Areej Alsheikh-Hussain

Areej is a “multipotentialite”, a term that was recently introduced by Emilie Wapnick, which describes a person who has many different interests and pursuits in life, with an ability to learn and adapt rapidly. Her life goal is to make a difference in science, or in society.

Areej has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and a Master’s degree in Marine Science from KAUST in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), USA. During her undergrad (Sharjah, UAE), she developed an educational game in marine ecosystems. Then for her Master’s (MA, USA), she explored Endozoicomonas, an abundant coral associated bacteria, using FISH and discovered that they are arranged in dense aggregates. She later moved to Masdar Institute (Abu Dhabi, UAE) where she studied the diversity of bacteria in local mangrove sediments and their potential utility in biofuel productionin using 16SrRNA (QIIME).

Areej then moved to Brisbane, Australia to pursue her PhD with the Beatson group in bacterial genomics. For her project, she uses bioinformatics to investigate the evolutionary history of Streptococcus iniae, a bacterium that mainly causes disease in fish (e.g. Barramundi), and occasionally humans. She is also using bioinformatics to investigate potential antibiotic resistance, as well as discover a super protein that can prevent fish disease through vaccination.

During her studies, Areej spent around 6 months away to become an entrepreneur where she established her first startup, AirSponge, the Uber for car wash. She is also a casual Business Development Associate at gemaker, where her backgrounds in science, tech, and business get employed. Areej speaks 3 languages, enjoys sports, and shamelessly loves fashion!


Software Carpentry Instructor (2015-present)
YouTuber – Providing advice to Middle Eastern women through entertaining videos (2015-present)


Winner of Startup Weekend for Women (2015)
iLab Germinat 8 $20K startup grant (2015)
3 Minute Thesis Award, SCMB, UQ 2015 (3rd place)
Recipient of the KAUST Academic Excellence Award (2010 and 2011)
Recipient of Academic honor GPA (four times): 4.0/4.0 (2006 – 2010)


BSc – Computer Science (scholarship, 1st Class)
MSc – Marine Science (scholarship)
PhD – Bacterial Genomics and Bioinformatics (scholarship)


– Investigating the evolutionary history and adaptation mechanisms of S. iniae
– Reverse vaccinology to identify cross-protective fish vaccine against S. iniae
– Screening antibiotic resistance in S. iniae


Ben Zakour NL, Alsheikh-Hussain A et al. Sequential acquisition of virulence and fluoroquinolones resistance has shaped the evolution of Escherichia coli ST131. mBio. 2016. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00347-16

Till Bayer, Matthew Neave, Areej Alsheikh-Hussain, et al. The Microbiome of the Red Sea Coral Stylophora pistillata is Dominated by Tissue- Associated Endozoicomonas Bacteria. AEM. 2013, doi: 10.1128/AEM.00695-13

Areej Alsheikh-Hussain, et al. Fungal cellulases from mangrove forests – a short review. Journal of Biochemical Technology. 2013