Mariam Awlia

PhD Students


Mariam graduated from UCL (University College London) with a BSc. in Biochemistry and joined KAUST for an M.Sc. in Bioscience. Mariam’s PhD project is being developed under the supervision of Prof. Mark Tester and Dr. Stuart Roy from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) at the University of Adelaide (Australia). She is applying a forward genetics approach to develop an association mapping population to map QTLs/genes that are associated with traits contributing to osmotic tolerance in Arabidopsis.

Research Interests

Salt stress significantly reduces plant growth and crop yield, but the early tolerance responses are poorly understood. In my project, I aim to separate the early osmotic component of salinity tolerance (the shoot-ion independent phase) from longer-term effects of salinity on growth, using high throughput and non-destructive imaging of Arabidopsis thaliana.

Phenotyping in the days immediately after salt imposition enables the quantification of the osmotic component by capturing measurements through time of leaf growth, fluorescence (reflecting photosynthetic capacity), and temperature (reflecting changes in stomatal aperture). Doing this for members of bi-parental and association mapping populations of Arabidopsis thaliana enables genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to be undertaken, to identify loci and, ultimately, genes affecting the shoot ion independent tolerance.


  • Dec. 2013 -  Current      PhD in Bioscience,King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  • Aug. 2012 - Dec.2013    MSc in Bioscience,King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  • Sept. 2009 - June 2012  University College of London, BSc in Biochemistry.
  • Sept. 2008 - June 2009  Warwick University, Science & Engineering Foundation Programme.

Professional Profile

  • 2015: Visiting scientist, PSI, Drasov, Czech Republic
  • 2014: Visiting scientist, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia
  • 2013: Directed research student, CDA, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2012-2014: Member of Graduate Student Council, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2012: Directed research student, Institute of Child Health, UCL, London, UK
  • 2012: Summer intern, Biocomputing Unit, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  • 2011: Volunteer counselor, SRSI Program, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
  • 2010: Member of UCL iGEM Team, UCL Biochemical Engineering Lab, London, UK


  • 2008-2012: Recipient of the KAUST Gifted Student Scholarship, a comprehensive scholarship that consists of pursuing a BSc in the UK, followed by an MSc in KAUST.
  • 2010: Gold Medal at the MIT International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. Hypoxon: improved manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals by hypoxia-sensitive triggering of positive feedback loop in E.coli.