The Engineer Diplomat

The Persian Gulf region is home to over half the world’s desalination plants and is responsible for more than one-third of global oil production.

“Now, add nuclear energy to the mix,” says Ghena Alhanaee, a doctoral student in civil engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. With an increasing number of nuclear reactors in operation, a failure on the part of any industry—oil, water or nuclear—would have significant regional and global ramifications.

Recognizing the need to develop a cohesive emergency response plan across energy sectors, Alhanaee is investigating how the Gulf countries can collaborate to improve overall preparedness. Her research examines how industry and government leaders can work toward resolving both cross-industry and cross-national differences that might inhibit cooperation. She envisions an international governing body that includes all countries in the region and for a unified plan to be put in place. Analyzing the intersection of diplomacy, engineering and technology is a core component of her work.

The MIT Technology Review recognized Alhanaee as one of the top 20 innovators under age 35 in the Middle East and North Africa region. Alhanaee's advisor, CPD Faculty Fellow and nuclear safety expert Najmedin Meshkati, underlines that “the lives of 160 million people who live in this geopolitically and ecologically sensitive region could be impacted by Ghena’s research.”

To read more about Alhanaee's story and her work, be sure to check out the Spring 2020 edition of USC's Trojan Family Magazine here.


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