Three young Israeli scientists named 2019 Blavatnik laureates

The award, announced by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, recognizes scientists under the age of 42 in the areas of life sciences, chemistry and physical sciences and engineering.

Michal Rivlin, Moran Bercovici and Erez Berg (photo credit: Courtesy)
Michal Rivlin, Moran Bercovici and Erez Berg
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Three Israelis were named 2019 laureates of the second annual Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel.
The awardees are Dr. Michal Rivlin, 40, a senior scientist in the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot; Dr. Moran Bercovici, 36, an associate professor in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion Institute of Technology; and Dr. Erez Berg, 41, an associated professor in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at Weizmann.
The award – announced jointly by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities – recognizes scientists under the age of 42 for their extraordinary achievements and promise of future discoveries in the areas of life sciences, chemistry, physical sciences and engineering.
This year, there were 33 nominations from seven universities across Israel.
Rivlin won for her research into the retina, the part of the eye where all visual processes begin. Her work revealed that cells in the retina can dramatically change their response properties to stimuli such as motion and light, which could have implications on the understanding of the mechanisms underlying computations in neuronal circuits; the treatment of retinal diseases and blindness; and the development of computer vision technologies.
Bercovici was awarded for his research in microfluidics, contributing to fundamental understanding of the chemical and physical behavior of fluids at extremely small scales, as well as to the invention of cutting-edge technologies in this field. Innovations coming from his lab could have potential use in many fields, including soft actuators, adaptive optics, single-cell analysis and micro-scale 3D printing.
Berg won for his studies into quantum materials. He developed a landmark computational method to study an important phenomenon, called metallic quantum criticality, which is commonly seen in many quantum materials.
Prof. Nili Cohen, president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, said that each of the winners, “demonstrates their outstanding merit, their passion for pushing the frontiers of scientific discovery and their bright future as part of a new generation of pioneering Israeli scientists.”
The awards for this year’s winners will be conferred at a ceremony in Jerusalem on April 7. They will likewise be invited to attend the Blavatnik Science Symposium each summer in New York City, when the prize’s 250 laureates come together to collaborate on cross-disciplinary research and share news.