Two Faculty Members Receive Top Honors at Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Award

February 16, 2024

Trophy, and Certificate of Merit for Dr. Emad Alhseinat and Dr. Maryam Al Shehhi


Two faculty members from Khalifa University have won the first and second place at the Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Award – First Cycle, a prestigious accolade that recognizes individuals and organizations committed to protecting the environment and encourages them to lead with innovative environmental solutions.


His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), presented the Environmental Research Projects Awards to Dr. Emad Alhseinat and Dr. Maryam R. Al Shehhi. The Awards acknowledge the best research in environmental sustainability conducted by research institutions or scholars located in Abu Dhabi.


In the ‘Environment Research Projects Award’ category, the first prize was awarded to Dr. Emad Alhseinat, Associate Professor, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, for his project, ‘Harvesting of Clean Energy by Mixing Wastewater Streams with Different Salinities for Sustainable Water Treatment and Water Aquifer Recharging’ funded by ADEK. The second prize went to Dr. Maryam R. Al Shehhi, Assistant Professor, Civil Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering, for her project, ‘Monitoring the Water Quality of the Arabian Gulf from Space,’ funded by Khalifa University.


The two Khalifa University faculty received a trophy, and certificate of merit. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to share their success stories and exceptional performance with others through awareness and training sessions organized by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Award over the next 12 months.


Dr. Alhseinat said: “I am honored to receive the first place in the Environmental Research Projects Award. In the UAE, several brine water streams with two to ten times the salinity of seawater are generated from desalination plants and during oil and gas production, as well as by other industries. These streams are considered waste streams, yet they contain untapped energy that, if extracted, could reduce the cost of the treatment and facilitate the reuse of such complex water sources.


“At Khalifa University, we are developing ion-selective membranes that will allow for improving the efficiency of energy extraction from very complex water streams such as oil and gas-produced water. Moreover, our lab is exploring the possibility of using treated oil and gas-produced water for recharging the underground water aquifer in Abu Dhabi.”


Dr. Alhseinat has so far published three papers with two invention disclosures under preparation, and Dr. Al Shehhi has published three papers.


Dr. Al Shehhi said: “I am delighted and truly honored to receive the prestigious award. My project focuses on monitoring the Arabian Gulf waters from space, which is a significant alternative solution to conventional methods that are economically-unviable. Satellite remote sensing has been increasingly used as a complementary source of information to in situ monitoring networks and, in many cases, is the only feasible source.


“Satellitebased sensors are now capable of directly and indirectly measuring nearly all components of the waters including its physical and biogeochemical properties. Several ocean color satellite missions were launched to serve the application of monitoring the ocean, including MODIS, MERIS, VIIRS, SeaWiFs, and LandSat. Rather than temporary observations, the advantages of these satellites are their high temporal resolution and the large coverage, enabling the study of the physics of backscattering and absorption of the Arabian Gulf waters.”


The Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Award honors those who promote environmental sustainability and achieve sustainable development.


Alisha Roy
Science Writer
16 February 2024