ScienceAbroad to hold first online symposium

Israeli talents living abroad will present their findings to 300 scientists here.

Dr Raz Bar-Ziv (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dr Raz Bar-Ziv
(photo credit: Courtesy)
ScienceAbroad is active in seven countries and 32 centers and has accumulated 4,500 members in its 15 years of operation. Yet its December 1 online conference is the first time a Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Ada Yonath, signed up as a listener.
Yonath, who won the prize in 2009, is famous for her pioneering work on the ribosome and is one of the 300 scientists eager to see what young post-doctoral students around the world are busy exploring at the Life Sciences Symposium, funded by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry and Teva. Now needed more than ever as COVID-19 shattered the old academic world of real-world conferences.
Scientists spend a lot of time on their research, so real-world events are a much-needed chance to meet people outside their specific circle of co-workers.
If completing a PhD gives one the tools to study a topic, such as ribosome, a post-doctorate is a chance to take these tools and solve a whole new question.
This means that, as time passes, scientists lose touch with their alma maters and, as a result, have a hard time hearing about opportunities to use such tools back home.
Science is not a linear process, with talented hard-working people eventually reaching a tight social group of like-minded people who exchange ideas. It’s a dynamic field with competition, uncertainty, and at times – not knowing where the next solution might come from.
Dr. Raz Bar-Ziv, currently researching the impact mitochondrion stress has on the cell’s aging process, began to volunteer at ScienceAbroad a year and a half ago. At the time, he didn’t know Dr. Tal Pecht at Bonn University (Rhineland). Only when COVID-19 disrupted the normal activity of the Berkley ScienceAbroad group did the two of them have an online meeting and decided to organize an academic conference.
“We connected the old expression, ‘each crisis is a chance to grow,’ to the new situation on the ground,” ScienceAbroad CEO Nadav Douani told The Jerusalem Post. “Our center in Australia opened seven months ago. Thanks to this policy, we had a webinar there open to all Israeli scientists on that continent.”
The upcoming symposium is a much needed step.
Douani is clear that ScienceAbroad might have started out with the name Bio-Abroad, but now “we help every scientist with a blue ID, no matter what their post-doc is at, education or geology.”
Pecht, who studies the human immune system and how it can morph when people change their lifestyle by moving from the countryside to a large urban space, stressed that the online event is vital.
ScienceAbroad “gives us, the post-doc students who went overseas as part of the demand to be accepted [later] by the academia back home, the feeling we weren’t forgotten.”
Israel produces a great deal of scientific talents, and doing a post-doc at a top university abroad improves the odds of being given a lab of one’s own to do research in Israel in the future.
Some decide to take up residency where work can be had and not return home at all, leading many to worry about a “brain drain.”
The online event will include a variety of topics, from the possible next generation of COVID-19 immunities to how wheat defends itself from pests.
It will air on the ScienceAbroad site: