Posted on March 30, 2016

Qatar University (QU) had an impactful outing at the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference (ARC ‘16) which was held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC). With presentations by its President and a number of its esteemed researchers and academics, QU hosted a booth in the complementing exhibition where it showcased some of the outstanding research outputs from the university.

Qatar University President Dr. Hassan Al-Derham was a panelist during the keynote panel discussion on “Strategic Investment in Research and Innovation for Society”. He said: “At Qatar University, we use opportunities like this to demonstrate what we have been able to achieve and prove our commitment to be recognized within the region for distinctive excellence in education and research through the work of our committed faculty and talented students that touches on local and regional challenges and advances knowledge.”

Dr. Asma Al-Thani, Dean, College of Health Sciences, while contributing during the healthcare session on Biomedical and Health Research in Qatar which focused on “Transforming Challenges into Competitive Advantages and Economic Opportunities” shed light on how the Qatar Genome Program (QGP) would advance personalized healthcare and stimulate innovation. Incubated by Qatar Biobank, the QGP aims to identify a genetic marker unique to the Qatari population and transform Qatar into a leading center for the implementation of advanced personalized healthcare.

Dr. Al-Thani said that the QGP seeks to assist in creating a roadmap for the study of genetics and its functions, enabling the development of personalized healthcare through the implementation of precision medicine measures and using research conducted at various research centers in Qatar. Dr. Radhouan Ben-Hamadou, Assistant Professor - Marine Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, who spoke on research about “Investigation of Spatiotemporal Variability of Microplastics in Qatar’s Coastal Environment” relayed that the study provided “the first insight on the spatiotemporal variability of plastic marine liter in Qatar and seemingly in the Gulf region.”

He said that with over 8 million tons of plastics dumped in the ocean annually, plastics are persistent in the environment and take several decades to degrade especially in the ocean. The results of the study, according to him, indicate that microplastics are ubiquitous and the fact that they are easily mistaken for food and ingested by zooplankton and smaller fishes makes them a serious threat to the marine food web. Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences on the outcome of research on “Effect of intensive weight loss camp and maintenance clubs on overweight school children in Qatar”, said the intervention camp was effective in significantly reducing the weight of all participants, despite its short duration of 11 days.

“After school clubs showed effectiveness in maintaining or further enhancing weight loss achieved in the camp and in engaging parents. The synergistic effect of the camp and after school/community clubs suggests promising potential for successful incorporation of this integrated intervention into the school curriculum, especially since the camp occurs during mid-year school break and the after school clubs during school days”, Dr. Ahmedna said.

Yara Qutteina, Senior Research Assistant, Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) while presenting the first study in Qatar to explore how women understand their agency scale items, said that even though decades of research has been conducted to understand the processes that undergird women’s empowerment and one of its core components--women’s agency, few inroads have been made into the study of how the processes work in Arab Middle Eastern societies. The study, according to her, revealed that the majority of women originally reported that they made their own decisions; but probing revealed family input as an important part of the decision-making process, even as women’s responses to gender attitude items were reflective of broader Qatari societal norms rather than their own individual opinions.

On his part, Dr. Yassir Semmar, Assistant Dean for Student Academic Support, College of Education, while giving an overview on a research on “An Exploratory Study of Teachers’ Perceptions of Prosocial Behaviors in Preschool Children”, said that “children’s social development is facilitated in the context of the unique, socialization experiences they encounter at school” which are likely to manifest themselves in prosocial or aggressive behaviors.

He said the purpose of the study was to assess the occurrences of prosocial behaviors in preschool children according to teachers’ perceptions and examine if variations of prosocial behaviors exist across gender and level (i.e., KG 1 vs. KG 2). The findings revealed that prosocial behaviors occurred at moderate levels irrespective of gender and school level. Girls were noted to display relatively more prosocial behaviors than their boy counterparts.

Nader Meskin, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, speaking on “Robust Controller and Fault Diagnoser Design for Linear Systems with Event-based Communication” said that in the past few years, the problem of event-triggered feedback control design in which the control action is only driven when required and determined by a certain condition on the plant measurements, has received considerable attention. He said that the research showed that by using the proposed event-triggered strategy applied to both the sensor and controller/filter nodes, the amount of data that is sent through the sensor-to-controller/filter and controller/filter-to-actuator channels are dramatically decreased. 

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