Meet the Current Azrieli Fellows

2018-2019 Azrieli Fellows

Dr. Avraham Ashkenazi

Dr. Ashkenazi is a new faculty member at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine and School of Neuroscience. He returned to Israel from a postdoc at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. His research utilizes state-of-the-art technologies to elucidate cellular mechanisms of neurological disorders. Some of these diseases progress late in life, such as Huntington’s Parkinson’s disease. A common characteristic in these diseases is the accumulation of proteins that are not folded properly and can form aggregates in the brain, which could lead to neuron death. Dr. Ashkenazi’s lab is currently focused on the ubiquitin-proteasome and autophagy pathways, the main routes to break down aggregate-prone proteins. He aims to elucidate novel regulatory pathways of protein homeostasis to better understand the basis of and treat these devastating diseases.

Dr. Shai Bel

Dr. Bel is a new researcher in the Faculty of Medicine at Bar-Ilan University. He investigates how the complex relationship between humans and their microbiome is sustained and why it breaks down in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The human intestine is home to trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi – collectively, the microbiome. Recent discoveries have revealed that this microbiome plays an essential role in maintaining human health but is also involved in many human pathologies such as obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. Dr. Bel and his research team use genetically engineered mice, combined with high-resolution microscopy and RNA sequencing to understand how the human body maintains healthy separation from the microbiome and the relation between that separation and inflammatory bowel diseases. Their mission is to understand the conditions for the development of these diseases and find ways to treat them.

Dr. Gil Cohen

Dr. Cohen is a new faculty member at the Department of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University, returning to Israel after postdoctoral positions at Princeton and Caltech. His interests lie in the foundations of theoretical computer science, and revolve mostly around studying the role of randomness in computation. Fundamental questions such as how can we harness randomness for our computational needs, how could one “purify” defective random sources efficiently, and whether or not we can bypass the need for randomness in algorithms altogether, are at the core of his research. Such questions have many applications for coding theory, combinatorics, cryptography and more. Dr. Cohen’s research is mathematical in nature and makes extensive use of algebraic structures as well as probabilistic and combinatorial reasoning.

Dr. Ben Maoz

Dr. Maoz is a new faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. He returned to Israel after completing his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. His research develops a new method for studying human physiology, focusing on the brain: “Organs-on-a-Chip” (OOC). These provide a conceptually new direction as organ functionality is mimicked in a microfluidic chip by using human cells. This concept enables us to tackle fundamental questions in human physiology without the need for human or animal experimentation. In his lab, Dr. Maoz will develop and implement this methodology in order to study complex human systems, with emphasis on deciphering the unknown interaction in the brain after traumatic injury, and by this identify potential drug targets and advance the treatment of head injuries.

Dr. Yakir Paz

Dr. Paz is a lecturer in the Departments of Talmud and Classical Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His postdoctoral studies were conducted at the universities of Yale and Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University. His research focuses on commentaries in antiquity; the impact of Roman law on rabbinic law; Jews and Christian in the Sasanian Empire – the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire; theological polemics in antiquity; Syriac and Armenian literature; and ancient Jewish magic. In his current project, he reconstructs the various aspects of the Jewish communities in the Sasanian Empire outside of Babylonia (central Iraq). Since the Babylonian Talmud was composed largely in Babylonia, it mainly represents the point of view of the rabbis of that region. By cross-referencing its biased depiction of Jews outside Babylonia with non-Jewish sources, Dr. Paz hopes to uncover the cultural and religious diversity of the Jews during this crucial period.

Dr. Michal Rabani

Dr. Michal Rabani is a new faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, returning to Israel after completing her PhD at MIT and a postdoc at Harvard University. She studies how molecular circuits inside living cells control the RNA products of genes, to generate the precise RNA levels that drive embryonic cells to assume more specialized identities during development. She particularly focuses on early embryos, which do not produce new RNAs, but function by regulating existing maternally deposited products. Dr. Rabani uniquely addresses these questions by using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo as a powerful in vivo model of vertebrate development. Her research implements cutting-edge genomic technologies and develops novel high-throughput assays, computational algorithms and statistical models to extract biologically meaningful insights. Understanding these basic cellular processes has wide implications for many practical applications, ranging from bioengineering to disease mechanisms.

Dr. Judith Weiss

Dr. Weiss is a senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She conducted her postdoctoral studies at the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT) and the Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (LEM-CNRS) in Paris, and then at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her studies focus on the mystical and Kabbalistic literature written in Europe during the High Middle Ages and Renaissance by both Jews and Christians, as well as on the various types of overt and covert interrelations between them. Dr. Weiss’ current project wishes to contextualize and analyze medieval Kabbalistic thought not only as expressing inner-Jewish intellectual and cultural trends, but also as an expression of the general, non-Jewish, historical and cultural milieu from which Kabbalah emerged, and particularly the rich religious and cultural diversity characterizing this period.

Dr. Moran Yassour

Dr. Yassour is a new faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine. She completed her postdoctoral training at MIT’s Broad Institute and Harvard. Her lab seeks to transform our understanding of the infant gut microbiome – the community of bacteria that live in our bodies and help educate our immune system, digest our food and protect us from pathogens. By computationally analyzing samples from infants and their parents that will be collected at unprecedented scale and depth, they will examine (1) how delivery mode affects establishment of the microbiome; (2) how early life feeding impacts its development; and (3) the microbial community’s implication on the onset of pediatric food allergies. Dr. Yassour’s research will enable the development of interventions to colonize the gut of children born by C-section, supplement the diet of formula-fed children, and shift the infant gut microbiome to a less “allergy-prone” state.

Dr. Tamir Arviv

Dr. Arviv completed his PhD at the University of Toronto University and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Technion’s Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning. He explores the relationship between the planning and design of high-rise complexes (HRCs) in ethnically mixed Israeli cities, and the everyday practices and interactions among residents of seemingly divided social groups, principally Arabs and Jews. Using a variety of methodologies, including in-depth interviews, observations and surveys, Dr. Arviv studies how residents use public and semi-public spaces in daily life and how they serve as meeting points for the various groups. Beyond his contribution to the body of knowledge concerning the nexus of city planning, multiculturalism, and shared spaces, Dr. Arviv wishes to provide planners, designers and policymakers with a deeper understanding of the new social and spatial opportunities and challenges posed by HRCs in multicultural urban areas in Israel and around the world.

Dr. Hugues Beauchesne

Dr. Beauchesne completed his PhD in physics at Carleton University, Canada, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research is the field of high-energy physics phenomenology and the study of the experimental consequences of particle physics theories. Dr. Beauchesne focuses on both finding new solutions to the hierarchy problem, the need for extreme fine-tuning of the Higgs boson mass, and designing new strategies to discover these models at colliders. The model building aspect of his work considers new avenues in supersymmetry, neutral naturalness, extra spatial dimensions and cosmological relaxation, while his investigation of their experimental signatures includes collider simulations, analyses of exotic collider objects and design of new search strategies. If successful, his work could provide new insights into the smallness of the electroweak scale and help orient the work of experimentalists at current and future particle colliders.

Dr. Adina Houldin

Dr. Houldin completed her PhD in rehabilitation sciences at the University of Toronto. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Haifa’s Department of Occupational Therapy, she currently explores the use of virtual reality technology and its application to physical and cognitive rehabilitation training of children with developmental coordination disorder. This research aims to elucidate the mechanisms behind the generalization and transfer of learning from the virtual environment to “real world” activities. Virtual reality offers a unique and practical approach to improving skill performance beyond the rehabilitation context. Using it, Dr. Houldin hopes to develop the application of the burgeoning field of virtual reality rehabilitation to provide better therapeutic outcomes for children with developmental difficulties.

Dr. John Saunders

Dr. Saunders completed his PhD in pure mathematics at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mathematics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He focuses on the areas of combinatorial and analytic number theory, tackling problems that have a wide variety of applications, such as to cryptography and computer science.

Dr. Saunders applies tools from combinatorics, probability theory, sieve theory, graph theory, and complex analysis to show that how classical mathematical objects can spur new developments. His goal is to develop strategies that can solve a wide variety of problems. These strategies have the potential of creating new connections between different areas of mathematics, thereby equipping mathematicians with novel approaches to tackling currently unyielding problems in diverse areas.

Dr. Noah Stemeroff

Dr. Stemeroff is a postdoctoral scholar at Tel Aviv University, holding a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto’s Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. His research focuses on the role mathematics plays in shaping our understanding of the natural world, examining the historical development of differential geometry and its philosophical implications. This study will expand upon neo-Kantian work in the philosophy of science and aims to provide a new perspective on the conceptual development of modern theoretical physics.

Dr. Essam Assali

Essam Assali studies in the MD/PhD track in the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research is in the field of metabolism. Essam focuses on targeting the mitochondria – tiny organelles in our cells that act like power plants. When excess nutrients are provided, the mitochondria will drive the cell to store them in form of fat, leading to obesity. To treat obesity and its related diseases, we need to “convince” them to burn nutrients and dissipate energy in the form of heat. Unlike the white adipose tissue, where cells warehouse nutrients in the form of fat, in the brown adipose tissue cells burn fat and generate heat in response to cold. In order to reduce the body’s metabolic efficiency and make it waste energy without the stimulus of cold, Essam is looking at novel molecular mechanisms that can induce the thermogenic capacity of the brown adipose tissue by calcium signaling, so that if that tissue becomes more active than the white tissue, obesity and the diseases it causes may be reduced.

Yinon Bar-On

Yinon is a PhD student in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His research field is quantitative biology, with a focus on the biomass composition and productivity of the biosphere (global amount of carbon fixation). Yinon aims to aggregate data from various sources to generate estimates of the global mass of all the kingdoms of life (plants, bacteria, fungi and animals). By combining estimates of the total biomass with additional data on the composition of key proteins within each group of organisms, Yinon seeks to estimate the global quantity of key proteins in global biogeochemical cycles (such as the main carboxylating enzyme RuBisCO. Estimating the total global biomass may allow us to quantitatively track humans impact the biosphere. Moreover, by estimating the quantity of key enzymes in global biogeochemical cycles, Yinon can probe into the factors which control global rate of carbon fixation, and thus into CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Haddar Beiser

Haddar Beiser is a PhD student in the Department of Musicology at Tel Aviv University. Her research addresses the interrelations between music and rhetoric in the late Middle Ages, through the songs of the era’s most prolific poet-composer, Guillaume de Machaut. Haddar borrows literary-rhetorical tools, which had an impact on Machaut as a poet, into the analysis of his music. By showing that Machaut’s music follows the principles of classical rhetoric as studied by poets in the Middle Ages, Haddar challenges the prevalent view that rhetoric and music reunited only in the sixteenth century, following a millennium of disengagement. In that, Haddar hopes to show that medieval music, long known to have been a mathematical art, is at the same time a language art that took part in a much broader system of knowledge.

Yoav Charpak-Amikam

Yoav Charpak-Amikam is a research student on a MD/PhD track at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Yoav’s focus is on the immune system’s fight against infectious fungi such as Candida – the most common cause of fungal infections, which often lives peacefully in our body without causing any harm, but can sometimes leads to serious disease and even death. How the immune system recognizes Candida and decides whether it is a friendly resident or a dangerous enemy is unclear. Using molecular biology, human samples, and mouse models, Yoav is working to identify the immune-cell molecules that recognize the fungus, the molecules they identify on the fungus, and the biological and medical significance of these interactions. Yoav hopes that his work will provide targets for new anti-fungal drugs or drugs that boost the immune response, and help in the war against this deadly infection. As a future physician-scientist, he hopes his research would help his future patients, while his clinical experience would direct his research toward the directions most relevant to them.

Shahar Dery

Shahar Dery is a PhD student in the Institute of Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on identifying catalytic processes on the surface of metallic nanoparticles. His experiments involve valuable metals for the chemical industry such as platinum, silver and gold. Shahar conducts measurements in particle accelerators using a technique that combines infrared radiation and atomic force microscopy in order to acquire molecular information with a spatial resolution of 20 nanometer. In doing so, more and less reactive locations on the surface of a single particle can be differentiated and mapped. Shahar hopes that the results will provide new insights into the mechanisms of catalytic reactions and on ways to optimize them. Future applications of the study could lead to a reduction in energy consumption and in the use of pollutants in the chemical industry.

Hagai Hillel Diamandi

Hilel Hagai Diamandi is a PhD student in the Faculty of Engineering at Bar-Ilan University. His research field is nonlinear optics. Hagai focuses on opto-mechanical interactions – the complex relationships between light and sound waves that coexist in a medium. He addresses the excitation of mechanical vibrations of structures by light waves propagating in them, and how, in turn, those vibrations affect the light. His research includes analysis of the various physical processes, numerical simulation and predictions, as well as experimental validations. The structures Hagai investigates include standard optical fibers, specialty fibers, and optical waveguides in silicon photonic devices. Through his research, Hagai seeks to create new opportunities for opto-mechanical devices, and design custom-made opto-mechanical platforms with new capabilities and improved performances for sensing applications, metrology systems, and information processing systems.

Michal Dvir

Michal Dvir is a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa. Her research is in the field of mathematics education, as part of a research team whose goal is developing young learners’ (ages 11-12) statistical reasoning, to better prepare the citizens of tomorrow for the challenges of the information age. Michal focuses on a key aspect of statistical reasoning: reasoning with models – visual (e.g. graphs) or abstract representations (e.g. linear relations between variables). While there has recently been a growing interest in the pedagogical potential of statistical modeling in the statistical research community, deeper understanding of its unique characteristics is still warranted to fully harvest its potential, particularly with regard to young learners who had not yet mastered relevant formal procedures. To this end, Michal examines informal alternatives devised by a class of sixth graders within an innovative learning environment, and hopes to suggest a comprehensive theoretical framework for their accompanying reasoning.

Lotem Elber-Dorozko

Lotem Elber-Dorozko is a PhD student in the field of computational neuroscience at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research addresses the neural activity and computational principles that underlie learning and decision-making. To this end, she analyzes the behavior and neural activity of animals in decision-making tasks and compares them to predictions of computation models. Specifically, her central finding, supported in multiple publications, is that neurons in a brain region called striatum encode the values of actions, which are likely the result of an erroneous interpretation of unrelated neural activity. Currently, she investigates the unique contexts in which models that typically yield optimal behavior result in seemingly irrational behaviors, such as superstitions. Her experiments also inform her ongoing research in the philosophy of science, where she examines the explanatory value of computational and causal models in the cognitive sciences.

Michal Erlich

Michal Erlich is a PhD student in the School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University. Her research deals with contemporary religious practices in India, and focuses on the Guru-led Hindu communities in the peripheries of Delhi. These communities of several hundred devotees belonging to the city’s geographical, economical and sociocultural margins are pervasive yet under-researched in the academic literature that tends to focus on the dominant culture of the middle and upper classes. These peripheral communities are a unique case study because of their hybrid nature. Community members, mostly internal migrants, carry different cultural backgrounds, castes and mother tongues and still they make up one community sharing the common hardships of the lower classes. Based upon a two-year in-depth ethnographic fieldwork within two such communities, Michal aims to analyze the relationships between the devotees’ membership in a guru-community and their pursuit to improve their lives and achieve earthly and religious-spiritual wellbeing.

Michal Friedman

Michal Friedman is a PhD student of Computer Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on designing concurrent algorithms that help recover from system crashes. In upcoming computer memory technology, the main memory will be non-volatile, meaning that documents and programs that were open and running before a power failure would be automatically saved, without any data loss. However, a small part of the computer’s memory, known as the cache, will remain vulnerable. This introduces a new challenge in managing data in a way that allows complete recovery from a crash. Neglecting the cache entirely is not an option, since doing so would damage performance tremendously. Michal’s research thus aims to design innovative and fast storing algorithms and help coders make the best use of these new memories, without changing the way they are used to think about computer architectures, and without dealing with those challenges while they code.

Shilat Haim-Nachum

Shilat Nachum is a PhD student in the School of Education at Bar-Ilan University. Her research seeks to understand the puzzling and inconsistent link between the duration of traumatic exposure and PTSD symptoms, while searching for possible moderators of that relationship. Specifically, she explores the moderating role of both cognitive and emotional flexibility in the relationship. For this purpose, she engages in research among firefighters, a population that is repeatedly exposed to traumatic events, using computerized tasks, self-report measures and clinical interviews designed to assess the intensity of the symptoms they develop with relation to their flexibility. Her study may shed light on the mechanisms that contribute to the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms; it may also have therapeutic implications, where the improvement of cognitive and emotional flexibility in the course of an intervention program developed by Shilat may buffer the deleterious consequences of traumatic events.

Leore Heim

Leore Heim is an MD/PhD student in the field of neuroscience at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine. Leore aims to understand how one’s location with respect to the environment is represented within the nervous system. By developing and implementing cutting-edge technology (e.g. implantable µLEDs), Leore is able to record and manipulate electrical impulses within the brains of freely moving mice – on the micro level. This unique approach provides the opportunity to link the animal’s neurobiology (e.g. the temporal dynamics of cellular activity) with a high-level behavioral function (e.g. spatial navigation). The research seeks to reveal the mechanisms underlying neuronal codes based on rate, time, and phase, and advance our understanding of the general principles that govern information encoding and communication within the mammalian nervous system.

Alon Israeli

Alon Israeli is a PhD student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Agriculture. His research is in the field of plant developmental biology. A unique feature of plants is their ability to generate organs such as leaves and flowers throughout the lifecycle, and to adjust the type, size and shape of these organs to changing environmental conditions. Alon investigates the genetic basis of this developmental flexibility, focusing on leaf and flower development in tomato. He uses genetic engineering tools to discover the genes and hormones that control growth and enable this flexibility while maintaining stability and resilience. The research aims to shed light on the genetic basis for the variability of plant organs.

Jonathan Jeffet

Jonathan Jeffet is a PhD student in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University. His research deals with developing optical methods for single-molecule genomics. Jonathan wishes to enable simultaneous mapping of genetic (DNA sequence), and epigenetic (various chemical and structural DNA modifications that do not alter the sequence) information. The impact of these genetic and epigenetic features on cell activity and human diseases is at the heart of biological research and personalized medicine. Through a combination of nano-fabrication to trap and stretch single DNA molecules, and the construction of a novel fluorescence microscopy scheme, Jonathan hopes to simultaneously visualize and analyze all the information encoded on the human genome. Using this method, he aims to establish a complete and comprehensive view of the genomic characteristics of individual chromosomes, thus opening new avenues for basic genomic research and affordable personalized clinical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.

Marryan Majerowitz

Merryan Majerowitz is a master’s student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her research examines replication of residential environments in neoliberal Israel, in which housing is primarily a commodity in a market economy. In the current era, the discourse on housing has mainly real estate and socioeconomic aspect, with the architectural dimension left out and therefore not part of the nationwide effort to find solutions to the housing crisis. In her research, Merryan seeks to discuss precisely this dimension, which focuses on the quality of the housing unit and its packaging as part of all the components making for quality residential neighborhoods. The research will ask in-depth questions regarding architectural ethics, and illuminate and analyze the planning and design processes currently taking place in Israel. Through her research Merryan hopes to contribute to the development of theoretical as well as practical knowledge, for planning housing for the public and enriching the public debate together with an effective change in planning systems.

Roy Marom

Roy Marom is a PhD candidate in the Department of Israel Studies at the University of Haifa. His research concerns the social history of rural Palestine during the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods. In his doctoral dissertation, Roy addresses the question of the renewed Arab settlement in the Sharon (the central section of the Coastal Plain) and in Western Samaria between the years 1700-1948. Following two centuries of demographic decline, in the eighteenth century, these regions experienced (as did the rest of the Levant) a prolonged period of settlement expansion, involving multiple population movements from diverse origins, village formation and abandonment. Roy’s work bridges the gap between existing scholarship in the fields of ethnography, historical geography and sociopolitical history. By using a wide range of hitherto unpublished local oral and written sources in Arabic and Turkish, Roy hopes to provide new insights into the precise causes of these transformations, which have so far eluded satisfactory explanations.

Orit Nafcha

Orit Nafcha is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa. Her research focuses on the influence social context has on our perception and attention and the evolutionary origin of these interactions. Specifically, Orit studies the social inhibition of return (SIOR) effect, which is our tendency to inhibit responses toward locations previously attended by others. This phenomenon represents an automatic evolutionary process, designed to optimize visual search of the environment when working with others. Orit studies the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying this effect and explores whether and how several social aspects (e.g., group affiliation, type of social relationship) modulate it. Moreover, she explores the evolutionary origin of SIOR by studying a basic phylogenetic model, the Archerfish. The Archerfish serve as a useful model thanks to their natural ability to shoot down insects, and their ability to respond, in a laboratory setting, to targets presented on a computer screen. Orit hopes that this study will further expand our knowledge on the effect that social context has on cognitive processes that are usually explored in individual (non-social) settings.

Tom Shaked

Tom Shaked is a PhD student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His research extends existing knowledge in digital manufacturing, seeking to integrate sensory data and manual capabilities into architectural production using industrial robots as a platform. Additionally, he explores historical craft techniques and adapts them to better suit the current requirements of the architectural industry. By doing so, Tom examines the status of the architectural artefact when it is transferred onto the machine, examining the nature of architectural operations and tools in the age of robotics. By developing computational tools for integrating sensory data and manual capabilities into architectural production, Tom hopes to bridge the gap between the machine and the human hand.

Keren Shoham

Keren Shoham is an architect and graduate student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her research is in the field of design thinking, focusing on reflection in architecture pedagogy. Reflection is a term defined by philosopher and educator John Dewey as a unique way of thinking: active, constantly changing and considering the unknown. While reflection and its philosophical and pedagogical definitions are well established, its architectural applications have yet to be studied. Keren’s research integrates three disciplines: philosophy, architecture, and pedagogy, in order to define, identify and characterize reflection in architecture and in architectural pedagogy in particular. By doing so, Keren seeks to better understand the integration of guided reflection as a tool in the teaching of architecture and its adaptation to changes in the academic world as a result of the information revolution.

Gal Sofer

Gal Sofer is a MD/PhD student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Alongside his MD studies at the university’s School of Medicine, Gal’s PhD research at the Department of Jewish Thought addresses late medieval and early modern Jewish magic, specifically practices of summoning and binding demons, so the magician would force them to do his bidding. Through examination of manuscripts and Genizah fragments in Hebrew, Aramaic, Italian, Latin and Greek, Gal seeks to trace the paths of knowledge transmission of cross-cultural demonic magical practices. He examines spells, incantations and magical formulas in order to track their origins. In this way, he seeks to describe the reception of Jewish magic in the Latin West, and the contribution of Jewish literature to works on magical practices that were very popular in the period under study, practices that are still used today.

Aviv Steren

Aviv Stern is a PhD student in the Faculty of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Her research deals with energy policy and consumer behavior, focusing on energetic efficiency and its effect on consumers. Looking at the transportation sector, Aviv examines how policies to promote efficiency affect drivers’ car choice as well as car use. She uses national-scale records of government agencies to study the connection between vehicle characteristics and driving behavior. By connecting purely technical car characteristics to drivers’ behavior, Aviv hopes to shed light on the conflict between two crucial policy areas, namely energy efficiency and road safety, and to equip policymakers with a deep understanding regarding the relationship between energy-efficient cars, car use, and driving behavior.

Mirjam Streng

Mirjam Streng is a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Law. Her fields of interest include refugee and asylum law, immigration, international human rights law, public international law and political theory. Mirjam examines the extent to which host states have normative and international legal obligations to guarantee asylum seekers’ access to education, integration into the general education system, school and curriculum choice. Building upon political theory and philosophy of education, she analyzes normative grounds for inclusion and exclusion of asylum seekers in education. She examines current legal norms guaranteeing asylum seekers’ right to education under international human rights law and refugee law. The research clarifies current state obligations under international law and suggests grounds and ways for rethinking state obligations that guarantee asylum seekers’ right to education and their socio-economic rights more generally.

Ella Tovia

Ella Tovia is a PhD student in the Department of Talmud and Jewish Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ella focuses on units with parallel structures in the Babylonian Talmud. These textual units share a dialectical structure that is mostly identical, but differ in some of their specific contents. Some of them are found in a single textual sequence while others are located separately. Their parallelism is evident on the one hand in the content and phrasing of the recurring elements, and on the other hand in the logical role of the changing elements. Ella’s research is based on a comprehensive study of all the relevant textual units – every unit by itself, and compared to other units with a shared dialectical structure. By examining this phenomenon, Ella hopes to shed light on one of the aspects of the Babylonian Talmud that has yet to be studied as such and to promote the discussion of its redaction processes, and perhaps even the learning, transmission and literary creation methods of the Amoraim (Talmudic sages).

Vanessa Workman

Vanessa Workman is a PhD student of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. Her research centers on humanity’s exploration of new materials and objects through technologies in ancient crafts and production. Vanessa investigates technological and sociocultural aspects of early iron production in the southern Levant, the way in which new metalworking practices manifested within the various societies that existed in the region in the 10-9th centuries BCE. This is accomplished through the examination of artifacts, byproducts and production debris found within excavations of ancient metal workshops. Using macro- and micro-archaeological approaches, she explores the modes in which cultures adopted new and complex metal technologies affected by factors such as cultural traditions, environmental conditions, and trade relations.

Ayelet Zalic

Ayelet Zalic is a PhD student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the field of experimental solid-state physics. She studies two-dimensional materials – crystals that can be cleaved as thin as a single atomic layer. Thin crystal layers have unique properties compared to the bulk crystal. Moreover, layers of different thin crystals that are mechanically stacked may interact on an atomic level, creating new properties at their interface. Ayelet attempts to construct and study electronic devices which incorporate thin layers of superconducting materials, hoping to further our basic understanding of superconductivity. She is also interested in engineering the behavior of electronic devices by controlling the angle between different layers. Discoveries in this field can contribute to the understanding of fundamental questions in quantum physics, and may find eventual application in electronics and quantum computing.

2017-2018 Azrieli Fellows

Eliran Arazi

Eliran Arazi is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Eliran is carrying out prolonged fieldwork among the indigenous Cabiyari of the Colombian Amazon. His research focuses on the relation between social evaluation and relations of power and hierarchy among group members, whose systems of beliefs, values, customs and modes of actions attest to a unique configuration of the distinction between nature and culture, which is markedly different from ours. Eliran uses the participant observation approach, whereby he learns the Cabiyari language and takes part in everyday activities, ceremonies, leisure activities and political gatherings. In addition, he interviews group members and documents their rich mythology. Beyond his contribution to regional, political and moral ethnography, Eliran wishes to pave the way to a comparative study of the conceptions of honor in societies with different conceptualizations of the nature-culture divide.

Guy Austern

Guy Austern is a PhD student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His research concerns the rationalization of architectural geometry, seeking ways to evaluate and improve concrete elements and better suit them to fabrication constraints of their molds. By bridging between computer science and architecture, he proposes computational tools for the analysis and optimization of architectural geometry, adapting it to digital fabrication processes such as CNC milling, hot-wire cutting, and printing. Additionally, he seeks new mold fabrication techniques that will be better suited to the requirements of the architectural industry. By introducing fabrication awareness into the design process at an early stage, Guy hopes to adapt architectural design to the expanding world of digital fabrication.

Ran Eitan Abutbul

Ran Eitan Abutbul is a PhD student in the Department of Materials Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research is devoted to the properties of nanomaterials that belong to the semiconductor family (such as silicone) and particularly to the study of a new family of materials which were recently discovered in his lab. His research is designed to develop techniques for preparing these new materials and specifying their properties. Ran uses advanced microscopy and crystallography in order to study the crystalline structure and morphology of these materials at nanoscale. Through these studies, he aims to identify materials that could contribute to effective use of renewable energy.

Idit Ben Or

Idit Ben Or is a PhD student in History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the “Materials of Change” research group at the Mandel Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies. Her research focuses on money in early modern England, a time when much economic activity was locally based and daily economic life was dependent on money that was coined and printed by local actors, in addition to monarchal coinage. Idit’s research examines how the government and the public viewed local money, its authority, value, usages, as well as its sociocultural meanings. She combines economic theory and practice, history of daily life and material culture, to evoke questions on the connection between money, an object found in every pocket, and broader sociocultural and economic concerns.

Yonatan Chemla

Yonatan Chemla is a PhD student in synthetic biology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His research focuses on the molecular biology of bacteria, and particularly the genetic code that governs protein synthesis and regulation of several model bacteria. Yonatan aims to understand how the context of the “words” and “sentences” encoded in DNA language affects their meanings. Namely, how the same word can have distinct cellular functions in different genomic contexts. His research seeks to solve open questions of the bacterial genetic language and thereby contribute to the body of knowledge about them as well as develop novel tools aimed at improving protein production and engineering, which are essential to the biotechnological and pharma industries.

Adi Doron

Adi Doron is a PhD student at the ELSC Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew  University of Jerusalem. Her research addresses the way complex representations of the environment are encoded in the brain. She investigates how non-spatial internal factors, such as goals and rewards with different values, are combined with external environmental features to create a mental representation of the self in space.  Adi studies differences in brain activity that result from various expectations regarding a given environment. To this end, she uses advanced imaging techniques in combination with a virtual reality system, which enable the study of different types of brain cells during goal-directed behavior.

Ifat Gavish

Ifat Gavish is a PhD student in the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Education. She studies the prosocial behavior of adolescents and adults, investigating mechanisms that may explain value-behavior relations and value-change-behavior relations and the role cognitive components play. Ifat proposes an integrative empirical framework for examining how attention and interpretation influence the connection between values and prosocial behavior, following intervention. Her vision is to lay the ground for comprehensive educational intervention, which would promote self-transcendence values, individual well-being, and a healthier society.

Yuval Givon

Yuval Givon is a PhD student in the School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University. His research addresses the early modern dialogue between China and Europe, and particularly the circulation of knowledge between the two civilizations during the Ming-Qing dynastic transition in the mid-17th century. Though generally seen mainly as a local Chinese event, Yuval highlights this transition as an episode in global history, particularly in terms of its role in shaping new categories of knowledge and opening new channels of communication between China and Europe. At the heart of the study lies the Jesuit China Mission, which operated at the time as an almost exclusive communication channel between China and Europe. By analyzing Jesuit sources in Chinese and European languages, Yuval sheds light on the circulation of cross-cultural knowledge in what is sometimes called the First Global Era.

Idan Haritan

Idan is a PhD student in the Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In his chemical-theoretical research, Idan studies the interaction of light and matter. Idan hopes to implement his theoretical findings in biology to investigate light-driven biological reactions. Idan aims to analyze these reactions, while taking into account the presence of light throughout the reaction. This analysis will represent a breakthrough compared to current analyses, where light is considered a mere initiator, and the reactions are perceived as a sequence of events occurring without its presence. In that, Idan hopes to explain quantum effects that are not yet fully understood in biology, particularly those related to photosynthesis and light vision.

Omer Karin

Omer Karin is a PhD student Azrieli Institute for Systems Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Omer studies design principles of cellular tissue communication circuits. His research seeks to uncover the logic behind the decisions cells make, and why this decision-making fails in disease. To do so, he uses computational and mathematical models based on stochastic system theory, population genetics, and control theory, and collaborates with experimentalists to test the predictions of these models. Omer’s projects aim to create a quantitative framework that will help understand cellular functional processes in health and disease.

Ohad Kohn

Ohad Kohn is a PhD student at Tel Aviv University’s School of Cultural Studies. He specializes in German and Yiddish literature in their inter-lingual and intercultural junctures. Ohad’s research focuses on the poetic language of Paul Celan (1920-1970), one of the greatest German poets in the second half of the 20th century. He seeks to resolve the two fundamental issues in Celan’s reception, one informed by the other; his extraordinary German language on the one hand and his elusive yet ubiquitous Jewishness on the other. The study uncovers the Jewish affinities and registers encoded into Celan’s unique poetic language in light of the poet’s ironic use of the originally antisemitic term Judaization (Verjudung) of literature. By closely reading Celan’s extraordinary poetic language structures in the context of Jewish linguistic and literary traditions, Ohad offers a novel framework for understanding the role of Jewishness in European literary modernism after the Holocaust.

Shachar Livne

Shachar Livne is a PhD student in the Department of General and Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her primary research interest lies in the interrelations between Italian and English literatures in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, with particular emphasis on the poetry of the 14th-century canonical poets: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Chaucer. Her comparative study closely examines four poems, each depicting a dream-vision that the poet had prior to writing. Through close analyses of these poetical works, Shachar documents a critical moment in the history of a poetical genre that was widespread across medieval and renaissance Europe and illustrates the crucial impact Italian poetry had on English poetry that developed thereafter. Such an investigation promotes the comparative study of Italian and English literatures, as well as the study of the medieval dream-vision genre.

Towibah Majdoob

Towibah Majdoob is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. Her research investigates late singlehood as experienced and interpreted by single men and women in Palestinian society in Israel. This phenomenon has been previously addressed in sociological literature mainly through the perspective of hegemonic Western society and dominant, gendered worldviews. Towibah’s research, in contrast, explores it through the intersections of socio-political, gender-based, ethnic, national and geographic positions. Based on more than forty interviews with women and men, her study demonstrates that singlehood is not a uniform social category, but rather a diverse one that varies with the interrelations between these positions. Towibah’s research enriches the literature that has yet to analyze this phenomenon in Palestinian society in Israel.

Lihi Matza

Lihi Matza is a Master’s student in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her research examines urban planning and spatial development practices in Israel in the neoliberal era, as reflected in the regeneration of former urban industrial areas. Such regeneration projects represent a growing phenomenon in Israel during the last three decades. Despite this growing popularity, however, there is almost no literature on its local manifestations. Using analysis of regeneration projects from around the world and of three local case studies, Lihi aims to characterize the various planning and development approaches to the regeneration of these areas, their positive and negative implications, and the planning culture that informs them. In so doing, she seeks to contribute to the formulation of a multi-dimensional and comprehensive planning policy regarding the regeneration of these areas in Israel.

Dan Mikulincer

Dan Mikulincer is a PhD student of Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His research involves probability and high-dimensional geometry, which is central to modern statistics. Dan examines concentration-of-measure phenomena and their interrelations with dimension, particularly the central limit theorem – a universal phenomenon according to which so long as a large enough sample is taken from a certain population, its average would have identical properties, independently of the sampling population. Dan quantifies the dependency of the theorem on the dimension or number of parameters of the sample using stochastic calculus tools, which have gained prominence in financial mathematics. By using these novel methods , Dan hopes to create new statistical tools applicable to our modern environment, and to shed new light on existing statistical tools when applied in high dimensions. These insights can find their application in a myriad of other fields by introducing new approximation and sampling algorithms.

Nadav Outmezguine

Nadav is a PhD student at the Tel-Aviv University School of Physics, and is currently a visiting graduate student at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His research is in theoretical high-energy physics, the field of physics that depicts the fundamental ingredients of the universe, the way they interact, and the forces operating on them. The vast majority of observed natural phenomena are very well explained by physical theories. Nevertheless, some discrepancies between them and the findings of various experiments have motivated theories and models whose validation requires experiments of greater precision. While significant effort is invested in testing these models in controlled experiments using detectors and particle accelerators, Nadav’s research takes an alternative approach, asking what these models would imply for our picture of the universe, galaxies and stars and how these implications could be revealed through astrophysical observation.

Noa Rom

Noa Rom is a PhD student at the Hebrew University School of Education. She researches educational policy issues affecting the school system. Her dissertation uses social network theory to examine the implementation of the recent information and communications technology (ICT) reform in Israel’s elementary schools. Noa is interested in how teachers view and implement technology in the classroom, and how their social and professional interactions and exchanges impact their sense of “ownership” of the reform. By focusing on teacher networks, Noa seeks to uncover the social mechanisms that motivate school improvement processes related to teachers’ engagement and learning. Her study advances research on the scaling up of educational reform and promotes a scholarly discourse about the potential of teachers to lead successful change efforts in Israeli and other school systems.

Yair Segev

Yair is a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. In his research, Yair studies chemical and physical phenomena unique to extremely low temperatures. Contrary to the physics that we experience daily, at temperatures close to absolute zero the interactions between particles of matter are dominated by quantum mechanics, and atoms start behaving as waves. Yair uses experimental and computational tools borrowed from aerospace engineering to research and develop a novel cooling technique that would bring molecules to these temperatures. Using this method, he aims to observe the coldest chemical reactions ever identified on the molecular level, and even hopes to create new states of matter, very different from those familiar to us today.

Haran Sened

Haran Sened is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at Bar Ilan University. He develops methods to help romantic partners understand each other’s thoughts and feelings. Working with couples in one-time meetings in the lab and in short daily training programs at home over several weeks, he examines methods such as providing mutual feedback and increasing motivation for emotional understanding. Haran investigates how improved emotional understanding contributes to the quality of the relationship and the partners’ satisfaction with it. His research will contribute to the development of new tools for studying emotional understanding among couples, which will have practical potential in couples counselling.

Ohad Sorek

Ohad Sorek is an architect, a Master’s student at Tel Aviv University’s Azrieli School of Architecture, and a lecturer at Bezalel Academy. Ohad’s research examines “Hebraic architecture” – a term he has coined to propose a new branch in architectural theory. In order to understand the scope and unique characteristics of this proposed “paper architecture”, Ohad reads Jewish traditional texts, attempting to extrapolate paradigms and develop original stances in relation to contemporary architectural discourse. Ohad relies on autonomist and occasionally utopist Jewish legal texts (“halacha”) and rabbinical interpretation and lore (“aggadah”), as opposed to historical or archaeological sources, adapting them to conventional architectural medium and discourse, in order to lay down guidelines for further research in this field.

Karen Yirmiya

Karen Yirmiya is a PhD student in the Psychology Department at Bar-Ilan University. Her study focuses on identifying resiliency and vulnerability factors related to the development of  psychopathology among children exposed to ongoing terrorism threats. Karen examines the effects of environmental and biological factors on the mental condition of children living near the Gaza Strip, compared to children living elsewhere in Israel. The children were monitored for more than a decade, from infancy to adolescence, with the aim of elucidating the contribution of parent-child relationships, as well as hormones related to stress (cortisol) and affiliation (oxytocin), to the development of psychopathology given prolonged exposure to trauma. Karen’s study is unique in its longitudinal follow-up of children exposed to the same trauma through various developmental stages in their lives, combining biological, neurological, psychological, and psychiatric approaches. Through her research, she hopes to improve the understanding and early identification risk factors associated with subsequent trauma-related psychopathology.

Tom Zahavy

Tom Zahavy is a PhD student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His research focuses on developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that learn to make decisions, particularly through reinforcements. To do so, Tom uses artificial neural networks (ANNs) – computational models that are used, for example,  in Google Translate and Facebook’s face recognition algorithm. ANNs are large and complex models; researchers know how to train them but lack the tools to understand how they work, thus they are considered as “black boxes”. To address this problem, Tom has developed tools to visualize and analyze the AI brain, allowing researchers to see the world through AI “eyes” and helping humans understand how AI “thinks”.

Dr. Genevieve Allaire-Duquette

Dr. Genevieve Allaire-Duquette completed her PhD studies at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and is currently pursuing her postdoctoral research at Tel Aviv University’s School of Education. Her work focuses on understanding mechanisms of reasoning in science and mathematics using cognitive neuroscience methods. More specifically, she is interested in the mechanisms underlying the ability to overcome intuitive interference to formal/logical reasoning. To do so, she uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how various educational interventions alter brain activity. She will examine changes in brain activation patterns following different types of educational interventions in quantitative reasoning. Working at the frontiers between neuroscience, psychology and education, Dr. Allaire-Duquette hopes to identify brain patterns specific to the various types of interventions, which could enable educators to make informed decisions about the nature and the intensity of the their use of interventions, tasks and examples in various educational settings.

Dr. Adam Dor-On

Dr. Adam Dor-On completed his PhD in pure mathematics at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His research deals with non-commutative analysis, where functional analysis and operator theory are used to solve problems motivated by applications in quantum information theory, dynamical systems and the mathematical foundation of quantum mechanics. Dr. Dor-On’s research reveals new connections with classical mathematical theories, and uses tools from geometry, probability, graph theory, dynamics and group theory. It is designed to develop new perspectives in order to solve various problems in these fields, and in order to unify, simplify and expand existing theories to develop novel approaches to tackling unyielding problems.

Dr. Trevor Janes

Dr. Trevor Janes has completed his PhD in inorganic chemistry at the University of Toronto, where he studied actor ligand-metal complexes and their reactivity towards CO2. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Organic Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Dr. Janes’ research focuses on the design and synthesis of organometallic catalysts for the discovery and development of new and more efficient methods for producing organic compounds. To this end, metal-ligand cooperation (MLC) has been a particularly powerful tool in reactions that either split or form hydrogen gas. Dr. Janes’ goal is to manipulate hydrogen using MLC-inspired catalysts that are simpler, cheaper, and less toxic than those currently in use. If achieved, greater understanding of the applied features of MLC-type reactivity will be gained, and beneficial economic and environmental effects are foreseeable.

Dr. Deni Kasa

Dr. Deni Kasa completed his PhD at the University of Toronto and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Department of English and American Studies. His research explores the religious origins of modernity. His new book project, The Anti-Trinitarian Origins of Liberalism, argues that the forerunners of liberalism—especially John Milton, Hugo Grotius, and John Locke—imagined freedom of worship and freedom of speech by drawing from anti-Trinitarianism, a 17th-century Christian heresy. Based on medieval Jewish scholarship, the anti-Trinitarians saw Jesus as a human teacher rather than the Son of God; Milton, Grotius, and Locke used this argument to promote interfaith tolerance. The project aims to prove that while today liberalism facilitates interfaith dialogue, historically it was the interfaith dialogue between Jews and Christians that produced liberalism.

Dr. Loewenberg Weisband

Dr. Loewenberg Weisband completed her PhD in the field of epidemiology at Ohio State University and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the National Program for Quality Indicators in Community Healthcare (QICH) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She specializes in maternal and child health, specifically labor and delivery outcomes. Utilizing national data from Israel’s four health funds, she is developing new healthcare quality indicators in the field of reproductive health. The data provided by these indicators will enable policymakers to identify groups at risk for negative delivery results in order to promote their health and better target the healthcare of pregnant women.

Dr. Devin Trudeau

Dr. Devin Trudeau is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science. His work aims to improve photosynthesis and carbon fixation in plants by creating more energetically efficient synthetic metabolic pathways. He uses protein engineering to create new enzymes that catalyze these reactions at high rates. His work is an important step to understanding the limitations of natural plant metabolism, and how it may be engineered to make more sustainable and productive agriculture.

Dr. Amir Bashan

Dr. Amir Bashan is a new faculty member at the Physics Department of Bar-Ilan University, returning to Israel from a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on developing and applying novel computational methods from statistical physics and network theory to understand various high-dimensional biological systems. In particular, Dr. Bashan studies human associated microbial communities which play important roles in health and diseases, alongside cellular activity such as gene expression in single cells. These complex and dynamical systems are governed by underlying networks of ecological interactions, such as in the case of microbial communities, or regulatory interactions between genes. Dr. Bashan’s research will contribute to a better understanding of these systems, which is key in developing diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Dr. Yonit Hochberg

Dr. Yonit Hochberg is a new faculty member at the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, having completed postdoctoral studies at Berkeley and Cornell. As a theoretical high-energy physicist, she addresses fundamental questions left unanswered by the Standard Model of particle physics, such as: What is dark matter? What happened to all the antimatter? And why is the weak force so much stronger than gravity? These are several of many indications that there must be new physics beyond the Standard Model. Dr. Hochberg’s research focuses on the phenomenology of new particles and interactions, with emphasis on dark matter. She studies new ideas in the exploration of dark matter, proposing new theories as well as novel experiments to detect dark particles on Earth in order to identify the fundamental constituents of Nature.

Dr. Ido Kaminer

Dr. Ido Kaminer is a new faculty member at the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering, returning from a postdoc at MIT. He studies the fundamentals of light-matter interactions with novel nanophotonics and emerging materials, developing new concepts for light sources in spectral ranges inaccessible by existing technology. Chief among these spectral ranges are the terahertz, extreme-ultraviolet, and x-ray, where new light sources can unlock possibilities for biomedical and medical imaging, for industrial quality control, and for advances in fundamental sciences. In his research, Dr. Kaminer applies elegant mathematical and algorithmic tools to solve major problems in science and technology and attempts to tackle open questions in physics and mathematics. He applies state-of-the-art experimental techniques to probe exciting phenomena in new materials with ultrafast electrons and photons. Dr. Kaminer hopes to make significant contributions to the fundamentals of electrodynamics and quantum physics, and to apply them in developing future technologies.

Dr. Yonatan Moss

Dr. Moss is a newly hired senior lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Department of Comparative Religion. He obtained his PhD in religious studies at Yale, focusing on the history of ancient Christianity, and subsequently held a postdoctoral position at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Moss currently works on a range of issues in Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the first millennium, with a focus on the intersections between theology and politics. His current project brings a wealth of unpublished Syriac (Christian Aramaic) works by ninth-century Iraqi bishops to bear on the redesign of the contemporary Judeo-Arabic culture. Dr. Moss explores how Jewish intellectuals such as Egyptian-Iraqi luminary Saadia Gaon drew on Christian sources in their reshaping of Judaism in light of Hellenistic categories.

Dr. Meital Oren-Suissa

Dr. Meital Oren-Suissa is a new faculty member at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Department of Neurobiology, having returned from a postdoctoral position at Columbia University. She studies how sexually dimorphic patterns (differences between the sexes of the same species) emerge, from synapse formation to animal behavior. Dr. Oren-Suissa’s lab uniquely addresses these questions by using the powerful genetic toolbox of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as an in vivo model system. Her research group uses cutting-edge techniques in synapse labeling, neuronal imaging, high-resolution live-imaging microscopy, optogenetics and behavior analysis. The potential clinical implications for research on the influence of sex in the nervous system are immense, as many of the genes associated with common neurological diseases display sexual dimorphism in disease development, pathological processes and recovery mechanisms.

Dr. Graham de Ruiter

Dr. Graham de Ruiter completed his M.Sc studies at Leiden University. In 2008, he moved to the Weizmann Institute Science to pursue his PhD studies on sequence- dependent assembly strategies and molecular logic. Subsequently, he completed postdoctoral studies at Caltech, working on the synthesis of multi-metallic complexes for small molecule activation and oxygen atom transfer reactions. Upon returning to Israel in 2017, he was appointed to a faculty position at the Technion’s Faculty of Chemistry. His research focuses on using inorganic materials to address fundamental challenges related to solar energy conversion and small-molecule activation in order to provide clean and cost-effective methods for maintaining a sustainable energy landscape.

Dr. Shlomi Reuveni

Dr. Shlomi Reuveni is a new faculty member at the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University. With PhDs from both the School of Chemistry and the School of Mathematical Sciences at TAU,  he then completed postdoctoral research at Harvard’s Department of Systems Biology. Dr. Reuveni is broadly interested in complex systems and has specialized in the study of systems governed by random events and statistical laws. His group conducts basic theoretical research that crosses conventional disciplinary boundaries between physics, chemistry, biology, probability and statistics; to mathematically describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena and study systems in various fields of physical chemistry and statistical and biological physics. This interdisciplinary approach has already proven useful in unravelling and explaining key features of proteins and ribosomes based on mathematical and physical principles. Demonstrating that similar principles are applicable to all living systems is a longstanding aim of Dr. Reuveni and his research group.

Dr. Anat Perry

Dr. Anat Perry is a new faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in the Department of Psychology, returning to Israel from a postdoctoral position at Berkeley. She studies social phenomena in terms of interactions between their social, cognitive, and neural aspects. Her research involves applying behavioral, electrophysiological, pharmacological, and neuroimaging research techniques to both healthy and clinical populations. Three pressing questions motivate Dr. Perry’s research: What are the behavioral and brain mechanisms that underlie social psychological phenomena? To what extent do the social and non-social cognitive processes involved in these phenomena overlap? How can understanding these processes help treat deficits in social cognition such as autism or psychopathy? A better understanding of the behavioral and neural mechanisms enabling empathy and the accurate recognition of the affective states of others will contribute to creating better interventions for understanding others, for accepting others in the community and for improved adjustments to social change.

2016-2017 Azrieli Fellows

Avishai Abbo

Avishai is a PhD student in Geology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Avishai specializes in tectonics and processes that form continental crust, and in dating single mineral grains (such as zircon and rutile) that constrain the formation time of the crustal rocks, as well as isotopic measurements that show their source and evolution. His research deals with the evolution of continental crust in Israel, Turkey and South-East Europe, and the processes that led to its formation and its history over the past 500 million years. Avishai’s work combines both classic field geology – that includes studying the rocks in the field and sampling, together with advanced analytical methods (especially laser based techniques) in an effort to probe the chemistry, age and isotopic signatures of rocks and minerals that can constrain the timing of tectonic events. Avishai hopes to make a significant contribution to the study of continental geodynamics in our region, and to our understanding of these processes on a global scale.

Alon Appleboim

Alon is a graduate student in the computational biology and computer science program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His Research involves the development and application of high throughput methods in molecular and computational biology in order to characterize cellular regulatory circuits. The main research question Alon is focusing on is how do cells, carrying identical genetic information, express different genes as the result of their exposure to different environments. To this end, Alon develops novel molecular techniques, computational models, and statistical machine learning algorithms to extract insights from high-throughput experiments aimed at cellular decision-making. Alon believes that understanding these regulatory mechanisms will allow us to better diagnose, treat, and even prevent the onset of diseases that are the result of genetic mis-regulation, as in the case of cancer.

Saar Alon Barkat

Saar is a Ph.D. student in public administration at the Hebrew University’s Political Science Department. His research focuses on government organizations’ communications with citizens and their effect on citizens’ attitudes towards these organizations. More specifically, Saar’s study focuses on the symbolic aspects of these communications, which are prominent in the use of branding and marketing tools (e.g. the use of logos, images, celebrity endorsements and the like). Saar wishes to enhance our understanding of the complex relations between governments and citizens in the present era, and its implications for democracy.

Ella Assaf Shpayer

Ella is a PhD student in the field of Prehistoric Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. Her research investigates aspects of knowledge transmission and learning processes relating to stone tools production (which were essential for the survival of mankind in ancient societies) and their identification in the archaeological record (starting from half a million years ago). In the prehistoric past, much like today, learning processes were probably very significant in children’s lives. However, we know very little about this issue. Ella’s research aims to provide a broader perspective on learning processes among prehistoric human societies and to deepen our understanding regarding the cognitive abilities of our ancestors, hoping to shed light on our understanding of the origins of our modern way of life and modern learning processes.

Rona Aviram

Rona is a PhD student in the Weizmann institute of Science, in the Biomolecular Sciences department. In her studies, she tries to elucidate a biological function we all share: timekeeping. Far from being a simplistic watch, mammals have elaborate clock mechanisms that allow us to be our own timekeepers. Constantly ticking from the cellular level to the organism level, our biological clocks serve as a great system to test the size and limits of physiological processes. Advancing our knowledge of these issues is key for improvement of life quality and longevity.

Miriam Babichenko

Miriam is a PhD student in the School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on teachers’ professional discourse in weekly team meetings, assuming that this context may provide them with meaningful opportunities to think, reflect and inquire into their practice. More specifically, Miriam focuses on the way that video-recordings of classroom interaction are employed as resources for such collaborative inquiry. Miriam wishes to characterize interactional norms that may hinder learning in the context of video-discussion; and describes ways in which these challenges may be overcome. Additionally, Miriam develops an assessment tool to reliably capture the main features of productive teacher discourse in school team meetings, a tool that will form the basis for descriptive and comparative research into teachers’ professional discourse in scale.

Dr. Tsevi Beatus

Dr. Beatus is a new faculty member at the Hebrew University in Bio-Engineering Center, with appointments in the School of Computer Science and Engineering and the Institute of Life Sciences.  Tsevi returned to Israel from a postdoc at the Physics Department of Cornell University. His research lies at the interface between Physics, Engineering, and Biology, and focuses on understanding the mechanisms of flight control in tiny insects, such as fruit flies. Tsevi uses a unique method to “trip” flies in mid-air, with fast cameras that film how the flies recover from these stumbles. He found that flies employ cutting-edge concepts from control theory, such as nonlinear, robust, and hierarchical control, and their control reflex is among the fastest in the animal kingdom. Inspired by the elegant control solutions insects have evolved, Tsevi aims to understand the mechanism of flight control in the framework of control theory. His research is expected to have impact also in neuroscience, fluid mechanics, and the development of insect-like flying robots.

Learn more about Tsevi’s work:


P. S. Shamble, R. R. Hoy, I. Cohen and T. BeatusWalking like an ant: a quantitative and experimental approach to understanding locomotor mimicry in the jumping spider Myrmarachne formicaria Proceedings of the Royal Society B  284, 20170308 (2017), open access News coverage of this work includes pieces in Science Magazine, The NewScientist and Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences website

P. S. Shamble*, G. Menda*, J. R. Golden, E. I. Nitzani, K. Walden, T. Beatus, D. O. Elias, I. Cohen, R. N.  Miles, and R. R. Hoy, Airborne Acoustic Perception by a Jumping Spider Current Biology, 26, 21, pp2913-3920 (2016) (* Equal contributors)

S. C. Whitehead*, T. Beatus*, L. Canale, and I. Cohen, Pitch Perfect: How Fruit Flies Control their Body Pitch Angle The Journal of Experimental Biology, 122622 (2015), (* Equal contributors)

T. Beatus and I. Cohen, Wing-pitch modulation in maneuvering fruit flies is explained by an interplay between aerodynamics and a torsional spring Physical Review E 92, 022712 (2015)

T. Beatus, J. M. Guckenheimer and I. Cohen, Controlling roll perturbations in fruit Flies Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12:20150075 (2015)

I. Shani, T. Beatus, R. Bar-Ziv and T. Tlusty, Long-range orientational order in 2D microfluidic dipoles Nature Physics, 10, 140-144, (2014) (PDF, ‘New and views’)

H. Solomon, Y. Buganim, I. Kogan-Sakin, L. Pomeraniec, Y. Assia, S. Madar,I. Goldstein, R. Brosh. E. Kalo, T. Beatus, N. Goldfinger and V. Rotter, Various p53 mutant types differently regulate the Ras circuit to induce a cancer-related gene signature Journal of Cell Science, 125, 3144–3152 (2012)

T. Beatus, R. Bar-Ziv and T. Tlusty, The physics of 2D microfluidic droplet ensembles Physics Reports, 516, 103–145 (2012)

A. Amir, S. Meshner, T. Beatus and J. Stavans, Damped oscillations in the adaptive response of the iron homeostasis network in e.coli Molecular Microbiology, 76,  2, 428–436 (2010)

T. Beatus, T. Tlusty and R. Bar-Ziv, Burgers Shockwaves and sound in a 2D microfluidic droplets ensemble
Physical Review Letters, 103, 114502 (2009)

T. Beatus, R. Bar-Ziv and T. Tlusty, One-Dimensional Microfluidic Crystals Far From Equilibrium – Acoustic Phonons, Instabilities and Confinement Progress of Theoretical Physics Supplement, 175, 123-130 (2008)

L. Nissim, T. Beatus and R. Bar-Ziv, An autonomous system for identifying and governing a cell’s state in yeast
Physical Biology, 4, 154–163 (2007)

T. Beatus, R. Bar-Ziv and T. Tlusty, Anomalous microfluidic phonons induced by the interplay of hydrodynamic screening and incompressibility Physical Review Letters, 99, 124502 (2007)

As a volunteering activity, I gave a public talk at the Technion on June 26th 2016, in the course called “Discoveries in science” (תגליות מדעיות).
This is both a general Technion course that is open to the public. The following webpage includes the list if talks:

T. Beatus, T. Tlusty and R. Bar-Ziv, Phonons in a one-dimensional microfluidic crystal. Nature Physics, 2, 743–748 (2006)
*This paper has been selected by Nature Physics as a paper of special merit among the papers published during the first decade of the journal, see Nature Physics, 11, p305 (2015)

Arielle Blonder

Arielle is an architect and a Phd student at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion. Her research relates to materiality in architecture, an evolving field of research that investigated material-based systems and processes in architecture and design. The research focuses on “Textile Materiality”, a term coined by Arielle, placing it in architectural context, as an alternative approach to design and fabrication. It examines the potential of integrating methods and techniques that rely on the unique capacities of textile; in the fabrication of architectural elements of composite materials (Fiber reinforced polymers). While the standard fabrication of such elements requires limiting fixed and rigid molds, Arielle wishes to embed features, tools and methods of form making from the textile world (such as folds, cut outs and pleats) in the fabrication of architectural composite elements, as a new design and fabrication approach. The importance of this research lies in its potential for freeing architectural FRP fabrication from the limits of the molds, and expanding the range of processes, methods, forms and design approaches, which are still restricted today in that field.

Dr. Andrea Cassatella

Dr. Cassatella completed his PhD studies at the University of Toronto, and is currently pursuing his postdoctoral research in Political Theory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on the challenge that the global resurgence of religion poses to Western understandings and political forms. Working at the frontiers between political theory, continental philosophy and postcolonial studies of religion, Dr. Cassatella hopes to illuminate some key unquestioned assumptions and political implications of modern secularism.

Talya Eden

Talya is a Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical Engineering in Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on algorithms design, and in particular developing algorithms for efficiently extracting information from big data. As today’s data sets has become so large to accurately process (e.g., even simple protein networks may describe interactions between hundreds of thousands of materials), new algorithms are required in order to efficiently manage the information and test its basic properties. Talya is developing “ultra-efficient” algorithms, that with high probability, produce highly accurate answers in a very short time. The amounts of recorded information will keep growing at a faster and faster pace, and so these algorithms are becoming of crucial importance.

Michal Eisenberg-Bord

Michal is a PhD student in the department of Molecular Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. She is studying the function of mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, which are involved in essential cellular processes, and whose dysfunction is associated with many genetic diseases and is related to neurodegenerative conditions. Using a combination of high-content screening tools, alongside with in-depth biochemical characterization, Michal wishes to uncover ways by which mitochondria communicate with other organelles, and how this communication allows mitochondria to maintain their functions.


A Tether Is a Tether Is a Tether: Tethering at Membrane Contact Sites
Michal Eisenberg-Bord,1,2 Nadav Shai,1,2 Maya Schuldiner,1,* and Maria Bohnert1,*
1Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 7610001, Israel
2Co-first author.
The Article

Dr. Jerry Alfred Fereiro

Dr. Fereiro completed his doctorate in Chemistry in University of Alberta, Canada and he is currently pursuing a postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Department of Materials and Interfaces. His principal research interests lie in the field of molecular electronics. During his PhD at University of Alberta, he investigated the interaction of light with molecular junctions, measuring the photocurrent spectra and understanding the complex phenomenon of charge transfer process. In his current position, he examines dark and light-induced electronic transport mechanisms via proteins, which are remarkably efficient electronic conductors, with a central vision of using proteins as potential building components for future bio-electronic devices.

Dr. Adara Goldberg

Dr. Goldberg completed her PhD studies in the History Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University. She is currently pursuing her postdoctoral research at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University. Utilizing oral documentation sources as well as memoirs, diaries, and social service agency records, her research will create a comparative analysis of child and youth Holocaust survivor resettlement and integration in postwar Commonwealth countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa. Through a cross-cultural and multi-national lens, her research will widen awareness of the role and influence of countries and cultures of resettlement on child and youth survivors’ postwar lives. Adara’s book, Holocaust Survivors in Canada: Exclusion, Inclusion, Transformation, 1947-1955 (University of Manitoba Press, 2015) won The Marsid Foundation Prize at the 2016 Western Jewish Canada Book Award.

Noa Grass

Dr. Grass completed her PhD studies in Chinese History at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of History in Tel Aviv University. Her work concerns issues in political economy and fiscal policy. Her research on paper money in imperial China uses its five-hundred year history to broaden our understanding of the performance of fiat currency in the economy. Its implementation in premodern economies challenges accepted theories on economic development and modernity and thus offers an important contribution to the analysis of contemporary economic patterns and a novel comparative perspective from which to reevaluate historical paths that led to the present day.

Rachel Gregor

Rachel is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in the field of Chemical Biology.  She studies the communication between bacteria: how individual bacterial cells can sense one another and act as a larger unit by synchronizing their actions, for example to produce toxins; and how the human immune system can interpret this signaling in order to fight infections. She also investigates the small molecules that govern the coexistence and competition between different species of bacteria in a complex, natural microbial community, specifically the bovine digestive system. With antibiotic resistance on the rise, Rachel hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how infections are established and what molecules are involved, which can lead to the development of alternative routes to target or prevent infection.

Itay Griniasty

Itay is a PhD student in the field of physics at the Weizmann institute of science. He studies Casimir forces: an effect due to the quantum nature of elementary forces particularly electromagnetism. Casimir forces are responsible for most of the stickiness in nature, like the stiction of paint to walls. The source of the Casimir force also acts in great distances and may drive the expansion of the universe. Current theories describe Casimir forces between objects, like the paint and the wall, but fail to describe them inside objects, e.g. inside the paint that they may blow apart. Itay is extending the current theories of the Casimir force so that we may predict its effect inside media, this may affect the Casimir contribution to the expansion of the universe.

Dr. Noam Kaplan

Dr. Noam Kaplan is a new faculty member at the Technion Faculty of Medicine, returning from a postdoctoral position at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He studies the physical structure of the genome, which is closely linked to genome function in both healthy and disease processes. By combining advanced computational methods with genomic experimentation, Dr. Kaplan’s lab will try to decipher how the genome encodes its three-dimensional organization and how this organization mediates biological function in a range of biological systems. By developing quantitative models and testing them experimentally, he aims to go beyond descriptive genomics and gain mechanistic insights into the underlying principles of genome structure and function.

Ori Katz

Ori is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University. His research deals with missing persons in Israel, and with the cultural space between life and death. Through field work using in-depth interviews with relevant actors (families of the missing, police, volunteer organizations, media, etc.), participation in searching for missing persons, activity in the association of the families of the missing and other events, Ori tries to find how narratives of missingness are constructed, in a field full of ambiguity and paradoxes. The research focuses in an unstudied field, in which there are only few cultural scripts, concerning both the extent of the phenomenon and the public visibility of missing soldiers, who have a significant place in the collective memory. The research may also contribute to the theoretical knowledge regarding the construction of social categories in conditions of ambiguity and uncertainty.

Shmuel Katz

Shmuel is a PhD student in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, at the Technion. His research focuses on designing new materials, also called metamaterials (“materials” made from carefully designed repeating micro-scale building blocks). The objective of the research is to understand the dynamic response of a chain composed of masses and bistable springs, springs which have two stable states (like switches), to impacts and vibrations. Careful design of the building blocks may enable the realization of a new class of energy-absorbing materials that cannot be found in nature, i.e. mechanical insulators that protect from vibrations and impacts. This work has the potential to revolutionize the field of energy-absorption, by the development of new metamaterials to be used in a range of applications, such as passenger protection, medical devices, and protective packaging of fragile components.

Dr. Michael Khanevsky

Dr. Khanevsky is a new faculty member at the Technion’s Department of Mathematics, returning to Israel after postdoctoral positions at the University Libre de Bruxelles, University of Chicago and Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His research is concentrated in symplectic geometry and its interactions with geometric group theory and dynamical systems. In particular, interest are Hamiltonian deformations that describe various motions: path of a satellite, trajectory of a particle inside an accelerator or evolution of ideal fluid. Understanding geometry of such deformations is important to construct a trajectory (eg: find an optimal path for a satellite), predict future evolution of a mechanical system or reconstruct its past and deal with the stability of motion under perturbations.

Gal Lazarus

Gal is a PhD student in the field of Clinical Psychology at Bar-Ilan University. His research focuses on relational motivations of approach and avoidance within couples’ romantic relationships and within psychotherapy. Particularly, Gal’s research explores how these motivations are tied to accuracy and bias in interpersonal perception of relational emotions, cognitions, and desires. Based on questionnaires filled each day (for couples) or each session (for client and patients), the research examines a variety of closeness and distance manifestations, and allows for the detection of relational fluctuations as they occur. Expanding our understanding of individuals’ closeness regulation can lead to better identification of maladaptive relational processes and development of efficient interventions for these processes in order to create more adaptive patterns of connectedness

Ido Levin

Ido is a PhD student in the fields of non-linear and soft-matter Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on the shaping mechanisms and the mechanical properties of growing elastic objects and on the relation between elasticity and geometry. In particular, he is working on actuating slender gel sheets using chemical waves. These gels change their shape periodically in a controlled manner to form autonomous shape-shifting devices. Ido hopes to contribute insights that can lead toward building primitive soft machines and provide deeper understanding of their dynamics and mechanical properties.

Sharon Sadan Levy

Sharon is a PhD student in the Department of Learning Disabilities at the Faculty of Education at Haifa University. Her study focuses on mathematical learning difficulties among adults, which have great influence on the academic experience and on everyday life. Sharon is thoroughly examining a new aspect concerning the consistency of the arithmetic performance. She examines whether in addition to the numerical deficits characterizing this population, they also have difficulties recruiting attentional recourses when performing simple arithmetic tasks leading to an inefficient and fluctuant performance. Sharon is hoping that this study will help to better understand mathematical learning difficulties and to develop new interventions programs for improving the arithmetic performance of this population.

Ahmad Masarwa

Dr. Masarwa completed his PhD studies in Chemistry at the Technion, working on selective metal-mediated carbon–carbon bond activation of strained compounds under the supervision of Prof. Ilan Marek. His research was recently selected for the IUPAC–Solvay International Award for Young Chemists. He continued on to postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley (USA), and currently holds a faculty position as Assistant Professor and Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Chemistry of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Masarwa’s research focuses on the fields of organic – synthetic chemistry, and organometallic chemistry of strong bonds activation. The synergy between Science and Art is at the heart of his research program, leading towards unique and innovative investigations of bonds activation, and providing a deeper understanding of this challenging field.

Maayan Nidbach

Ma’ayan is a PhD student in the Department of Asian Studies at Hebrew University. Her research spans the fields of Indian Philosophy, Linguistics and Theology and it deals with the unique place of language (Sanskrit) in the writings of a new theological school from Kashmir of 10-11th centuries CE (Kashmir Shaivism) as influenced by the philosophy of Bhartṛhari, a philosopher and grammarian who lived half a century earlier. By examining the ways in which Bhartṛhari’s terminology and philosophy were revived and reinterpreted, she hopes to shed new light on an unexamined link in the history of Indian thought.

Dr. Dan Orbach

Dr. Orbach is a military historian who studied for more than ten years in Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Cambridge MA, receiving a PhD degree from Harvard University. As a historian, commentator and political blogger, he  has published extensively on German, Japanese, Chinese, Israeli and Middle Eastern history, with a special focus on military resistance, disobedience, rebellions and political assassinations. His two latest books, The Plots Against Hitler and Curse on this Country – Japanese Military Insubordination and the Origins of the Pacific War are forthcoming in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Cornell University Press, respectively. They will also be published in Hebrew and Italian translation. Currently, Dr. Orbach is working on a comparative history, first of its kind, of military adventurers in the 20th Century. Dr. Orbach has recently taken up a faculty position as Senior Lecturer in the Hebrew University’s Department of Asian Studies.

Nirit Pilosof

Nirit is a PhD student of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion. Her research explores the connection between healthcare, architecture and time, acknowledging both the challenge of planning hospital facilities to meet the rapid progress of medicine and technology, and the limitation of current tools to predict and evaluate the design. In her study, Nirit proposes to develop a method to facilitate the evaluation of hospital design strategies for change, by simulating ‘what if’ scenarios. A computational use-model simulation will enhance design optimization, collaboration and knowledgeable decision-making by architects and hospital directors during the design process and throughout the life cycle of the hospital.

Lotem Pinchover

Lotem is a PhD student of Art History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In her research, she focuses on the presence of Jerusalem in medieval Saxon convents, as expressed in their art and cult. The reference to the holy places in Jerusalem includes the stations along the Via Dolorosa (The Stations of the Cross), the Holy Sepulchre Church, Christ’s Tomb and more. In northern Germany, these representations were especially common in the visual tradition of female communities and were repeated in a variety of media: architecture, sculpture, reliefs, illustrations and texts. Lotem aims to offer novel reasons for the popularity and centrality of Jerusalem representations in the art and cult of the medieval nuns. Through this reading she hopes to reveal more on the relationship between gender and iconography involving sacred topography.

Dr. Vladimir Reinharz

Dr. Reinharz completed his PhD studies in Computer Science at McGill University. He is currently pursuing a postdoctoral research at the Computer Science Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Ribonucleic acids (RNAs) are ubiquitous in life and perform a vast array of essential functions. Structured RNAs fold into complex three-dimensional configurations to achieve these functions.  Dr. Reinharz develops mathematical models to understand the relationship between sequence and structure, to determine the functions of known RNAs and design artificial ones with novel applications.

Yuval Rubinstein

Yuval is a Masters Student of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion.  His research deals with ‘Dynamic Urban Planning’ and ‘Masterplans’.  More specifically, his research proposes a new dynamic urban planning model, based on urban information databases and on advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  Today’s masterplans suffer from many issues, such as the reliance on irrelevant databases and poor adaptation to the dynamic environment of the city.  These issues and other problems, make the masterplans’ goals and visions difficult to follow, hence impairing the healthy development of the city.  By integrating ICT into the masterplan, Yuval aims to create a dynamic urban model structure, that will actively change and adjust according to the changing needs of the city and its citizens.  This model could assist planers and decision makers in developing and operating cities according to their visions, while keeping their planning relevant and fulfilling the city’s ongoing needs.

Dr. Talya Sadeh

Dr. Sadeh is a new faculty member at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, returning to Israel from a postdoctoral position in Canada, at the Baycrest Centre and the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the neuro-cognitive mechanisms of episodic memory—the unique human capacity to re-live events from the past—and asks questions like: Why do we forget? How is information organized in memory? How is memory affected by pre – and post-learning processes? These topics have implications not only for theory, but also for practice in treatment of memory loss.

Dr. Leia Saltzman

Dr. Saltzman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Hebrew University in the School of Social Work and Social Welfare. She received her PhD in Social Work from Boston College. Dr. Saltzman infuses a strengths-based approach to studying the process of adaptation following exposure to trauma. She has participated in both national and international collaborations with leading experts in the field of psychological trauma. She is passionate about translating research to mental health policies and clinical practice with the goal of promoting well-being, building stronger families, and more cohesive communities that can withstand the impact of mass trauma events.

Bridget Schvarcz

Brigitta is a PhD Student in the Department of Linguistics at Bar-Ilan University. Her research explores the grammar of counting in Hungarian.  Languages like English use numbers with count nouns, as in “three cats”, (but not “three furnitures”). Languages such as Mandarin use classifiers, expressing the same meaning by “three units of cat” (parallel to the English “three pieces of furniture”). Unusually, Hungarian uses both systems. Brigitta’s central question is how this hybrid system works, and why Hungarian has such a system.  She hopes to understand more about the relation between language and numbers, and about how counting systems work in grammar.


  • Schvarcz Brigitta R. In Press. Language Awareness and EFL Teachers’ Professional Identity. Constructions of Identity VIII. Cluj Napoca: Casa Cărţii de Ştiinţă.
  • Schvarcz Brigitta R. 2016. Measure Constructions in Hungarian and the Semantics of the –nyi Suffix. In: A. Lipták and H. van der Hulst szerk., Approaches to Hungarian 15: Papers from the 2015 Leiden Conference. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Schvarcz Brigitta R. and Susan Rothstein. 2016. Hungarian classifier constructions and the mass/count distinction. In: A. Lipták and H. van der Hulst szerk., Approaches to Hungarian 15: Papers from the 2015 Leiden Conference. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Khrizman Keren, Fred Landman, Suzi Lima Susan Rothstein and Brigitta R. Schvarcz.  Portion readings are count readings, not measure readings. The Proceedings of the 20th Amsterdam Colloquium.

Volunteer Activities:

I volunteer at the Starlight activity-center for sick children at the Schneider hospital.

Once a week, I play with children of various ages and help them to catch up on their homework and often provide emotional support to their parents.

The children come in to the center in a sad, uncertain and nervous state, even frightened, and they always leave with a smile on their face. Their timeout at the center is real benefit to them: through games and crafts, children disconnect from their pains and aches, while this happy relief also contributes to their recovery.

Through this voluntary activity, I practice putting other people’s needs in front of mine. Whenever I am at the hospital, I feel as if the world outside stops: no matter how busy I am, how heavy my workload is, I fully devote my attention to this soul-fulfilling work. I give myself unconditionally to the children, and this helps me put life into perspective.

Dr. Tamar Segal-Peretz

Dr. Segal-Peretz is a new faculty member at the Technion in the Department of Chemical Engineering, returning to Israel from a postdoctoral fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory and at the University of Chicago. Her research interests lie in the area of polymer-based functional nanostructures, ranging from self-assembly of polymers to advanced three-dimensional characterization using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) tomography. Spontaneous self-assembly of polymers can be harnessed to form structures that range from 3 to 50 nm, which are difficult to obtain using conventional patterning techniques, and have tremendous potential in nanofabrication and separation applications. Dr. Segal – Peretz’s research will focus on understanding and developing new materials and processes that would enable the fabrication of the future’s optical and semiconductor devices as well as separation membranes for purification and water treatment processes.

Yaniv Sela

Yaniv is a PhD student in the school of neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. His research focus is sleep, and the mechanism of the sensory disconnection from surrounding environment, in order to explain the profound loss of consciousness and responsiveness during sleep. Yaniv aims to discover where along the neural pathways does the propagation of sensory signals stop during natural sleep, and what brain mechanism mediates it. Furthermore, he hopes to advance our understanding of the purpose of sleep, which is evolutionarily preserved behavior while at the same time entails many risks due to the lack of responsiveness. Understanding sensory disconnection might help to better characterize neurological conditions such as attention disorders and insomnia, improve clinical procedures of general anesthesia, and shed light on one of the most fundamental unresolved questions in biology.

Ido Sivan Sevilla

Ido is a PhD Candidate at the School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Ido’s research deals with the design of public policies and regulations in cyberspace. His main research question is how national security and civil liberties complement and contradict in the digital age. Ido is conducting a comparative analysis between two central political systems, ​and traces the development of regulation through legislation, policy institutions, government orders, court rulings, and policy guidelines. ​While the literature is rich with theoretical debates over the tensions between security and liberty, Ido examines empirically, over the course of Forty years, how these values are de-facto constructed in the technological sphere. ​Ido’s research aims to increase our understanding on how regulation is evolved, and shed light on the construction of fundamental principles within our current information society.

Amit Sitt

Dr. Sitt is a new faculty member at Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry, returning to Israel following postdoctoral training in Columbia University in the USA, and in Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. His research interests lie in the fields of smart programmable materials and self-assembly in the nano and microscale regimes. Dr. Sitt’s lab will focus on developing and studying materials that can be programmed to hold and process chemical information. Similarly to a computer program, upon execution the chemically coded program embedded in the material will return a well-defined output– for instance a change of the shape or in the chemical nature of the material. Such materials, which mimic nature’s approach of coding information in biochemical structures, are poised to lead to the discovery of new phenomena, shed light on the principles of similar processes in biological systems, and lead to the development of novel applications in the fields of biomedicine and smart materials.

Mark Shusterman

Mark is a PhD student in Tel-Aviv University. His research focuses on the solution of problems in pure Mathematics that deal with properties of prime numbers, algebraic structures and their symmetries. Mark’s research leads to insights on abstract Mathematical structures such as groups, fields, and manifolds. Part of the research is joint with graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. Some of the theoretical results find their applications in Computer Science, in areas such as Cryptography and Coding Theory.


  • Free subgroups of nitely generated free pro nite groups, Journal of the London Mathematical Society, 2016.
  • Totally real subextensions, An appendix to Rel leaves of the Arnoux-Yoccoz surfaces, by P. Hooper, and B. Weiss. Submitted.  Lior Bary-Soroker, Mark Shusterman, Umberto Zannier
  • Ranks of subgroups in boundedly generated groups, Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society, 2016.
    Mark Shusterman
  • Ascending chains of nitely generated subgroups, Journal of Algebra, 2017.
    Mark Shusterman
  • Mark Shusterman, Groups with positive rank gradient and their actions, To appear in Mathematica Slovaca.
  • An axiomatizable pro nite group with in nitely many open subgroups of index 2, Journal of Group Theory, 2016.
    Or Ben Porath, Mark Shusterman
  • Schreier’s formula for Prosupersolvable groups, To appear in International Journal of Algebra and Computation. Mark Shusterman
  • Rank gradient of sequences of subgroups in a direct product, Preprint.
    Nikolay Nikolov, Zvi Shemtov, Mark Shusterman

Gal Waisel

Gal is an M.Arch student at Tel Aviv University, Azrieli School of Architecture. Her study is focusing on photographic images showing the creation and activity of the Israeli “people’s house”, a cultural and social framework that was adopted by all forms of settlement in Eretz Israel, along with the desire of creation an educational and cultural melting pot integrated into the emerging Zionist society. Gal is examining the relationship between the people’s houses architecture, its visual images, and the way they are formed into both private and the collective memories, all through formal and personal photographs of different people’s houses taken around the 40’s-50’s period and their usages. This study’s goal is to define visual characteristic patterns of these images, proving the importance of architectural imagery within the field of architecture, implementation of ideas and messages and construction of memory, at individual, community, and national levels. Gal hopes that this study will yield fresh knowledge related to visual media as a narratives creator and stabilizer, narratives that were formed during the period when the Israeli society behavioral patterns were established and enhanced until nowadays.

Ran Weksler

Ran is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Economics and the Center for the Study of Rationality in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research deals with decision making in economic situations, i.e., situations where agents (individuals and companies) seek to maximize their economic benefit, while taking into account the behavior of their opponents. Ran’s study is part of a growing literature in the field of micro-economics theory that examines classical economic situations (CPI prices, supply and demand), which were tested in the past under the assumption that all parties are perfectly informed about the situation, and is now challenged under a new premise that information is only partial. The importance of his research lies in working with complex analytical models that are strongly linked to economic reality.

2015-2016 Azrieli Fellows

Halely Balaban

Halely is a PhD student in the field of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. Her research targets working memory, and specifically how we can overcome its severe capacity limits by integrating distinct items. Using electrophysiological and behavioral methods, she investigates how we dynamically update the active mental representations according not only to online changes in the visual input, but also to subtle contextual cues. With this unique approach that challenges dominant views in the field, she hopes to answer important questions in a novel, delicate, and ecological manner.


  • Balaban, H., & Luria, R. (2017). Neural and behavioral evidence for an online resetting process in visual working memory. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(5), 1225-1239.
  • Balaban, H., & Luria, R. (2016). Object representations in visual working memory change according to the task context. Cortex, 1-13.
  • Balaban, H., & Luria, R. (2016). Integration of distinct objects in visual working memory depends on strong objecthood cues even for different-dimension conjunctions. Cerebral Cortex, 26, 2093-2104.
  • Luria, R., Balaban, H., Awh, E., & Vogel, E. K. (2016). The contralateral delay activity as a neural measure of visual working memory. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 62, 100-108.
  • Balaban, H., & Luria, R. (2015). The number of objects determines visual working memory capacity allocation for complex items. NeuroImage, 119, 54-62.
  • Allon, A. S., Balaban, H., & Luria, R. (2014). How low can you go? Changing the resolution of novel complex objects in visual working memory according to task demands. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:265, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2-14.00265

Erez Cohen

Erez is a PhD student in the field of Physics at Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on short-range interactions of nucleons (protons and neutrons) inside the nuclei, using accelerated electrons and static light-nuclei targets. Erez envisions an academic career in which he hopes to contribute significantly to the knowledge base in his field and make fundamental changes within academia to benefit students, the system and the field of physics.

Veronica Dudarev

Veronica is a PhD student in the field of Psychology at the Hebrew University.  Her research focuses on unconscious memory and the way it affects online conscious experience and in other words, whether and how memory affects the way we see the world. By showing that past experiences shape our present consciousness in automatic manner, Veronica hopes to develop a new paradigm for future research on conscious and unconscious processes, and the relationship between them.

Shifra Lansky

Shifra is a PhD student in the field of Chemistry at the Hebrew University. In her research she uses X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic-resolution structures and mechanisms of proteins, focusing specifically on the proteins composing the arabinan utilization system in thermophilic bacteria. Understanding the structure-function relationship of these proteins will not only provide answers to many basic scientific questions, but also enable their use in a wide range of biotechnological applications, such as the production of biofuel from biomass to generate an alternative, renewable, and environmentally friendly source of energy.

Deborah Marciano

Deborah is a PhD student in Psychology and at the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University. Her works belongs to the growing field of Neuroeconomics, which draws insights from psychology, economics, and neuroscience. Deborah focuses on situation of choices between two uncertain options (for example stocks), and looks at the effect of the outcome of the unchosen option on judgment and decision-making. By using neuroscientific techniques paired with paradigms from behavioral economics, she hopes to paint an integrative picture of how feedback on foregone options can influence the way we evaluate information and shape our future decisions, as well as deepen our understanding of how these processes are encoded in the brain.

Yonat Rum

Yonat is a PhD student at Tel Aviv University in the field of Special Education. Her research focuses on the interactions and relationships between children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and their siblings with typical development. Yonat intends to increase the knowledge base regarding social abilities of children with ASD, and interactions between siblings. She hopes that beyond their theoretical significance, her findings will lead to the establishment of intervention programs for families of children with ASD, as for programs of educational inclusion of children with ASD.

For more information about the Azrieli Fellows Program please email us at:

Azrieli Fellows Program 
85 Medinat HaYehudim St.
Herzliya Pituach 4614101