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AUC Faculty Win Egyptian State Prizes for Contributions in Science, Technology

Nahla El Gendy
October 13, 2020

Three of AUC's faculty members won State Prizes in Science and Technology, organized by The Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, for their scientific contributions and achievements.

State Merit Award 

Hassan Azzazy, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, who has been acknowledged for his multiple contributions in chemistry, says, "It is a great honor to win this prestigious State Merit Award in Advanced Technological Sciences. There is no doubt that this award recognizes the caliber, great efforts and productivity of my research teams at AUC. We have worked very hard and implemented innovative ideas to develop practical solutions and prototypes to address multiple health and environmental challenges. Winning this award motivates us to work even harder toward improving health care and environmental protection." 

Azzazy has over 30 years of experience in biomedical research and is the founder of AUC's Novel Diagnostics and Therapeutics research group, which has been working on developing innovative diagnostics for accurate and affordable detection of biomarkers of cancer and infectious agents, including hepatitis C. The group also develops biodegradable nanofibers loaded with natural antibacterials for use as wound dressings, optical chemosensors for detection of heavy metals in water, and nanocapsules encapsulating chemotherapeutic agents for breast cancer therapy. The research group consists of multidisciplinary teams of researchers, mainly focusing on applied research and has published numerous papers in international journals, obtained several patents, and won international technology business plan competitions. 

Azzazy has also co-founded AUC's D-Kimia, the first University spinoff in Egypt, which develops novel assays to detect a broad range of diseases by targeting the nucleic acid signature of the disease. The patent-pending platform has initially been tested for the identification of hepatitis C virus in patients. Azzazy managed and supervised several campaigns to raise awareness of the hepatitis C virus, which affected millions of Egyptians every year. In addition, Azzazy coached several AUC student teams that participated in the international biosensor competition (SensUS), organized by the Technical University of Eindhoven in the NSetherlands. Students have won several awards for the developed biosensors.

State Excellence Award 

Nageh Allam, professor of physics, won the State Excellence Award in Advanced Technological Sciences for his research on the design and fabrication of nanostructured materials for energy application. The winning research mainly focuses on using such materials to harvest sunlight and convert it, either directly into electricity (solar cells) or indirectly to split water and generate hydrogen for use as a clean fuel. Equally important is energy storage, which was the second part of the winning research.

"The development of renewable, low-cost energy technologies is a key scientific challenge for the 21st century," said Allam. "I am so pleased to win this award; hard work is finally paying off. More importantly, I am happy for my research team, who managed to design and synthesize very efficient electrode materials to manufacture supercapacitor devices, using earth-abundant and cheap materials to ensure long-term sustainability. It shows that good work is still being watched over and be distinguished," said Allam.

Looking forward, Allam and his team are working hard to design highly efficient devices for the same applications (solar cells and solar fuels). "We are extending the work toward essential areas such as energy-efficient water desalination systems, high-energy density batteries and recycling of carbon dioxide," he added. "Two other projects that are very essential and are starting to show promising results are the recycling of spent batteries into other useful energy storage media, and the conversion of agriculture waste into biogas with low carbon dioxide content for use as fuel."

State Encouragement Award 

Omar Abdelaziz, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, won the State Encouragement Award in Engineering Sciences for his multiple contributions to refrigeration and cooling/air conditioning. His research specifically addresses the conversion of industries to utilizing low global warming potential refrigerants that are energy-efficient and climate-friendly to reduce global warming and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"Over the last five years, I have focused my attention to supporting the global move towards environmentally friendly lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants for use in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration," said Abdelaziz. "My work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2014 and 2015 was critical to ensure the developing countries, especially those with high ambient temperature environments, that there are potential solutions to currently used ozone-depleting or high GWP refrigerants. I then worked closely with various international organizations to help develop heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions with natural or low GWP refrigerants."

Another critical research topic that Abdelaziz is working on is developing sustainable cooling systems that involve novel technologies, including magnetic refrigeration and other not-in-kind technologies. "Through these efforts, I was able to develop new patents in magnetic refrigeration using a novel all-solid technology and showcase that separate sensible and latent cooling is considered as the best approach for providing the most efficient cooling strategy," he added.

Abdelaziz is currently a member of the United Nations Ozone Secretariat Techno-economic Assessment Panel and co-chair of its Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, and Heat Pump Technical Options Committee. He is an active member of the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering and serves on its Research Administration Committee as research activity subcommittee chair.

 "I was quite surprised to hear about the award. I am humbled to be amongst so many pioneers in my field who have already received the same state award," said Abdelaziz.

Moving forward, Abdelaziz will continue to develop sustainable energy-efficient heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions -- with a special emphasis on developing countries. "I will look into more efficient ways for renewable energy integration to ensure that the technologies I work on provide integrated solutions that apply to both developing and developed communities."