Rana el Kaliouby ’98, ’00, chief strategy and science officer of Affectiva, a spinoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, has been named to the Board of Trustees of The American University in Cairo (AUC). Currently the youngest member of the board, el Kaliouby sees her election as a “huge honor and big responsibility.”“I recall that as an undergraduate in the mid-1990s, I admired the portraits of the Board of Trustees as they hung in the Main Campus,” el Kaliouby said. “I always felt that they were the guardians of this great institution. So I am excited to be joining this accomplished group of individuals, learning from them and working alongside each and every one of them. I applaud the Board of Trustees for valuing the importance of a diverse board and for reaching out to individuals who bring different perspectives to the table.”
Richard Bartlett, Board of Trustees chair, welcomed el Kaliouby as an asset to the board. “Rana has established herself on a global scale as a successful entrepreneur, innovator and scientist,” he said. "As a young alumna, she will bring forth a unique perspective with her insights and cross-cultural exposure.”
At Affectiva, the firm focused on emotion sensing and analytics, el Kaliouby invented the company’s award-winning, emotion-sensing and analytics technology. Prior to that, as a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab, el Kaliouby spearheaded emotion technology applications in a variety of fields including mental health and autism research. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Wired, Forbes, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN and TIME. A TED speaker, el Kaliouby was recognized by Entrepreneur as one of the Seven Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014 and was inducted into the Women in Engineering Hall of Fame. She is a recipient of the 2012 MITTechnology Review’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35 award and listed on Advertising Age’s 40 under 40. El Kaliouby holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from AUC and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. She received the 1998 President’s Cup from AUC for graduating top of her class.
Over the past 15 years, el Kaliouby gained extensive experience in academia and business. Having lived in Egypt, the Gulf, United Kingdom and currently the United States, she understands what it is like to be part of what she described as “an evolving global world where AUC is not only competing with other Egyptian institutions, but rather the world at large.”
“I am particularly interested in sharing my perspective on the importance of liberal arts and multidisciplinary education and the importance of having a close connection with industry, as well as a design and innovation-oriented mindset,” she said, adding that she is eager to serve her alma mater.
“I wore several hats at AUC,” she noted. “I was there as an undergraduate and master’s student, where AUC was really the springboard for my academic and research career. I was also a staff member; my very first job ever was at AUC’s Academic Computing Services. I briefly taught at AUC right after my receiving my doctorate, so I got to wear a faculty hat. I look forward to wearing one more hat, that of a trustee. I am forever indebted to this institution and am excited to have the opportunity to give back.”
Distinguished in their accomplishments in the areas of business, law, education, philanthropy and scholarship, members of AUC’s Board of Trustees are all volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to supporting the University. Primarily Egyptians, Arabs and Americans, trustees do not receive a salary and provide their own financial support to the University. AUC’s trustees include Moataz Al-Alfi, chairman of the Americana Group, Dina Habib Powell, managing director and global head of corporate engagement at Goldman Sachs, and Ahmed Zewail, Nobel laureate and the Linus Pauling Chair Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.