Two years ago, when English literature scholar Deni Kasa was approaching the end of his time as an Azrieli International Postdoctoral Fellow, he reflected on his experience in the Azrieli Fellows Program at a farewell event for the outgoing cohort.
“As soon as I arrived in Israel, I felt like part of a community that was united by a shared vision,” sayd Deni, who came to Tel Aviv University from Canada and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. “I shared my research with chemists, biologists, physicists, historians, philosophers and other specialists.
“Like many Fellows, I went through a metamorphosis,” he continued. “I began to see my work as part of the quest to bring academic labour to the world.”
Testimonials like this from past and current Fellows are by no means unique. Many praise the program, not only because it supports their individual research, but also because it connects them to a network of people who are dedicated to scientific and scholarly innovation for the betterment of society.
Mikael Rechtsman, an Azrieli International Postdoctoral Fellow in physics at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology 10 years ago, came to Israel to join a research group that was conducting cutting-edge photonics work.
“That was one of the main reasons I decided to go to Haifa,” said Mikael, now a leading physicist at Pennsylvania State University. “Our ultimate discovery was a team effort.”
Meanwhile, astrophysicist and recent Azrieli International Postdoctoral Fellow alum, Yann Gouttenoire, credits the Azrieli Fellows Program with allowing him to attend conferences around the world; this allows him to share ideas with physicists from other countries — collaboration that’s indispensable in his field.
Architect Arielle Blonder, a former Azrieli Graduate Studies Fellow, began collaborating with physicists in her sustainable materials research thanks in part to a chance meeting at a Fellows event. This embodies the cross-pollination of ideas and societal improvement at the core of the program.
As Deni said in his farewell address, “Academia is not an ivory tower, but a community that ought to transform the face of our world.”