Alumni receive $20,000 in Innovation Challenge

25 August, 2020

Congratulations to a team of student and alumni scientists awarded $20,000 for their COVID-19 Innovation Challenge proposal VLALA – the Virtual Laboratory Anywhere- anytime Learning Agent – which plans to ‘liberate scientists to do more science’.

KAUST alumni Noura Shehab (PhD ’14, MS ’10) and Amani Alonazi (PhD ’19), with MS student Samar Alkoblan, came up with this winning idea during a virtual brainstorming via Zoom in the early stages of lockdown, as labs and university classes all over the world (and at KAUST) were temporarily suspended.

VLALA was pitched to the Innovation Challenge organized by KAUST Innovation and Economic Development as a solution that allows researchers to perform experiments anywhere, anytime, interactively. Researchers in VLALA can remotely access a fully automated lab to conduct experiments via a robotic agent in real-time. Also, VLALA offers a simulation platform to provide students with an immersive and interactive 3D simulation of a realistic lab.

The next goal for the VLALA team is implementing the automated lab services within KAUST’s laboratories.