Marcel Adams 311.
(photo credit: The Academy of Sciences)
Twelve Israeli doctoral students in the sciences will on Thursday receive a total of $1 million dollars in scholarships/stipends donated by Montreal real estate developer Marcel Adams, who is celebrating his 90th birthday.
The event will be held at Jerusalem’s Israel Academy of Sciences and the Arts, whose academic committees, along with the universities, are responsible for the selection of the winners of the country’s most prestigious science fellowships.
The winners of the much-needed fellowships for up to four years of doctoral research and tuition are regarded as some of Israel’s future stars in the fields of the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, life sciences and engineering.
Adams, who founded the fellowship program in 2005 and until 2010 gave them to 47 promising young Israeli researchers, will personally hand the 12 new winners their prizes. An ardent Zionist, he was a penniless Holocaust survivor from Romania who fought in Israel’s War of Independence and eventually made his fortune in Canada as a businessman.
He has arrived together with his son, Dr. Julian Adams, who will deliver the guest lecture, telling the story of Velcade, a drug he developed for the treatment of multiple myeloma, a rare but deadly blood cancer.
Itai Roffman, a 27-year-old University of Haifa doctoral student who works with the famed Dr. Jane Goodall, investigating the chimpanzee family and the evolution of prehistoric man, is one of the Adams fellows.
His doctoral work in Israel focuses on the theory of evolution of prehistoric man, showing that chimpanzees are the “brothers” of homo sapiens and arguing that they should be “included in the family.”
Roffman said humans and chimpanzees share 94 percent of their genes, with the animals more closely related to homo sapiens than to lower monkeys.
Roffman succeeded in teaching his moderately retarded 23 year-old brother Orr to communicate with his environment and express himself by observing and being exposed to chimpanzees and using a keyboard comprised of 450 keys.
He has also established volunteering projects throughout the country, among them on providing assistance and lecturing to the villagers of Ghajar, situated on the Lebanese border, on multiculturalism and acceptance of the other.
Avital Swisa, who comes from a haredi family of 11 children in northern Jerusalem, is another Adams fellow. She is conducting research on a cure for diabetes at the Hebrew University. She is the only one of her siblings who continued to a higher education after high school.
Following her studies as a lab technician in a special program at Hadassah College for haredi women, it was suggested to Swisa that she get practical experience in a research laboratory. Her brilliance quickly shined through and she soon embarked on her master’s degree studies, switching to a direct-track PhD two years ago.
She is the first master’s degree student in the world to have presented
her work in the prestigious US National Institutes of Science, the
Israel Academy of Sciences says.
Klim Efremenko, who is doing his doctorate in computer science at Tel
Aviv University, is another recipient. Born in 1982 in Kazakhstan, he
came on aliya in 1995. A mathematics enthusiast from early childhood,
he won his city’s math tournament at the age of nine.
By 10th grade, he completed his matriculation in the subject and at the
age of 17, he was accepted as a full-time student in the Excellence
Program of Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.