Bar-Ilan scientists mentor US undergrads in summer internship

ThInitiative enables students to gain hands-on experience in emerging scientific fields through mentorships with Israeli scientists.

July 30, 2013 00:57
3 minute read.
YESHIVA UNIVERSITY student David Kornbluth works in a lab at Bar-Ilan University.

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY student works in a lab 370. (photo credit: courtesy Bar Ilan University)

Thirty-two selected undergraduate science majors from US higher education institutions including Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, Queen’s College, Princeton University, City University of New York, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union, UCLA and York University are participating in the third annual Summer Science Research Internship program in partnership with Bar- Ilan University.

The initiative enables students to gain hands-on experience in emerging scientific fields through mentorships with Israeli scientists.

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The program, which will end August 8, consists of a seven-week research experience during which students are placed in intensive internships in Bar- Ilan University’s research laboratories along with faculty members in fields such as nanotechnology, brain research, engineering, life sciences, mathematics, chemistry, physics and computer science.

“The quality of the students joining us each year has been consistently high and their enthusiasm and work ethic has been most impressive,” said Prof. Chaim Sukenik, course founder and dean of the Faculty of Exact Sciences.

“These students have distinguished themselves as a group and have made it easy to get my colleagues to agree to take them into their labs.

“It is truly a pleasure working with them, and it is our hope that the program continues for years to come,” Sukenik, who was recently appointed president of the Jerusalem College of Technology, added.

Among the US students participating in this summer’s program is 21-year-old David Kornbluth, from Cedarhurst, New York who is majoring in physics at Yeshiva College, where he’s entering his fourth year.

Kornbluth, who is interested in a career in either mechanical or civil engineering, explained that he plans to make aliya at some point in the future.

Working in the laboratory with Bar-Ilan (BIU) returning scientist in the Faculty of Engineering Dr. Rachela Popovtzer, Kornbluth has been assisting a PhD student in coating nanoparticles and preparing them for injection into mice.

Kornbluth said he is gaining a lot of experience being surrounded by Masters and PhD students in the lab which is also “teaching [him] how to do certain things which [he] probably would not have learned anywhere else.”

“The BIU-YU program adds so much to the existing science and research education of our students, including the worldfamous research base, the highlevel mentorship and a strong peer group of Israeli students, scholars in their own right,” said Dr. Anatoly Frenkel, professor of physics and the coordinator of the Summer Science Research Internship program at Stern College.

The group of students resides in the Yeshiva University dorms in Jerusalem and are bused to BIU five days a week.

They work on campus from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While the Summer Internship Program focuses primarily on lab work, it also includes trips to scientific and industrial sites across the country as well as a series of lunch meetings with Bar-Ilan faculty members.

Participants have already toured Tel Hashomer Hospital and Elisra, a subsidiary company of Elbit Systems that develops high-performance defense electronic and electro-optic systems.

Later in the program they are expected to visit the headquarters of Teva Pharmaceuticals and take part in Bar-Ilan University’s annual excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

“The internship program is a fantastic opportunity for our undergraduate students with a strong background in the sciences to experience a nurturing, interdisciplinary research environment and to develop their basic research skills,” chemistry professor and the project coordinator at Yeshiva College, Dr. Raji Viswanathan said in a statement. “It is also important to us that, as they grow, the students understand the special relationship that exists between scientific excellence and the religious values shared by both Yeshiva University and Bar-Ilan.”

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