Canadian philanthropist boosts Israeli grad students

Azrieli Foundation aims at minimizing the "brain drain" of top Israeli graduate students.

ben gurion students 88 (photo credit: )
ben gurion students 88
(photo credit: )
Eleven Israeli students pursuing advanced degrees in the interdisciplinary and applied sciences, education, architecture and urban planning were awarded fellowships on Thursday night ranging between $21,500 and $28,500 each by the Azrieli Foundation. The Canadian philanthropic organization, established by real estate magnate David Azrieli, is aimed at minimizing the "brain drain" of top Israeli (and some non-Israeli) graduate students, and helping them to excel. The fellowships were distributed in a ceremony at Tel Aviv's Azrieli Center attended by the donor and Education Minister Yuli Tamir. The fellowships, which will help cover tuition, research expenses and travel to conferences, are meant for top students who are not employed and don't receive any additional income or living stipends. It gives them the necessary conditions to focus successfully and uninterruptedly on research. Azrieli, who owns numerous shopping malls and other properties around the country and the world, noted that in recent years budgetary constraints and a decrease in resources available to Israeli academics has led to the problem of how to keep the country's brightest young minds from leaving. The winners, who were chosen from among applicants by a top-flight selection committee in each field, were: Naama Elefant, studying for her MD and PhD at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the fields of molecular and computational biology, genomics and medicine, focusing on microRNAs and their effect on cellular and pathological processes. Haim Suchowsky, studying for his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, specializing in quantum coherent control of atoms and molecules with ultra-short laser pulses, aimed at the development of nanotech applications and non-invasive imaging technologies. Omri Barak, studying for his PhD at Weizmann in the field of computational neuroscience, focusing on modeling the neural mechanisms of working memory to better understand brain function. Jonathan Berant, studying for his PhD at Tel Aviv University's computer science department and doing research using algorithms and computational linguistics to discover how children naturally acquire knowledge. Tali Sadka, studying for her PhD at Weizmann and focusing on the behavior of genes and the way in which their transcription into mRNA is controlled. Tal Modai, studying for her MSc in architecture and urban planning at the Technion, focusing on strategic planning for satellite cities in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Shlomit Davidovitch, studying for her PhD at the Hebrew University, combining education and psychology to characterize the way people make decisions regarding their future careers. Aryeh (Arik) Segev, a high school teacher studying for a PhD in education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, focusing on moral education in secular Western societies and whether it can serve as a common anchor for moral education in general. Fatina Abreek-Zubiedat, studying for her MSc in architecture and urban planning at the Technion and focusing on the ethnographic and spatial patterns of minority communities and the role of informal planning in designing the image of a city or country. Spira Sprecher, studying for her MSc in architecture and urban design at the Technion, using psychoanalysis and social-political relations to study problems in the construction of urban spaces. Edna Langenthal, studying for her PhD in the philosophy of architecture at Tel Aviv University, using a phenomenological approach to study the concepts of being with others and applying the thought of the Jewish philosopher Levinas to the study of architecture.