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AUS emirati student Mouza Almualla’s achievements gain international recognition
American University of Sharjah (AUS) student Mouza Almualla has always had an interest in understanding the universe at the largest and smallest of scales. In her junior year of high school, she began watching videos that beautifully visualized various concepts of physics and astrophysics. She witnessed scientists continuously making astounding discoveries about the universe and she dreamed of one day making her own contribution to that knowledge.
Almualla, a UAE national who is a senior undergraduate student, has double-majored in physics and electrical engineering at AUS. She spent most of her undergraduate research career focusing on multi-messenger astrophysics, a field that studies one single event through multiple different lenses. For graduate school, she is interested in exploring the areas of galaxy formation and cosmology. She has been accepted into fully funded astrophysics and physics PhD programs at Harvard University, Caltech (the California Institute of Technology), MIT, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
“To me, one of the most exciting parts about doing research is getting to learn and collaborate with insanely talented and passionate people. The idea of spending the next few years of my life in pursuit of knowledge and discovery within astrophysics, of engaging in discussions with people who are revolutionizing our current understanding of the universe--that is what drives me towards wanting to pursue a PhD at one of these institutions,” said Almualla.
Her academic publishing career is already off to an impressive start. She is first-author of two papers published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the co-author of 12 papers published in journals such as Nature Astronomy and The Astrophysical Journal. These papers, written in collaboration with scientists from renowned organizations such as NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Caltech, have garnered more than 200 citations already.
Almualla has also presented her work at international conferences such as the COSPAR Scientific Assembly and MEARIM (Middle East and African IAU Regional meeting), and the Gulf Astronomy Colloquium, and led a team that won first place in the Mohammed bin Rashed Space Centre's Explore Mars Poster Competition. Recently, she won the Regional Prize for Mathematics and Physics at the Global Undergraduate Awards.
Almualla credits AUS for supporting her to be where she is today. “I am so appreciative of my advisor, Dr. Nidhal Guessoum, and the physics department at AUS for their support, encouragement and guidance throughout the years. I am also endlessly thankful to Dr. Mansi Kasliwal and Shreya Anand at Caltech, and Dr. Michael Coughlin at the University of Minnesota, for giving me opportunities I would have never even dreamed of having. I am lucky to know the most amazing and supportive people both inside and outside academia, and am forever in their debt,” she said.
She added, “I would have never gotten to this point without having been introduced to research as an undergraduate. Undergrad is such a great time to explore your interests and figure out what gets you excited, and collaborating with faculty and researchers inside and outside AUS was essential to me finding my way as a scientist.”
After earning her PhD, Almualla hopes to continue doing astrophysics research, either as a professor or as a scientist at a research center. More importantly, she wishes to help inspire and support people in their own journeys of becoming scientists, especially those who feel like they do not belong or like the dream is too far-fetched to become reality.
For more information about the university’s Bachelor of Science in Physics degree, please visit: https://www.aus.edu/physics.