HU, Weizmann Institute faculty capture Rothschild Prizes for 2008

This year's winners: Professors Itamar Willner, Mordechai Heiblum, Etan Kohlberg and Moshe Bar-Asher.

test tube science 88 (photo credit: )
test tube science 88
(photo credit: )
Three researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot will receive the Rothschild Prize for 2008, according to an announcement made on Tuesday. The prizes have been awarded since 1959 to outstanding scientists in mathematics, physical sciences, chemical sciences, life sciences, agriculture, engineering, humanities, Jewish studies and social sciences. The biennial prize was established to encourage Israeli science and culture. The winners are: • HU Prof. Itamar Willner, an international authority in the fields of nanobiotechnology and bioelectronics, will receive the prize in chemical sciences. His pioneering research demonstrated innovative paradigms for the electronic activation of biomolecules, the synthesis of new electronic and optoelectronic materials composed of biomolecules and nanoparticle hybrids, and the "bottom-up" assembly of nanostructures on biomolecules. His work provides the scientific grounds for nanomedicine and has indispensable significance in the development of miniaturized biosensors, the construction of biofuel cells and the fabrication of nanoscale electronic devices. • Weizmann Prof. Mordechai Heiblum is an international authority on experimental condensed matter and experimental quantum physics. While building and heading the Braun Center for Submicron Research at the Rehovot institute, he contributed to elevating experimental nanoscale physics in Israel to new heights. He was cited for his imaginative use of electron interferometry, the study of entanglement and controlled decoherence, and for the detection and confirmation of fractional charges of quasiparticles in the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect. • HU Prof. Etan Kohlberg has devoted his career to the study of medieval Islamic religious thought and literature and has given special attention to the Shi'a, and in a long series of articles has described and analyzed the main features of their belief and law. His unique contribution to the study of Islam has been recognized not only in the West, but also in the Islamic world, and a significant part of his work has been translated into Persian, Turkish and Arabic. • HU Prof. Moshe Bar-Asher will receive his prize for excellence in Jewish studies for his innovative and outstanding contribution to the study of Hebrew and Jewish languages. As the world's leading scholar in rabbinic (Mishnaic) Hebrew, he has established a new research agenda in his identification of separate language types in rabbinic Hebrew and elucidated important aspects of its grammar. He has also proposed unique methods of investigating the Hebrew element in the Judeo-Arabic of North African Jewry and of studying traditions and languages of the descendants of the Marranos in France. He also serves as president of the Hebrew Language Academy. The Rothschild Prizes Organization is comprised of eight members, representing the government, the Rothschild family, academic institutions and the Israel National Academy of Sciences and Humanities.