Hector H. Hernandez

Hector H. Hernandez


Program: Chemical Engineering
Phone number: +971 2 810 9201

Dr. Hector H. Hernandez joined the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology as assistant professor in Chemical Engineering in 2011. Prior to joining Masdar Institute, Dr. Hernandez was a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this role he led a team of graduate and undergraduate students in the characterization of microbial communities isolated from a Carbon Sequestration injection site.

Dr. Hernandez’s laboratory, Microbial Environmental and Chemical Engineering Laboratory (MECEL), focuses on applying biotechnology tools and engineering principles to microbial systems to address challenges facing society in the areas of energy, climate change, diminishing nutritional resources, and bioremediation of ecosystems in the United Arab Emirates. The MECEL team is working on isolating and characterizing microalgae species from the United Arab Emirates, identifying the microbial composition of camel gut ecosystem, identifying microbes from the desert for biotechnological use, and investigating the role of invasive microbiological species from shipping lanes in the Gulf waters around the United Arab Emirates.

You can read more about Dr. Hernandez and the research conducted in his laboratory by visiting the laboratory’s web pages at: MECEL


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  • Rashed Ali Rashed Al Tayyari Bani Ebrahim


Research Scientist

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Courses/Teaching interests:

  • FDN471 - Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering
  • CHE520 - Biochemistry for Engineers


Isolation and characterization of microalgae species from the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the leading oil export counties in the world. In spite of this, the UAE has embarked in an ambitious plan to become one of the world’s leader in renewable and sustainable energy research and development (R&D). Photosynthetic biomass can help create a renewable energy source that can displace traditional fossil fuel as an energy dense commodity. Microalgae and cyanobacteria species can provide an alternative to traditional biomass-to-fuel source. [Read more]


Camel Gut Microbiome
Camels farming and racing is a large part of the UAE livestock production with camels outnumbering cattle by a ratio larger than 6:1. Camels are known to produce 45 kg of methane per year. These data point to an active methanogenic microbial community in the camel gut. Very little work has been done to characterize the chemical potential of the microbial communities in the camel gut. This study aims to (1) investigate the members of the camel gut microbial community by examining the camel dung and (2) isolate methane producing bacteria from camel dung. [Read more]


Effects of Invasive Microbial Species on the United Arab Emirates Costal Waters Ecosystem
The UAE is bordered by the Arabian Gulf on its north shores and by the Gulf of Oman on its eastern shores. These waters are major shipping routes for the global import of goods and the export of oil and gas. Non-indigenous microbial species transported through ballast water and discharged into the coastal waters threaten to upset an already stressed ecosystem. This work seeks to identify the local fauna in the ecosystem and to design early warning advanced detection systems, along with remediation protocols to address potential challenges to the UAE coastal ecosystems. [Read more]


Isolation and Characterization of Desert Soil Microbes from the United Arab Emirates
Over 70% of the geography of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is composed of desert and arid lands. These harsh soils are characterized by their low organic substances and water sources, large annual variation in temperature, and the exposure to high levels of radiation. In spite of these extreme conditions, these soils harbor a diverse microbial community. To date, there are few reports that that identify microbial populations in the UAE and Abu Dhabi. This project is identifying the diverse microbial desert community and isolating novel microorganisms from this extreme desert environment. [Read more]

Selected Publications:

 Conference Papers

  • Al Harethi A, Rodriguez J, Hernandez HH. Isolation and characterization of microalgae strains for biopolymer and bioplastic production, ANTEC Mumbai, Society of Plastic Engineers, Mumbai, India, 2012
  • Al Harethi A, Rodriguez J, Hernandez HH. Isolation and characterization of high saline tolerant algae strains from the United Arab Emirates, EnerBiomassa’12, Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil, 2012
  • Alhajeri T, Rodriguez J, Hernandez HH. Analysis of ballast water microorganisms and their inactivation using approved IMO technologies, Emirati Swiss Friendship Forum, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2012
  • Vergnetti G, Tsai IT, Hernandez HH, Al Hajri T. Integration of Ballast Water Treatment and Fresh Water Production for Abu Dhabi: An Economic Assessment, COSA 2012, Bangkok, Thailand, 2011
  • Kida Y, Ates A, Hernandez HH, Timko MT, Green WH. Supercritical water desulfurization of model sulfur compounds, 9th International Symposium on Heavy Oil Upgrading, Production and Characterization, ACS National Meeting, San Diego, California, USA, 2012