How do I know who my advisor is? Can I change my advisor?

​For M.S. students, your advisor when you are admitted to KAUST is the Program Chair. For Ph.D. students, your advisor is your PI (supervisor) whose lab you have been accepted in to. 

Yes, you can change your advisor. M.S. students are advised to do so if/when they begin their thesis or directed research.  Ph.D. students do have the ability to change advisors, but the overall impact to the Ph.D. project, as well as the time left to finish the Ph.D., could be significant.  This will have to be taken into account before approval.

​M.S. students need 36 credits (combination of courses and research is specific to your program). 

Ph.D. students need 6 credits of 300-level coursework and will earn dissertation research credit each semester until they defend (no minimum credits established, although there is a minimum residency requirement of 2.5 years).

​During your final M.S. semester at KAUST, you will be eligible to submit a “rollover” application.  You will be contacted by the Admissions Office for this.  You must have a confirmed supervisor in order for the application to be approved.

​M.S. students get all university holidays (Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, Spring break).  

Ph.D. students get university holidays and three weeks of annual/vacation leave per calendar year to be taken in agreement with your PI.

​Mandatory, core and elective courses are listed in the program guide. The program guides for all BESE programs can be found here 
​“Time Extension to Complete M.S. Thesis” application request can be submitted by the 9th week of your final Fall semester.  See application for required approvals here .
​No.  Only once during your time here at KAUST.  If “WE Courses” appears on your KAUST transcript, that means you have met this requirement.​
​Yes, both M.S. and Ph.D. in all BESE programs must register, attend, and receive an S grade for the graduate seminar each semester (Spring and Fall, NOT summer).

​Yes. Drop and Add deadlines are on the academic calendar.

​Your GPC can help you request these from the Registrar’s Office, or you can contact them directly at  RegistrarHelpDesk@KAUST.EDU.SA​​ 

Latest Events

Spatio-temporal variability of top-down control of planktonic prokaryotes in the Red Sea

Understanding the interactions between planktonic prokaryotes and their controlling factors remains a challenge to fully comprehend microbial food webs in tropical and subtropical regions. The Red Sea is one such region, which can be considered extreme due to its elevated salinity and temperature values. The standing stock and productivity of prokaryotes are simultaneously controlled by bottom-up (i.e., resources availability) and top-down (i.e., protistan grazing and viral lysis) factors, with temperature also playing a paramount role. This dissertation aims at assessing the variability of planktonic prokaryotes, with a focus on heterotrophic prokaryotes, and their controls over various spatio-temporal scales in the Red Sea. We conducted two years of monthly samplings in inshore and offshore surface waters of the central Red Sea differing in their trophic status, and performed 4 microcosm experiments at the former site covering the seasonal cycle to determine the joint impact of nutrients and temperature on the abundance of bacterioplankton, heterotrophic nanoflagellates (HNFs) and viruses. We also conducted 11 vertical profiles (from 5 to 700-1000 m) along a latitudinal gradient from 16 ºN to 27 ºN. Sampling was also carried out in three brine pools (Suakin, Port Sudan and Afifi). Using flow cytometry, we distinguished 5 groups of heterotrophic prokaryotes based on their nucleic acid content, membrane state and respiration activity, 3 groups of autotrophic bacteria (Prochlorococcus and two Synechococcus groups), HNFs and 3 groups of viruses of differing nucleic acid content. Our findings indicate a persistent seasonal switch between HNFs and viruses in controlling the abundances of heterotrophic prokaryotes in surface inshore waters with offshore waters being more loosely controlled by top-down factors. Bacterioplankton and their top-down controls showed a greater response to inorganic and mixed nutrients additions than to temperature, suggesting that the impact of future warming in the Red Sea will be minor. Together, our results also support that strong top-down control is largely responsible for the low stocks of heterotrophic prokaryotes in the Red Sea compared with other tropical regions, with viruses being a more important source of mortality in brine pools. Overall, this dissertation provides detailed insights into the role of bottom-up and top-down controls in regulating prokaryotes abundances in the relatively less known tropical and subtropical waters.


Eman I Sabbagh