• From internship to a Ph.D. at KAUST

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) offers a fully-funded research internship in computer science. Why become a part of a rich international community of students and researchers at KAUST? We asked Bogdan Ilies who came to KAUST as an intern and then decided to continue his studies in Saudi Arabia.

Bogdan Ilies was as drawn to the beauty and mystery of Saudi Arabia as he was to KAUST itself. The Chemical Science Ph.D. student from Romania came to KAUST as an intern in Professor Salim Al-Babili’s lab. “KAUST is a beautiful place, hidden on the Red Sea shores of Saudi Arabia, where top scientists work together for a more sustainable future,” Ilies said.


His six-month internship with Professor Al-Babili turned into a Master’s Degree at KAUST and then, eventually the Ph.D. program. “Professor Al-Babili helped me develop as a person and scientist,” he said.



He is currently focusing on two projects under the supervision of Professor Mani Sarathy, one a nicotine-combustion device that heats rather than burns tobacco to make smoking up to 95 percent safer for the 1.3 billion active smokers. And second, indirect CO2 capture from reverse osmosis brine waste. “We all know that CO2 levels have reached an absolute record, and measures should be implemented in order to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere to prevent excessive global warming. Brine has a huge potential for carbon capturing. This process is sustainable.”


His work is supported by access to the research facilities, which he described as “cutting-edge, and having the latest lab equipment with plenty of supplies.” Additionally, he said his projects are al well-funded and supplied. “This helped me to totally focus only on my research and accelerated my progress.”


He says he continues to find himself pleasantly surprised by the university and the country, as well. “I chose KAUST to challenge myself both culturally and academically. The university brings together citizens from over 100 countries to thrive together in science and technology. I wanted to take part in this initiative and felt KAUST is the right place where I can pursue my dreams.”


His appreciation for the campus and the country is vast. “I love many things about KAUST: the weather, the people, the food, the culture, and of course the science.”


He takes advantage of beautiful beaches, sports facilities and enjoys seeing families and students also engaging with these.


“Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country, rich in culture and history. It is still mysterious to a great part of the world, so the only way to discover it is by coming here.”


He isn’t quite sure what he’ll do after he completes his Ph.D. He said, “In these three years I have explored a multitude of possibilities and learned that this choice is much harder than I initially thought. I discovered that I like many things. I think that time will reveal what my future steps will be.”



Are you interested in a research internship in computer science at KAUST? Get to know more at the webinar on Wednesday, June 9 2021, at 3 P.M. CET.