Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities add five new researchers to its prestigious ranks

One woman and four men join the ranks of the country's most distinguished scholars.

December 22, 2014 16:57
3 minute read.
Professor Alexander Lubotzky.

Professor Alexander Lubotzky.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Five senior researchers – one woman and four men – have been named to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The academy acts as a national focal point for Israeli scholarship in both the natural sciences and the humanities and has 211 of the country’s most distinguished scholars who advise the government on planning and maintains contact with the international scientific community.

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The following are the new members, who will attend the ceremony in Jerusalem on Tuesday, presided over by academy president Prof. Ruth Arnon: Prof. Michal Biran, in the department of Islamic studies at the Hebrew University, whose interests include inner Asian history; cross-cultural contacts among China, the Muslim world and Europe; and the Mongol Empire and its legacy. Born in Jerusalem, she speaks English, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Russian, French and German in addition to Hebrew.

She has studied at Harvard and in China and Russia, received Fulbright scholarships for her graduate and postdoctoral studies, and held a fellowship at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study.

Prof. Moshe Bar-Asher, professor emeritus in the Hebrew language department at the Hebrew University, a veteran linguist and the president of the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem. Born in Morocco in 1939, he immigrated to Israel in 1951 when he was 12 years old. He received his Ph.D from the Hebrew University and was chairman in the early 1980s of the Hebrew Language Department, followed by the chairmanship of the university’s Institute for Jewish Studies. In 1987, he became vice president of the Hebrew language academy and then president in 1993.

He is an expert, among other things, of the language traditions of the Jews of North Africa.

He received the Israel Prize in Hebrew language research in 1993, the Rothschild Prize in 2008 and the Emet Prize in 2012.

Prof. Yadin Dudai, a neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

He was born in Israel to a family that lost most of its members in the Holocaust in Lithuania and Poland. After working as a professional journalist and news editor for a leading Israeli daily, he switched to biochemistry and genetics, with supplements in modern history, at the Hebrew University and received his doctorate in biophysics from Weizmann Institute of Science and his postdoctoral studies at the California Institute of Technology, where he was on Seymour Benzer’s team that started the neurogenetic analysis of memory mechanisms.

He was an adviser to the president and to the National Council of Research and Development and a member of the Planning and Grants Committee of Council of Higher Education.

Dudai has contributed to our understanding of brain and behavioral mechanisms of learning and memory.

Prof. Alexander Lubotzky, a former head of the Hebrew University’s mathematics institute, was a Knesset member for the Third Way party between 1996 and 1999. He is known for contributions to geometric group theory, the study of subgroup growth and applications of group theory to combinatorics and computer science.

He was elected a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.

As a politician, he served on several bodies including the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. As an MK, Lubotzky was mainly known for his compromise proposals on religious issues and pluralism.

Prof. Ariel Porat, born in Tel Aviv in 1956, served as an intelligence officer in the IDF and received his law degrees at Tel Aviv University, where he served as dean of the law faculty for four years. His research focuses on tort law as well as on other fields in private law. In his first book, he proposed the adoption of a comparative fault defense in contract law, resulting in sharing the responsibility for breach of contract between the parties. His proposal was later adopted by the Supreme Court and has since become the prevailing law in Israel.

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