to apply and answer your questions.
Join us on Zoom: https://mit.zoom.us/j/97230407695
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 9:00-10:30 PM KSA (2 PM Boston)
Prof Kamal Youcef-Toumi, IBK Director
Dr. Dana Al Sulaiman, IBK Fellow
Dr. Sarah AlHumoud, former IBK Fellow
DOROTHY HANNA: Good afternoon and good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us and welcome to the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship Journey Webinar. My name is Dorothy Hanna and I am the program administrator for the KACST-MIT Ibn Khaldun Fellowship for Saudi Arabian Women.
In this evening's agenda we will begin with an introduction of our sponsor KACST by Dr. Malak Althagafi. After that we will have a presentation about how to apply for the program. And finally, Dr. Dana and Dr. Sarah will speak about their experiences as IBK Fellows.
At this time I'd like to welcome Dr. Malak Althagafi. She is the KACST General Director of the General Directorate for National RDI Coordination and she is going to give us an overview of KACST and the IBK program. And I see a message that people are having trouble hearing. Can my fellow panelists at least hear me?
THERESA WERTH: I can hear you well.
DOROTHY HANNA: Great. So Dr. Malak, please go ahead and share with us about KACST.
MALAK ALTHAGAFI: Good evening everyone. [SPEAKING ARABIC] Thank you, Dorothy, for the introduction and giving us the floor to talk a little bit about KACST. I would try not to take a lot from your time because I'm sure people are more interested to know about the fellowship itself.
So KACST established in 1977. It is functioning since then as the National Science Foundation for Saudi Arabia. And in KACST, we believe that scientific research and technological developments are a key component to further economic growth and national development in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
And what we do, we do operate and manage the following activities. We support the National Research and scientific research and development innovation strategies. We prepare and plan the national plans for science, technology, and innovation. We work also with the National Industrial Development Logistics Program, NIDLP, and with other many entity.
We do serve three areas. In the research, we do provide funding for university research centers in the kingdom and we also do give technological support. KACST has its own research institute in wide spectrum of area, atomic energy to energy to space, astronomy at life size and environmental, et cetera.
And under each industry, too, there are multiple centers that specialize in specific area of the whole spectrum of the innovation ecosystem. What we also do, we give technical support to the kingdom. For example, we are given internet service with Saudi Research Innovation Network,
[SPEAKING ARABIC] Technical Services Electronic, et cetera.
And we also function in KACST in development. So we implement a development program in 15 vital sectors that contribute to economic growth and sustainability. And finally what we do, we also support innovation by supporting developing industrial innovation centers programs and enhancing the work of business incubators, accelerator industry 4.0 programs.
And KACST was one of the leader in the kingdom to have the Joint Center of Excellence award leading universities including MIT, Stanford, along with other. And in Boston area, also, we have Brigham and Women's for the central biomedicine.
IBK is one of the special program KACST sponsored because in KACST, we believe in science empowerment for everyone. And in Saudi Arabia specifically, we know that Saudi woman has they are a leader in the field of science because actually that was its assisting to us.
Over 60% of our university graduates are majoring in some sort of science or health major. So KACST took over the sponsorship of this program and we could get happy to do this and working with MIT to train the next generation of the Saudi woman scientist in a different ideal system. Thank you.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you very much, Dr. Malak and we're really grateful to have us here with you this evening. And grateful to have KACST as our sponsor. At this time we're going to present how you can apply and we have a slide show.
And we'll begin with Professor Kamal Youcef-Toumi and then the rest of the IBK team will also present some information about how to apply for the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship. So please go ahead Professor Kamal.
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: Thank you Dorothy. So in this brief presentation we will be covering a little bit about the program history. Also we cover some information about MIT, the benefits that are coming with the fellowship. The program also has some different activities. This will be presented as part of this discussion.
And then at the end, we will cover the life at MIT and in the Boston area. And then the most important part will be about how to apply to the Ibn Khaldun Program. Next. So this program was established by the MIT-KFUPM collaboration that started in 2008.
And that collaboration focused on the water research and energy. And I'm sure most of you will remember that at time KFUPM was all men of the university. There were no women.
And so MIT kind of made the requirement that for this collaboration to proceed in a let's say more successful way, that the Saudi women should be also part of that collaboration and that's how the Ibn Khaldun Program was generated.
And it wasn't till 2012 that we admitted the two Fellows at that time. And then Saudi Aramco and of course with the big help of Khaled AlFaleh at that time who was the CEO of the Aramco company that they moved the program from-- actually it was due to Aramco for about five years and the agreement that started in 2013.
And at that time, we went from two Fellows to about 10 or a maximum of 10, which was a big boost to the program and to our activities. Next. And so in 2018, Emir Mohammed visited MIT at that time. And then there was a move to host the program and move it from ARAMCO to KACST.
And at that time also, the 10 year program was signed to agreement between KACST and MIT. And so for that phase with KACST, the new Fellows that we received were in January 2019. And you can see in the picture our president Rafael Reif with the Prince Turki who was at that time the President of KACST.
I must mention that people who worked in the background to make all of this possible. Prince Turki who was president as I mentioned. Also Dr. Anas Al-Faris who was vice president at that time at KACST and is now the current president of KACST. And we thank all of them for helping with this program.
And I should not forget Dr. Khaled Sultan, who was president of KFUPM when the program was established. Next. Yes so the Ibn Khaldun program is only one of these [AUDIO OUT] collaboration between MIT and in the kingdom.
And so the slide shows a few other programs the Center for Complex Engineering System. This is also between MIT and KACST and I am the co-director of that center. The other ones are the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab or J-WAFS.
Another program on poverty and action. Another one is on the Clinic for Machine Learning and Health. These are all sponsored or under the umbrella of Abdul Latif Jameel. And of course, before that we had the Clean Water and Clean Energy Center between MIT and KFUPM. Next one.
So the MIT upper administration very, very supportive of this program and also all of the activities that we have. And we would like to share with you the statement by our associate provost Professor Philip Khoury.
PHILIP KHOURY: Everything I know from the reports of that set of collaborations has been excellent, really first rate. And we're so grateful to have these new kinds of collaborations at MIT and with our faculty.
Let me just say on behalf of the senior administration of MIT, we feel privileged to be part of this program. I really mean that most sincerely. This is a breakthrough program for MIT. I'd like to think for Saudi Arabia as well. I certainly hope so.
But we're privileged. We're honored to have you.
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: Yes. [AUDIO OUT] I would like to add to what Professor Khoury just mentioned, that I don't know of any other program in the world that is designed specifically for women in some country of this type and also of this magnitude.
Next one. So each one of the fellows that come to MIT, of course, they will be working in a lab with their professor, who he or she is the direct supervisor. But at the same time, there are many other labs and resources at MIT that would be available to the fellows.
This slide shows on the left-hand side the MIT.nano. This is a new building that was opened in October of 2018. And it hosts many activities, instrumentation, labs, and so on, all four in the nano area. And also the slides has a whole list of other laboratories that in different areas from the medical, biomedical, chemistry, data, fabrication with 3D printing, maker spaces, materials, clean rooms. So a whole variety of labs that are available. And the fellows would benefit from them.
Next slide. And so MIT, we are very productive in terms of the patents. We do at least one patent every other day. And also, most importantly, the companies that are launched using the licenses from MIT.
So there are maybe more than 100 additional companies that have been formed based on the research activities and the licenses of the technologies.
Next slide. And when you are at MIT, so there's a whole ecosystem around MIT. And this slide shows the different types of activities. For example, companies that [AUDIO OUT]. Saudi Aramco has a research and development center just a walking distance from MIT is in green.
In orange, IT and data. So there is Akamai, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft. So a lot of the big companies and famous ones are there. And also other companies that are the venture capital type of companies.
And then you can see that the bulk of the companies is also in the biotechnology and bio-related activities, research and development. And all of these are in blue.
This is very, very important to have the university, the campus, and then surrounded by all these important companies. You have the combination of the talent and all of these resources. And most importantly, the proximity that you can just walk to any one of these places. These all facilitate and help the discovery, the innovation, the entrepreneurship, and also bringing these resources, like capital, and other things that are needed to make these activities very fruitful.
So I'll stop now. And then give the floor to Theresa Worth, who is our program manager. Theresa?
THERESA WERTH: Thank you, Kamal. And welcome everybody. Thank you so much for being here today. As Dorothy mentioned, I'm Theresa Worth. I'm the program manager of Ibn Khaldun Fellowship.
Been working with the program since about 2013. So first year in a long time that I have not visited Saudi Arabia. And I'm missing you all and glad that you can be here today with me in Waltham, Massachusetts.
So please allow me to continue with our presentation. So very generally, what is the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship? It is a post-doc fellowship for Saudi Arabian women with research as the central goals of the program. So the opportunity here is to collaborate with a MIT professor and his or her research group, with access to the facilities, as Kamal mentioned, and also professional development opportunities to supplement your time here at MIT.
I think, just before we move on to the next slide, one thing I just want to add to Kamal's comment about the ecosystem. In addition to having quite a lot of companies and other industry nearby, there are also a lot of other universities. And the academic community in Boston generally is very thriving. So there's a lot of opportunities to explore your field and your professional development while you're here.
So if we can move to next slide, I'll continue to tell you a little bit more about that. So the goals of our program really are to enable Saudi PhDs to conduct research at MIT. And I say at MIT because we often get the question if people can work at other universities. This is an MIT program to work with MIT faculty.
So if you are looking at research groups that you might be interested in, do make sure they're at MIT. There are a lot of collaborative programs with other universities. And sometimes it's not as clear as you'd think.
So with this program, we're hoping to support this generation of Saudi women to expose them to my MIT's research, teaching, and business practices, to continue to improve the research environment in Saudi Arabia, to do our part to help the students and faculty at your various universities and institutions.
Blocking my slide a little bit here. We're also actively working to develop a cohort of former fellows and support the community of women who have gone through this program and their contributions to the Kingdom's knowledge society.
We really believe that especially with this new effort with Vision 2020 that the time is so fruitful for women to take their place in this Kingdom more so than in the past. And we're proud to support that.
And finally, we believe at MIT that collaboration really improves research and improves outcomes. And through this program, we hope to continue to build communication and collaboration between MIT and Saudi researchers to that end.
Next slide. So I work in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as do my colleagues Nadiyah, Kamal, and Dorothy. But this program is broad across MIT.
So if you were to apply to this program, you could work in Bio, in Aero-Astro, in the Media Lab, in Chemical Engineering. Any program at MIT where there's a professor doing active research is a viable field for the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship as well. We're always happy to add to this list. So this is not a finite list.
Next slide. So to date, just to give you a sense of the scope of our program, we've welcomed 38 fellows to campus. And we'll be inviting a few more next year, five fellows for 2021. From that output, we've been proud to see 108 publications in journals and conferences, seven patents issued, and three filed, which is a huge accomplishment. So we've been very happy to see that working at MIT has really furthered those professional goals of our fellows.
Next slide. So we really feel like there are several areas of professional development that the program supports women and further improving it because our fellows often come with very, very high level of experience. So what can we offer in order to further their careers?
So joint research with an MIT professor is the heart of the program. We often see that fellows are able to publish those results in collaboration with faculty in leading journals and conferences, access to our facilities, but also working and networking with a wide variety of leaders.
So although you might be working in an individual lab at MIT, the MIT environment and the academic environment in Boston is very collaborative. And so you have opportunities to network with quite a large number of people in your fields and in related fields. And you know we see this as a fruitful opportunity to continue to develop in a research career.
Next slide. MIT feels that a professional development in many areas is important to the growth of a researcher, either in academia, in industry, or in government labs. So the fellowship opportunity also allows fellows to take advantage of several of the professional development opportunities at MIT and locally in the Boston area.
So the first is just the academic environment in general. There are seminars happening all the time, both at MIT, at Harvard, at Northeastern, and BU, all these universities that when you're here it's very easy access to them. Boston is not a very big city. So it's very easy to go and meet with all these different people.
So you have a lot of opportunities for seminars, workshops, conferences that are hosted in the area. MIT also has a professional education program that covers both soft skills such as leadership and project management, these types of things, but also will do short courses in a variety of technical topics that even our faculty and postdocs engage with because of the content.
Many of our fellows have gone through the Sloan Executive Education programs. They offer certificates in a wide variety of topics, primarily associated to management and leadership for the research and technology leader. So as an Ibn Khaldun Fellow, you actually have access to those courses and access to MIT employee discount on those prices.
So furthermore, we have an opportunity here for fellows to sit in on MIT classes. This either could be because you want to develop a skill for yourself, it's a new area for yourself, or if you are either working in higher education currently or interested in working in higher education. It's an opportunity to see how an MIT professor presents that material and perhaps to get good ideas. So a number of reasons why that might be really useful for you in your career.
The next slide. You might actually be able to see this better than when I present in person because I know there's a lot going on here. One of the things that we really are proud of with this program is that our fellows, after having this experience, have had significant opportunities in their careers, either moving to full professor, if they're at a university, which I understand that any university is very difficult, but also moving into ministry positions, dean, vice dean, provost-level positions at their universities. We have fellows who've been appointed to international committees with the World Health Organization, et cetera.
So this slide is my opportunity to brag a little bit about our fellows. I really think that they've taken this opportunity and really applied it to a high level to their careers. And I think that speaks to the blended opportunity of both working on research and working on professional development in the MIT context.
So next slide. Not every fellow who comes to MIT is pursuing the academic route, although many of them do. So those of you who are either interested in faculty role in the future or currently working in a university, there are several opportunities that could help you in your teaching as well.
MIT has the Kaufman Teaching Certificate, which is actually developed for our postdocs and graduate students to help them develop teaching skills for when they enter academia, recognizing that doing research in a lab all day does not teach you how to be a teacher. It's a very intensive program that's offered free to any postdoc fellow. And many of our former fellows have taken that opportunity.
Some of our fellows have actually gotten involved in delivering coursework, co-teaching with their faculty advisors. Asma El-Sharif and Malak Al Nory notably took this opportunity to really get in detail with the content that their faculty were offering so that they could bring it back to their university.
And another thing that's an interesting opportunity at MIT that I don't think is available every university is that in the research that you're actually doing as your project, we have a very streamlined opportunity to be able to hire undergraduate students to help you with that work. So you can put together a set of targeted objectives and hire a student to work with you on that project.
So it's a nice opportunity to work on mentoring and teaching skills as well. And I'm sure Kamal would chime in just to say that MIT students are very, very-- oh, my mind just went blank. We have we have really great students, just to brag on them a little bit. And working with them is very fruitful. So this is opportunity as well.
Next slide. Some of you here may be considering this program for yourself. But you also might be in positions where you are leading teams where you might be recommending your staff to this program. So I would just like to talk a little bit about what we see as the opportunity for institutions should you support your staff in coming to this program.
I already highlighted the networking opportunities for collaboration. And it really serves as a nice way to build bridges between institutions at MIT, which can have a variety of benefits. Certainly as a research-focused program, we hope to contribute to the professional development and research capabilities of your teams.
And we think that there's a lack of information in certain sectors on the quality of Saudi women's scholarships. We in this program know that Saudi women are really taking the lead in engineering and working at a very high level. And we love it when people learn that through our program.
There's a possibility to publish with MIT faculty, new teaching skills, and advancement of hire. These are benefits to the individual fellows, but really benefits to the institutions as well. An institution is the team. And so getting these skills into your teams is a benefit to everyone.
Next slide. And then I just wanted to highlight too that we've had fellows visit us from 16 different institutions so far. It is not a requirement that you have a current position at an institution or company in order to come to MIT through the Ibn Khaldun Fellowship.
But I did want to highlight that a number of institutions have been excited and open to supporting their staff and leaving for this opportunity to come to MIT. So just to highlight that the institutions have been very supportive. We're very excited to expand this list and work with new universities as well.
And then finally, we were very happy when Vision 2030 was announced, and with the explicit goal of increasing women's participation in the workforce and the STEM research and development, specifically. And very happy to see some of the to already start seeing some of the output of that efforts with new opportunities, new initiatives. And we're very honored to be a small piece of that puzzle in bringing this opportunity to more Saudi women.
Next slide. And with that, I will close my portion. And I would like to invite our program assistant Nadiyah Shaheed to continue with our program activities and life at MIT.
NADIYAH SHAHEED: Thank you so much Theresa. As-salaam alaykum, everybody. Inshallah all of the attendees and their families remaining healthy during these uncertain times. Bismallah I'm just going to jump right in here.
Our fellows, current and former, engage the MIT community and the broader public and research-related seminars and webinars. It's a great way of following our fellows' research and career progression.
Moving on to the next slide. And strengthening the sense of community, events such as our Ibn Khaldun, which took place in 2018, are expected to resume once life normalized post-COVID and salah.
On to the next slide. Another such event was when MIT welcomes Vice Minister Al Ibrahim to a one-day workshop focused on the Kingdom's Vision 2030. 20 plus of our fellows attended, which we consider a great turnout, and generated a wealth of ideas and strategies for moving the Kingdom forward.
On to the next slide. Ensuring our fellows maintain a voice and presence post-program completion, we have the Ibn Khaldun Society. It's currently led by former Fellows Doctors Sufana AlMashhadi and Haleema Alamri.
Events generated from their efforts include professional training and development, encouraging research pursuits, [AUDIO OUT], webinars. And I call your attention to their collaborating to take the MIT Hacking Medicine to the Kingdom in late 2019. So very beneficial to include the fellows, even after they complete the program, and include their voice and their input as our fellowship program continues.
Moving on to the next slide. Encouraging unity building, we have programmatic activities such as orientations and presentations. We have Quranic readings, the most recent of which took place on Ramadan 2020. We have luncheons on an individual basis where we get status updates on our fellow. And they can express any concerns, as well as group luncheons just for breaking bread and increasing camaraderie.
This picture on the far right, the large picture, showcases an MIT multicultural event in which our current fellows presented international delicacies and teas to attendees. So it's a great way of highlighting the program to the MIT community and integrating the fellows and to the broader MIT community as well.
This smaller picture here is of a 2019 ski trip that the women attended. And I was grateful to be able to attend as well. Just a way of bonding outside of the lab in a relaxed atmosphere.
On to the next slide, please. OK, so for the fellows who have or will have children during their time with us, Cambridge, Mass., where MIT is located offers free public school education. And just as a side note, the second term mayor of Cambridge is a Palestinian Muslim woman [AUDIO OUT] Sumbul Siddiqui, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. So women are making strides all the way around.
Cambridge also offers a variety of private schools offerings as well as summer school and afterschool programs. Eid is also considered a school holiday. So that's been the case since 2011. So we'll go off of that. And there's also a child care center on MIT's campus, space permitting.
Let's see. So yeah, pretty much what I've mentioned here is just a snapshot of ways that we inform everyone, current fellows, former fellows, and the general public of the milestones and progression that our fellows make, and activities that we've built into the program so that we increase that sense of unity and bonding.
I'll turn the mic over to our program administrator, Dorothy Hanna. Dorothy?
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you very much, Nadiyah. And now, the criteria, if you've been wanting to apply, here's what you need to have.
First of all, you must be a woman who is a Saudi Arabian citizen. Probably a lot of you in the audience already fit this criteria. You must have completed your PhD.
We have two qualifications by that. Must be in a related field. And if you're still working on your PhD, you just need to be graduated by September of 2021 to be admitted into the program. But we can work with you if you are finalizing your PhD at this point.
And if you completed your PhD more than seven years ago, it's unusual for MIT to take postdocs in that situation. But if you are still interested, we can work with you on a case-by-case basis.
To succeed at MIT, you must have an excellent command of spoken and written English and have a demonstrated ability to conduct research. MIT is a very hands-on research-focused institution. And people who are experienced and interested in that will get the most benefit from their time at MIT.
You also must have at least two publications in a peer reviewed journal to submit with your application. Finally, you need to be working in a field where there is also an MIT faculty member doing their research currently in order for us to match you with a great mentor at MIT.
The application is online. You can go to our website, ibk.mit.edu/application. You will find that the application opened today. So you can start your application now.
In addition to filling out all the fields in the application, you will also need to upload your current CV, a letter of recommendation, and a copy of your most significant publication. This is the publication that you think best characterizes your research. And the application will stay open until the end of the day on December 1.
So you've heard what the criteria are. And you're probably thinking, OK, how do I really make my application stand out and make me one of the few who will be accepted.
First of all, we need to hear about your past research. What made you really unique? What did you contribute to science or engineering that was a new idea and moved learning forward?
Your letter of recommendation should come from someone who really understands your research, who supervised you, and can speak specifically to how you are as the researcher and what your research experience has been like. Additionally, we're going to ask for a plan for the research that you would like to do at MIT.
Now, you may think it depends on what professor I'm matched with. And to some extent, yes. But we would like to hear what in your ideal scenario you would pursue and what kinds of outcomes you're hoping for.
To help us make sure that we can find a really strong match for you with an MIT professor, we're going to ask you to do some research. Go ask the MIT website or look at articles by people you respect and find three MIT professors that you think could be a good match for your research.
Once all the applications are submitted by December 1, we will go through a review process, which includes a committee at KACST that reviews the applications and a committee at MIT. Once we've narrowed it down to a smaller pool of applicants, the top applicants will have video interviews. And finally, MIT will accept the most qualified candidates.
And to give you information about the timeline for this, in January, February of 2021, there will be video interviews. We will finish by the end of February. And by early March-- in an ideal world, by the end of February, but our times are uncertain-- we will share the admission decisions.
And everybody will get a notification. Whether you've been accepted or not accepted, you will hear back if you apply about what the decision was. And finally, we will need to have confirmation from accepted candidates by June of their mutual accepts.
So you may be thinking, if I get accepted, how will I get matched with an MIT professor. And you can see that the large cog here says you, the accepted applicant, you have a lot of agency in this process. We'll begin by sending you a letter of acceptance.
And then we will work with an MIT professor, one that you think would be a good fit for you to see if there is space in their lab and if there is a good research fit. And it is a mutual acceptance process between the professor and the applicant.
And sometimes, people speak with more than one professor, depending on how easy it is for them to find their research fit. But we have had a very high success rate of placing people in great labs. By the end of the process, hopefully in September 2021, you'll be placed in a lab and able to begin your research at MIT.
This is a little bit of advertising for future. We have upcoming webinars, including another webinar on November 18 that will give the same information. And you can check ibk.mit.edu for more information and Zoom links, as well as our Twitter.
And I'm going to turn it over now to our fellows. We have a current fellow and a future fellow who will be sharing with us what it was like for them to apply and what their experiences were at MIT. I see that there's a lot of people putting questions in the Q&A. So thank you to everybody and adding your questions.
And we will be answering all the questions at the end. So don't give up. We will still be accepting your questions and passing them on to the appropriate person at the end of the webinar.
So, I'm introducing the next person. My apologies. I've lost my order. But I believe we are beginning with Dana. Is that correct? Yes.
So, Dr. Dana Al-Sulaiman is currently an IBK Fellow in that Doyle Lab in MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering. So, thank you so much, Dana, for being with us here today. And we're excited to hear from you about your experiences.
DANA AL SULAIMAN: All right, thanks for having me. And thanks for that introduction, Dorothy. Let me just share my slides. All right, as-salaam alaykum, everyone. Thank you all for being here.
As Dorothy mentioned, I'm a current IBK Fellow. And today, I'm going to talk to you guys about my IBK Fellowship journey. And since this is an ongoing journey, I wanted to focus more on my motivations as well as some of my perspectives.
So what I have here is actually the first thing my mum told me when I told her that or I introduced her to the concept of me doing a postdoc, she said there's something after a PhD. And so here I was about a year ago. And some of you girls may remember this day when you were no longer a PhD candidate. You were a PhD survivor.
And that day where you were no longer you, you're a doctor you, excuse me. And so that day was a really fulfilling day. It's really fulfilling experience for me. And I was really happy as well, up until I hit this sign.
I didn't know what I wanted to do next. I was at a crossroads. And before I tell you guys how I navigated my way and found my way to the IBK Fellowship into MIT, I thought I'd give you guys a brief overview of my background.
And this is most efficiently illustrated with a map. So I started off in Didim. And at about 14 years of age, I moved to Canada with my older sister to do my high school. And then from there, I discovered the field of biomedical engineering.
And I found jobs that the best place to study biomedical engineering in the UK was at Imperial College, London. So that's where I went. And I did my bachelor's and master's degree. And I managed to secure a full scholarship from the university to continue on and do my PhD. So that's what I did.
And finally, I found a way back to North America here at MIT. And that's what I'm going to talk to you guys about today.
So at the end of my PhD, I remember knowing two things. One, I wanted to get out of London, which is very surprising. And the second thing is that I knew I wanted to do something I was really passionate about, something that would get me out of bed, even if it looked like this outside.
So in preparing for this talk, I reflected back and I realized that it really boiled down to three of my motivations. Number 1, I knew I wanted to continue contributing to the field of cancer research. And I wanted to do that at the world class level.
Number 2, I knew I wanted to further develop myself and grow. And not only as a learner, but also as a teacher. I wanted to contribute to the field of education.
And lastly, I knew that I wanted to be heavily involved in promoting women in STEM. So I'm going to talk to you guys about these three motivations and hopefully show you how MIT, and particularly this fellowship, were so in line with my career goals.
So before I talk about my research at MIT, I thought I'd give you a brief overview of my research during my PhD. Not to dwell too much, but I was trying to develop biosensors to detect cancer at its earliest stages. And that involves trying to detect an emergent class of biomarkers called microRNA.
Very briefly, they have very important gene regulatory functions. But in cancer patients, their levels get deregulated. The nice thing about them is that we find them circulating in all types of biofluids.
So what that means is if we can develop a sensor that's specific and sensitive enough, then we can transform the clinical procedures from the typical invasive tissue biopsy that people typically do to detect cancer and monitor it towards a so-called liquid biopsy. And that was really exciting for me.
But where does MIT fit in? Well, obviously, MIT provides us with a plethora of amazing world class researchers, including my PI, Professor Patrick Doyle. His lab does amazing research on microfluidic and hydrogel-based sensors to detect this microRNA biomarker I was talking to you about.
And from his lab came a startup actually in 2007 called Firefly BioWorks. This is a really famous startup in the field. And just recently, about five years ago, it was acquired by Abcam for $27 million.
So I just wanted to show you guys a brief about how MIT really provides you with the environment to do amazing research, as well as the support to potentially create startups and go into entrepreneurship.
But it's also important to mention, as Professor Kamal also mentioned, that the mere geographic location of MIT in Cambridge is really advantageous, right? It provides you with the opportunity to forge strategic collaborations with our neighboring institutions.
So this is Dr. Frank Slack from over at Harvard. And we're actually collaborating with him at this moment in time on a project. And just to put everything into perspective for you guys, remember that microRNA I was talking about? Well, his lab co-discovered the first human microRNA.
Any person you tell in this field that who's Frank Slack, they'll know exactly who he is. So hopefully you guys get an idea about just the magnitude and the significance of the research that's being conducted at MIT on a daily basis.
So when I came to deciding who I wanted to choose as my PI, and that's something really amazing that IBK gives you the opportunity and the freedom to do, because you're coming in with your own funding, I wanted to make sure that the lab also has expertise outside of my own. So I did work on these biosensors before. But I wanted to make sure that I have an opportunity to grow.
Before I get to there, I wanted to very briefly mention some of my research to date, just to say that if you do have amazing collaborations and communication, then you can also publish. So this paper just got accepted last week. I'm submitting a paper hopefully this week.
Actually, the abstract of this paper got me to MicroTAS. Some of you guys may know this is the most famous conference in the field of microfluidics. And finally, I'm working on a third project in progress with Dr. Frank Slack.
So yes, as I was mentioning, I wanted to make sure that the lab I choose also has expertise outside of my own. And that would give me the opportunity to grow and develop. And that was one of my motivations.
So these are some of the new things I learned from the Doyle Lab, including microfluidics, stop-flow lithography, and some single molecule studies. But not only was I able to develop my research skills as well as my career base skills, I was also able to develop some transferable skills. For example, through the IAP.
IAP is called the Independent Activities Period. It's really famous at MIT. And it's a whole month or a semester where MIT basically shuts down all courses in all classes and gives students and staff the opportunity to investigate whatever activities they want, from music to arts to gaming. And I took that opportunity to take some classes to develop my career.
But not only was I able to contribute as a learner during this period, I also got a chance to be an instructor during one of those IAP courses, especially. The title was Applications of Microfluidics in Chemical Engineering. So that was a really great opportunity.
And along with this theme of teaching, Theresa also mentioned and Dorothy mentioned this, MIT offers this world class program called the Kaufman Teaching Certification Program. And it's built on how you can use research-based and evidence-based strategies to improve your teaching.
And I love teaching. That's why I took it. But also because you get a certificate and a lecture from MIT's vice chancellor. You also come out of it with a draft syllabus of your own course that you can use in your faculty application.
So that was really important for me because I just come out of my PhD. And I hopefully want to apply for assistant professorship in the future. So having this in my hand is really strong in an application, I think.
But lastly, because of what I learned in all the strategies, my PI, Professor Patrick Doyle, he gave me the opportunity to also guest lecture on his grad course. So I thought that was a really amazing opportunity. So things like that do pop up when you're in this fellowship.
And another important thing I learned from the KTCP Program is unfortunately the devastating statistics of women in STEM-- OK, all over the world. And just to highlight this, and I also learned that one of the main factors why women in STEM, and particularly women from marginalized groups, women that are not white or Caucasian, why they leave STEM is because they feel like they don't fit in.
And I really can attest to that from personal experience. That number I've got up there, 12 out of 54, is the number of female faculty members in the Bioengineering Department at Imperial. And it gets even worse at MIT, unfortunately, we're getting there. It's six out of 48 in the Chemical Engineering Department. But our head is female, so that's good.
So the numbers are really low. We are underrepresented. And I just want to show you some pictures of some of my role models growing up as an undergrad and as a grad student. Most of them are female. They're all female up here.
And I wanted to point out a couple of them. I wanted to point out Professor Adah Almutairi. And I wanted to point out because she is also Saudi. And I was ecstatic to know that she was Saudi because I could connect with her. Not only because of her gender, but also because of her ethnicity.
I also wanted to point out Professor Molly Stevens. She's a big name in this field all over the world. But the nice thing about her is that she also did her postdoc at MIT in the Chemical Engineering Department. And I'd always looked up to her and wanted to do things similar to her in terms of her research. And so she ended up being my thesis examiner for my PhD thesis.
So having these females STEM role models was really empowering for me and inspiring for me. So I wanted to do exactly the same thing for the next generation of scientists and engineers. And I really do believe that IBK's objectives really do echo mine when it comes to women in STEM.
So before I wrap everything up, hopefully you guys have seen how my career goals really are in line with IBK's objectives. But before I wrap up, it's very important to note that with such a great opportunity, there are always challenges. And our cohort just happens to have had the COVID crisis hit in the middle of it. And it would be really an understatement to say that it was a time of uncertainty and instability for a lot of us IBK Fellows. And I don't think we would have made it through without the amazing support system we had at IBK and also at MIT.
So that brings me really nicely to my acknowledgment section. Obviously, I wanted to acknowledge the funding from KACST, but also our director Professor Kamal who made this experience very welcoming.
And also last but certainly not least, you've heard from all three of them, Dorothy, Nadiyah, and Theresa. And thanks all of them for making this an amazing experience.
And as my parting remark to all of you girls, I wanted to tell you guys that every experience is very unique. And it is what you make of it, and inshallah, you girls will get the opportunity to experience this firsthand. And thank you all for listening. I will end my screen share.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you so much, Dana. We really appreciate hearing from you about your experiences.
And now I'd like to welcome Dr. Sarah Alhumoud. She is a former IBK Fellow and currently assistant professor of Computer Science at IMSIU. So, thank you very much for joining us today, Dr. Sarah.
SARAH ALHUMOUD: Thank you so much. And I'll be sharing my slides now. OK, I guess you can see the slides now. OK. So I will be starting by introducing myself, my background. And before starting my 10 minutes presentation.
I did my PhD in Wireless Mobile Networks at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. And then I came back 2011 to work at Al-imam University teaching both masters and undergrads.
Also at that time, I held managerial positions. I was the first female vice dean for Gifted and Excellence Deanship. And after that, after two years of that, I was the first female vice dean for the IT Deanship.
Also after that, I was appointed lastly as the general director of gifted in the Ministry of Education. That was after doing my postdoctoral at MIT.
My postdoctoral was 2016 I started. And then I finished January 2017. My slides are flying. I was also the PI of Arabic Sentiment Analysis Group. I'm interested in studying natural language using artificial intelligence. And this is the website of the group.
I will be talking about how did it start and the fellowship, what happened, and the ecosystem reflection on me, and post fellowship. So how did it start? 2013, I came across this article or this little segment of news.
And I still remember this picture until today. I was wondering how can I join this group of ladies to get this grant. And I was searching for the names of the fellows at that time. And I was successful to find the name of one of them.
I contacted and asked, how can I apply. And she said, well, there is an email that would be circulated every year telling us about this grant. So I was waiting and waiting and waiting. And 2014, I didn't get the email. And then 2014 I went to MIT to get a course.
And I was a tourist then. I had the tourist tour on MIT Media Lab. And I saw CSAIL. And I was dreaming of being there one day.
So that was 2014. And I still remember this hack of MIT. It's a symbol of the amount of knowledge that MIT gives to its students and fellows. MIT gives a lot, and you need to be ready for that.
So this was true when I started my fellowship. Summer 2015, I was still searching. In 2016, I applied. I saw the email, and then I applied.
As you said, Theresa, the process is starting by the interview filtering, and then acceptance, professor match. And then we do the proposal. And then I guess I can't see it-- just the arrival. You arrive at MIT.
This process took longer. And before this, at the MIT side it doesn't take long. But at the university side, maybe it takes time to get a TESOL and meet scientific connection. Some universities may take longer than others.
So I arrived at the Alpha Group with Professor Una-May at the CSAIL lab, Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab. I guess I was the first among the fellows to be at the Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab.
I did two projects. I was working on two research projects. The first is Twitter Analysis for Intelligent Transportation. And it was published in the Computer Journal, 2018.
And the second one is Demographic Flow on the Metro-to-be in Riyadh. This is a project to study the flow and capacity of people around the Metro to decide which are the best areas for feeder buses. We did study it and do this visualization that you see here using CDR, or Call Data Records, from STC to plot the capacity of people around Metro stations, the 80 or 85 metro stations in Riyadh. This project is still under process. And I expect it to be published in 2021.
I did several courses. Some of the courses are spanning the whole semester. And some of them are only one-day course. So, the first one was Big Data Visualization and Society. I was privileged to somehow help.
I was auditing this course. But I helped because the data is about Riyadh. And it had sentiment analysis in it. So I had the privilege to help Professor Sarah-- I forgot her last name. It will come again.
I did also courses in Harvard because, as Professor Kamal said, proximity is key in Boston. You have like major universities. And it is a privilege to be here in Boston among Harvard and MIT.
I also was privileged to have some training on entrepreneurship and leadership. I did the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship Development Program. And it was a big shift and an eye opener for me.
I also did some courses in the lab. So I had this conflict management training. And it was crucial. I benefited a lot from most of the courses. I was a panel guest speaker in the Career Panel at MIT 2016, the time I was there.
The course that I collaborated in was Big Data Visualization and Society in Riyadh. And I helped a little bit, not a lot, in the course because it had sentiment analysis and it was about Riyadh.
I had also collaborations with Harvard Kennedy School. It was a collaboration for two years. And it finished now. This collaboration is between Harvard and Saudi Arabia. And I was involved because I had the connection from this course.
So connection is key at MIT. You connect with great people and you have benefit from that.
Ecosystem reflection. The ecosystem had a reflection on me. First is the entrepreneurship aspect of it. Second of course is the research I did in the lab, professional development, classes I took, and art, yes. Something happened when I was in MIT.
I started writing my memoir. And I hopefully will finish it soon and publish it soon. So for my side activities, I do ski, photography, and bike and write. I'll share some of my photos, if you allow me.
Those are some of my photos. Boston is so beautiful all the time, even in winter. I like it so much. I love it so much. And the sunset is magical in Boston.
Yeah, this is winter. I like it. Having grocery.
OK, so this is the book I started writing in 2016. And hopefully finish it in this coming year. And post fellowship, what did I do after MIT. I was appointed as the consultant to the Entrepreneurship Incubator in Al-imam University.
And the leader of this course, Professor Bill Aulet was generous enough to share his content, Disciplined Entrepreneurship course. So we were able to teach it at the university with his help.
And then I worked as a consultant for small SMEs assemblies in Saudi Arabia in Monshaat. Also, I was inspired by the intense and boot-camp style of MIT having a lot of information and little time. And we did research camp for having more than 200 participants. And we are continuing to do that.
The first camp we had three publications coming out of it. And the camp report for those who are interested is published in May 2020 in this journal. After that I was appointed as the general director of gifted in Saudi Arabia, helping to shape the future of our best minds in Saudi Arabia. I was privileged to have this position.
And I want to say thank you. Thank you for everyone who shaped this journey. And from Professor Kamal and Theresa, Kate, Dorothy, and Nadiyah, and everyone who helped shaping this journey, thank you so much.
DOROTHY HANNA: Sarah, thank you so much for sharing with us. Especially fun to see your beautiful photographs and hear about all you've done since you are here with us at MIT. It's great to have you.
SARAH ALHUMOUD: Thank you.
DOROTHY HANNA: We are going to turn it over now to your questions from the audience. So thank you for everyone who has submitted questions through the question and answer feature. And please go ahead and add more. And we'll have questions for all the panelists.
So the first one is for Professor Kamal. And it's a question about a book chapter and what kinds of publications you need for your application. So would a book chapter that is published count as a publication for your application?
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: Thank you for attending and for the questions. So I think the requirements for the application is that you have two journal papers. Additional things, book chapters, books, conference papers, other journal papers, all of those will help in showing the ability of research of the candidate. So the short answer is that if you have a book chapter, so you include it in your CV.
DOROTHY HANNA: It wouldn't count as one of the two peer-review publications.
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: No, it would not. It would not.
DOROTHY HANNA: And also for professor Kamal-- question, do I need to prepare a research plan? And should I focus on practical application in the lab, or could I also be supervised for a more theoretical type of research?
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: So the second question, whether it's mostly practical or mostly analytical or combined, I think that depends on the work that you are doing. We've had people, researchers, students, and so on who have different interests. Some of them are maybe more interested in the analytical part.
And then their work thesis or otherwise would be directed in that way. Others may be more applied. A lot of the things that we do in my lab, for example, are like a combination of the two, the analytical work and then also the applied, just because they go together.
As for the research plan, I think a person should have at least some idea of what they wanted to do. And I think in the application, we do ask for that, not only about the current or the research that the person has done up to now, but also what they envision of doing in the future.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you. Theresa, can you talk to us about the acceptance rate for the fellowship.
THERESA WERTH: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so last year was the first year where our acceptance rate to the Ibn Khaldun Program was actually lower than the MIT Undergraduate Program. So it is a very competitive program. Usually we accept five fellows per year.
Actually, because of COVID, which was a very important question for everyone, we've had to reduce that for this coming year in order to budget for expenses that our fellows have incurred due to COVID. So unfortunately we'll be a little tougher next year.
Anyway, but I encourage you not to be discouraged by that, to apply, put yourself out there. You never know what will happen. Don't think that you can't do this. This is something you can do. We want to receive your application.
And it's actually even happened where somebody has applied twice or three times and eventually do get into the program because they're continuing to improve themselves over the years. So we hope you apply. But it is a very competitive program with not very many places available.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thanks, Theresa. Question for Dana. And this person thanks you, saying it's a great talk, thank you. And what do you wish you had known or done before becoming a fellow?
DANA AL SULAIMAN: All right, thank you for that question. Thank you for the compliment. So I don't know if I would have changed anything or done anything differently. I was just really happy to have heard about the program to start with.
So what I would have done differently is probably try to get more connected to the different programs available. My situation is quite unconventional, I would say, because I did my PhD abroad, so in the UK. So I didn't even know about this program until very, very soon just before the application process.
And I heard about it from an ex-fellow, actually-- Dr. Sanaa AlAttas to you guys, Auntie Sanaa to me-- my mom's friend, actually. So she told me about the program. And I was really glad that I did talk about this and expressed my interest in sciences. And it reached my mum's friend, and she told me about it. So that's something I would have slightly done differently, make sure I'm well connected to the society and to the academic environment in Saudi.
In terms of any other preference preparation, I don't think I would have done anything differently. I learned a lot coming here. So yeah, I don't know if I answered your question, but yeah.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you. And if you do have more clarifying questions, feel free to put them in our question and answer section. This is a question for Dr. Sarah. The question is, what does the proposal entail. And I would also say, like what about your proposal did you do to make a strong proposal for the application.
SARAH ALHUMOUD: Yeah, for the proposal, it's a classical proposal that has like an abstract, introduction, and goals. What are you going to do? Those goals need to be with a timetable. What are you going to do in a timetable?
Also, if you're going to publish any paper, what are you going to publish? So details as much as you can. So this is done with collaboration with your supervisor, yes. And yes, it's a classical proposal document. I can answer this question afterwards.
THERESA WERTH: May I add to that?
DOROTHY HANNA: Go ahead, Theresa, yeah.
THERESA WERTH: I think that maybe there are two pieces that participants have questions about. So in the application, we ask for research statements to talk a little bit about what you would like to do in 500 words. And then I think what Dr. Sarah is talking about is that once you're accepted into the program and matched with a faculty advisor, then we ask you and your faculty advisor to put together that detailed proposal so you have a very strong plan for your time at MIT. And that's where Dr. Sarah's advice is very useful. So thank you so much.
DOROTHY HANNA: This is a three-part question. And I'll answer the first part. Is this fellowship considered a postdoc? Yes, it is. You need to be a PhD. And your appointment at MIT will be as a postdoc.
Second part maybe be for Sarah, Dana, Theresa-- it could be anybody, I guess. Besides research, I want to focus on gaining new research skills, techniques, and experience that will prepare me for both my academic and research career. Also, take courses and attend classes. Will IBK Fellowship allow me to do that?
So the short answer is yes. And maybe Sarah or Dana, if you have suggestions about what were really meaningful or helpful things for you beyond just the lab work. Go ahead, Sarah. Thank you.
SARAH ALHUMOUD: Yes, as everyone said, there are a lot of opportunities to gain knowledge from. It's either your immediate lab or collaborations or courses provided through the API, I guess, Dr. Dana. Is it the API, the summer?
DANA AL SULAIMAN: Yeah, API, it's the final semester.
SARAH ALHUMOUD: It is very rich. So the resources are multiple and very rich. So you can grow in research, either with your lab or through the courses or collaborations. I hope I answered the question. So if you have anything to add--
DANA AL SULAIMAN: I can add to that. Yes, so if you wanted to sit in on actual undergrad or grad level courses at MIT, you can actually do that. But you would sit in as a listener rather than taking it for credit. So you can do that. But you need to approach the PI and send an email of interest, or get your PI to speak to the other professor who's in the course.
So you can do that. But you would be sitting on as a listener. But it's still really a good experience.
DOROTHY HANNA: Go ahead, Kamal. Thank you.
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: Thanks. I'd like to add something to this. So I think the fellows before they come, when they discuss the research content with their supervisor, THE other thing that they will work on is the postdoctoral plan. So MIT requires, in fact, this postdoctoral plan to be completed before the candidate arrives on campus.
And in that plan has all of these issues that are being talked about. For example, not only the technical development of the person but also professional development. And then so the candidate or the fellow can list these kind of things.
Could be from the teaching. Could be the research approach. Could be even experimental thing. We had some fellows before that did not have experimental experience. And we had planned for them so they came to campus and then you know within like a semester or so they ended up making their own things.
So that's one. Please work it out with your supervisor. And it goes into your postdoctoral plan development.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you. Two related questions. How did the IBK Fellowship overcome the coronavirus pandemic? And how did the corona impact working in the lab? So, maybe, Theresa, you could talk about [AUDIO OUT] specifically. And maybe Dana you could talk about what it's been like to work in the lab with corona.
THERESA WERTH: Yeah, thank you, Dorothy. So as I think pretty much any program or institution has felt over the last six or eight months is that we definitely had to go into triage mode. Our community at MIT was scattered. Labs were closed. Nobody was allowed to work for an undefined amount of time.
So we recognized that all of our fellows, regardless of how long they had been on campus, were losing about three months of active lab work. And so what we did is we did a lot of rejiggering of our budget. Sorry for the jargon-- a lot of rethinking of our budgeting to facilitate our fellows who are on campus to receive extensions to their program. So all of the fellows that were on campus were extended in their program for an additional six months.
It is actually very, very rare for us to do extensions. So I do not want to set an expectation that we cannot meet. This is very unusual and came at significant costs in that we will not be able to take our usual number of fellows next year. And the extensions have lower benefits than we were able to offer for a typical year.
So it has been a lot of adjusting. But the fellows who are on campus, we believe have been able to recover the time that they've lost due to COVID. And the fellows who we were originally expecting to welcome to campus in September are all still planning to come to MIT delayed.
So some will be starting in February. Some for their own needs are starting in September. But inshallah, everyone will still be able to do their program. And we've managed to make do. I guess I'll leave it there. So far, everyone's program is proceeding and thriving.
DANA AL SULAIMAN: If you want me to add to that because my research is very lab-based, I did have to stop my research for three months. During that time, I tried to take courses online, as well as do a lot of my data analysis, and so on. But I did have a significant chunk of my time outside of lab. It did slowed things down.
But as soon as I got back, I just wanted to say that MIT is managing this crisis quite well. I would say really well. So we are functional. We are going into labs. I'm getting more hours than I need in the lab.
And just to say a general idea of how things are running. Every three days you have to go and get a COVID test, waiting in line for about 10 minutes. So it doesn't take up too much of your time. You need to do a health attestation every single morning.
And the hours, I guess, on campus are pretty much the same. But you need to make sure that there is a lower number of people in the lab at the same time. But it's quite manageable because our labs are quite big as well. So it's functional, it's manageable. I don't feel like my research is being impacted during this time.
DOROTHY HANNA: Probably a question for Professor Kamal. Is there a criteria for the letter of recommendation? And more generally, what makes a strong letter of recommendation?
KAMAL YOUCEF-TOUMI: I think the strong letter of recommendation is a recommendation that comes from a person who has worked with the fellow before. And the letter would point to the research that was done and some of the important things, not only for the research and how the fellow thinks and approaches problems, problem solving, this kind of thing.
So if the letter comes, let's say, from the president of a university, and the president of the university has never worked with a fellow, then that letter will not have any weight to it. It comes from an important person, but it will not have any weight because there was no significant connection with the fellow.
So the letters that come from people who have worked with you and they can speak about the work that you have done, how you did the work, the ideas, and all of that. Yes.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you. So now multipart question. And I'll answer the first two questions. Is the start date of the program fixed or flexible? It's flexible, although we prefer to have people start in September because we think it's the most effective for using their one year at MIT. But it is flexible depending on your situation.
And will the COVID situation affect the upcoming fellows? We think that fellows will be able to come to MIT and work in the lab in September 2021. Although of course, we don't know for sure.
Next part of this question is, does KACST get involved in the selection process. And the answer is yes. And Dr. Malak, I don't know if you would like to contribute to this, answering this question if you have any comments on that or not?
MALAK ALTHAGAFI: Yes. Thank you, Dorothy. KACST basically do the primary screening of the candidate and selecting from many research scientists here in KACST. Multiple ones, so it goes through multiple in the committee.
And each applicant need get scores. And then we send the best scored applications to MIT. And then it take it from there to MIT. So MIT actually make to final call, not KACST.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you. Two more questions. Can the fellowship be extended? Yes, but it's not very common. And for example, the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason it got extended. So something very unusual in general.
And what type of visa status? If the fellow is coming from a US university, we could take a fellow with OPT. In general, we appoint fellows with a J1 visa. But that we will work out with you once you're accepted.
Let's see. I'm looking through questions and seeing ones we haven't already answered. I think most of them have been answered in one form or another. A lot of questions about the fellowship being one year. The research proposal is for one year.
There's a question that I didn't fully understand. So if you added this question and are still unsure, you could write another question to clarify for us about coming from a Saudi university and what sponsorship is like. I'm not sure how we would answer that.
THERESA WERTH: Just from my experience, I can guess a little bit at some of it. So I can provide some information. And if that is not clarifying, maybe we can ask a follow up question.
So the process for receiving approval from a university to come to MIT varies somewhat from university to university. The way that MIT typically gets involved is by providing supporting documentation. So oftentimes, those processes will require a variety of internal reviews. And that there's a set process for requesting a leave of absence to come to MIT.
Typically what we will do is if you are at a current university and we have a former fellow who has gone through the process, that person can be a very good resource for you. So for instance, if you're at Imam AbdulRahman University, I might say, Sarah, can you please help them understand the process a little bit better. So our former fellows are a resource if you happen to be at a university who's hosted a fellow before.
And we can definitely provide any supporting letters or documentation needed. We have a standard acceptance letter that we send that typically meets the needs of those committees as far as providing information. But Dorothy and Nadiyah can modify that as needed to fit the needs of your university.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you very much, Theresa. And there we go. I know we've reached the end of our allotted time. And some of our panelists need to go on to other things. We will stay online for a few more minutes if you have additional questions.
But I want to thank Dr. Malak from KACST and Dr. Dana and Dr. Sarah for speaking with us, and Professor Kamal for being here as well. So thank you to all of you, as well of course Theresa and Nadiyah.
And thank you to all the participants. And we really look forward to hearing from you and answering your questions via our email address, email@example.com, or reading your application. So thank you all for taking the time to join us this evening.
THERESA WERTH: While everybody's dispersing, there was a question in the chat about whether or not applicants need to reach out to faculty prior to applying. So maybe I can just address that briefly.
DOROTHY HANNA: Great, thank you.
THERESA WERTH: So we ask the applicants put together a list of faculty that they see are working in their research area. But you do not need to reach out to faculty prior to applying. If you're accepted into the program, we use that list as a starting point to facilitate conversations with faculty that are aligned with your research.
So when you're accepted, Dorothy works with you to set up conversations with faculty of interest to you. So that list of three faculty is a starting point. Maybe you'll have found others in the meantime. But we work with you to initiate that process of reaching out to faculty. You do not need to do it in advance.
If by chance you happen to have a relationship with a faculty member at MIT that you know you would like to work with, do let us know. We're very happy to have this fellowship serve to further a relationship you already have. But it is not a requirement to apply. Thanks, everyone.
DOROTHY HANNA: Thank you, everybody. I don't see any more questions. But please do send us your questions. And thank you again to all the panelists.
THERESA WERTH: And your applications.
DOROTHY HANNA: Yes.