The presidents of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Dalhousie University of Nova Scotia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to create a world class Ocean Studies Center in Eilat.
“We see great opportunities stemming from this scientific partnership, both research and technology-wise, between these two universities,” Harper said during the signing ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
The center aims to become an internationally recognized gathering place for marine scientists from around the world as well as a leader of basic, applied and industry-partnered scientific advances. In addition, the center will develop an innovative international educational program for the advancement of highly qualified personnel.
“The sea covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface and is essential for our survival. And yet, at the same time, most of it remains unexplored – filled with mystery and unfulfilled potential. We believe this partnership will strengthen the cutting edge science at both universities and place this unique initiative at the forefront of global research,” said BGU President Rivka Carmi.
The center will focus on a number of fields, including marine biology, oceanography, under sea geology, transportation systems, marine law governing sovereignty and the regulation of endangered species, as well as marine security and marine management.
The collaborative partnership will involve pure and applied joint research projects, co-supervision of doctoral students, industry research internships in both countries, joint field courses in the winter in Eilat and in the summer at Dalhousie University, co-taught courses delivered electronically over long distances and major international scientific conferences and workshops both in Eilat and Halifax.
Although focused on marine sciences, the collaboration also aims to develop cultural, socio-historical and political understanding among students and scientists from Canada and Israel, as well as other countries around the world.
Canadian philanthropist, Seymour Schulich, along with the recent collaborative focus of European Union and Canadian funding on marine science and technology in the Horizon 2020 program, assisted in making the partnership possible.
“Schulich, with his masterful vision and generosity, has been the catalyst for what has the potential to become a world-class ocean research center for Dalhousie University and Ben-Gurion University.
He, along with all the insightful and driving groundwork provided by VP Researcher Martha Crago and the excellent scientific links of Marlon Lewis and other Dalhousie researchers to Israeli researchers, has given us the critical momentum and credibility to advance our partnerships with those universities significantly through the conversations we are having in Israel this week,” said Dalhousie President Richard Florizone.
Eilat is currently home to the Interuniversity Institute in Marine Science (IUI) involving the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University and BGU. It is also the location of the National Center for Marin culture, and a BGU campus, all with researchers dedicated to marine sciences.
Dalhousie University is the leading Canadian ocean research university, situated on the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean.
As one of Canada’s top 15 performing research intensive universities it has over 100 world famous ocean scientists distributed across a number of faculties and disciplines.
In addition it has close ties, through its Halifax Marine Research Institute, with five Canadian federal government laboratories and a number of successful ocean technology companies.