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Tag: Honours & Awards

Tel Aviv University Honors Nine Remarkable Individuals with Honorary Degrees

The recipients were honoured for their profound impact on the world in an extraordinary ceremony at the University’s 2023 Board of Governor’s Meeting.

In a festive ceremony held during the 2023 Board of Governors Meeting, Tel Aviv University awarded honorary degrees to 9 individuals, all of whom have had an exceptionally positive impact on the world. The honorary degrees were awarded by the Chairwoman of TAU’s Board of Governors, Dafna Meitar-Nechmad, President Prof. Ariel Porat and Rector Prof. Mark Steif.


Recipients include Morris Kahn, entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of SpaceIL, who received the honour in recognition of his expansive philanthropic giving to causes including education, biomedical research, youth leadership, space exploration and the marine environment, as well as his commitment to Israeli science, as demonstrated through his generous support of diverse university- and hospital-based projects, including the 3D Cancer Printing Initiative at Tel Aviv University.


Other honorary degree recipients included Nobel Prize laureate Olga Tokarczuk, writer, activist and public intellectual, in recognition of her accomplishments as a world-renowned author and social activist, and her courageous efforts to secure Polish national recognition of crimes committed against Jews during the Second World War, as well as against refugees in the present day; Prof. Barbara Engelking, historian of Polish Jewry during the Holocaust, who was honoured in recognition of her pioneering contribution to Holocaust scholarship and her courageous determination to counter Holocaust distortion and expose the complexities of Polish-Jewish relations during the Second World War, regardless of personal cost.


Tamir Gilat was honoured for his heartfelt willingness, in his role as Chairman of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, to volunteer his time toward providing compassionate support to thousands of cancer sufferers and their families over the years; Sandra & Vlad Shmunis, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, received an honorary degree in recognition of their philanthropic spirit in supporting diverse important causes in Israel and the US through their family foundation, including Jewish values, young entrepreneurs, cancer research and Biblical archaeology.


WATCH: Highlights from the Honorary Degrees Conferment Ceremony, TAU’s Board of Governors Meeting 2023:


An honorary degree was also bestowed on Atallah Mansour in recognition of his immense contribution to civil, cultural, and democratic discourse in Israel over almost seven decades as a highly respected author and journalist; and on Prof. Antoine Compagnon, professor of French and comparative literature, College de France and Columbia University, who was honoured for his solidarity with the State of Israel during trying times, often in the face of public adversity.


Prof. Nicholas A. Peppas, chemical and biomedical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin, was awarded an honorary doctorate for his immeasurable influence as a leader and pacesetter in the fields of drug delivery, biomaterials and bio-nanotechnology over almost 50 years, as well as his interdisciplinary research approach, which blends molecular and cellular biology with materials engineering to produce next-generation biomedical systems and devices. Fellow scientist Prof. Pavel A. Pevzner, a computational biologist at University of California San Diego, was honoured for his standing as a world authority in computational biology and bioinformatics and his distinctive research approach that combines theoretical insights with the development of tools and practical applications for tackling real-world biological questions.


Finally, the George S. Wise Medal, the University’s highest honour, was awarded to Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies of Singapore, in recognition of his extraordinary public service record as an esteemed statesman and international economic leader.


Congratulations to all the recipients! Your accomplishments inspire us and make the world a better place.

Three TAU Professors Awarded Israel Prize 2023

Prof. Yoram Dinstein, Prof. Emanuel Peled and Prof. Avital Gasith are all recipients of the prestigious award.

Three TAU professors were awarded the Israel Prize in the fields of law, chemistry and environmental sciences research. The Israel Prize is the State of Israel’s highest cultural honor and is awarded annually in a public ceremony on Israel’s Independence Day.

The 2023 Award Recipients:

Prof. Yoram Dinstein, President of TAU from 1991 to 1999, has won the 2023 Israel Prize for legal research. Prof. Dinstein was recognized as one of the founding fathers of the field of international law in Israel. He served as Rector of TAU from 1980 to 1985 and as Dean of The Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University from 1978 to 1980, among numerous other academic, national and international leadership roles.

Prof. Emanuel Peled of the School of Chemistry at the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences has won the 2023 Israel Prize for chemistry research. He was recognized for his pioneering work in lithium batteries and fuel cells that has influenced the energy field all over the world. Among his many distinctions, Prof. Peled is the recipient of the Israel Chemical Society Outstanding Scientist Award for 2016 and is a Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry.

Prof. Avital Gasith of the School of Zoology at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences has won the 2023 Israel Prize for environmental sciences and sustainability research. The prize was awarded for his pioneering work in the protection of nature in Israel, especially freshwater aquatic systems, and his active civic involvement in promoting conservation. He was former Head of the Environmental Studies Master’s Program at the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

Dan David Prize Announces 2023 Winners

Nine emerging historians, archaeologists, curators and digital humanists will each receive $300,000 USD, in recognition of their breakthrough achievements in the study of the past.

The Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world, today announced its 2023 winners – nine emerging scholars and practitioners, whose work illuminates the past in bold and creative ways. Each of the winners – who work in Kenya, Ireland, Denmark, Israel, Canada and the United States – will receive $300,000 (USD) in recognition of their achievements and to support their future endeavors.

“Our winners represent the new generation of historians,” said Ariel David, board member of the Prize and son of the founder. “They are changing our understanding of the past by asking new questions, targeting under-researched topics and using innovative methods. Many of the winners we are recognizing today are still in the early stages of their careers, but they have already challenged how we think about history. Understanding the past, in all its complexity, is critical to illuminating the present and confronting the challenges of the future.”

The 2023 winners are listed below:

Saheed Aderinto (Photo: JC Photography, Miami)

Prof. Saheed Aderinto from Florida International University uses unusual lenses such as sexuality, guns, animals and music to reexamine colonial identity and subjecthood in modern Africa, with a particular focus on Nigeria (photo: JC Photography, Miami).

Ana Antic (photo: Zarko Ivetic)

Prof. Ana Antic from the University of Copenhagen is a social and cultural historian whose research focuses on the relationship between politics, violence and psychiatry in twentieth century Europe, as well as the decolonisation of psychiatric practices and concepts (photo: Zarko Ivetic).

Karma Ben Johanan (photo: Avigail Piperno-Beer)

Karma Ben Johanan, a senior lecturer from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, looks at the relationships between different religious traditions, most recently working on how the Catholic Church responded to Jews after the reconciliation attempts of Vatican II, and how orthodox Jewish thinkers have responded to the same developments (photo: Avigail Piperno-Beer)

Elise Burton (photo courtesy of Elise Burton)

Asst. Prof. Elise Burton from University of Toronto is a historian of science, race and nationalism in the modern Middle East, focusing on the history of genetics, physical anthropology, evolutionary biology and biomedicine (photo: courtesy of Elise Burton).

Adam Clulow: Photo courtesy of Adam Clulow

Prof. Adam Clulow from University of Texas at Austin is a global historian who reassesses power relations between Europe and East Asia, and uses video games and VR to make history accessible to both students and the wider public (photo: courtesy of Adam Clulow).

Krista Goff: Courtesy of Krista Goff

Asst. Prof. Krista Goff from University of Miami uses oral history and everyday sources to understand the experiences of understudied ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union, especially those not recognized as nationalities by the state (photo: Courtesy of Krista Goff). 

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers. Photo: Lily Cummings McCubbin

Prof. Stephanie Jones-Rogers explores women’s social, economic and legal relationships to enslaved people and to the slave trade in the trans-Atlantic world (photo: Lily Cummings McCubbin).

Anita Radini: Photo courtesy of Anita Radini

Asst. Prof. Anita Radini from University College, Dublin, is an “archaeologist of dirt” who analyzes the tiny remains of dust that collect in dental plaque, and uses them to learn about the work lives and environments of people in the past (photo: courtesty of Anita Radini).

Chao Tayiana Maina (photo: Lyra Aoko)

Chao Tayiana Maina is a public historian who uses digital technologies (she is the founder of African Digital Heritage) to capture and preserve previously hidden or suppressed historical narratives in Kenya, enabling communities to engage with their cultural heritage (photo: Lyra Aoko).


“We all share a past. We all shape the future”

“Insights about the past should circulate through every part of every community,” said Prof. Aviad Kleinberg, historian and Dan David Prize board member. “We all share a past. We all shape the future. Knowledge of the past – historical, not mythological – belongs to everyone. A culture that does not understand its past is like an individual with acute amnesia. Amnesia makes one bear the past’s consequences without awareness of it and without the power to escape it.”

The winners were selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by colleagues, institutions and the general public in an open nomination process. The finalists were chosen by a global committee of experts that changes annually. This year’s committee members were affiliated with a range of institutions including the universities of Cambridge, Paris, Pennsylvania and Seville. A full list of the 2023 committee is available here.

The Dan David Prize, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University, was first established in 2001 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David, to reward innovative and interdisciplinary work that contributed to humanity. In 2021, the Prize was relaunched with a focus on historical research, honoring the founder’s passion for history and archaeology. Today, the Prize rewards emerging scholars, aiming to help both academics and public historians fulfill their potential at a time when support for the humanities is dwindling.

The nine 2023 winners will be honored at the Dan David Prize Award Ceremony in Tel Aviv in May.

About the Dan David Prize

The Dan David Prize is the largest history prize in the world. Dan David, the founder of the Prize, believed that knowledge of the past enriches us and helps us grapple with the challenges of the present, and is a foundation for reimagining our collective future. At a time of diminishing support for the humanities, the Prize celebrates the next generation of outstanding historians, archaeologists, curators and digital humanists. Each year, up to nine researchers are awarded $300,000 each in recognition of their achievements and to support their future endeavors.

To learn more about Dan David, the Prize and the 2023 winners, visit

Prof. Karen Avraham Wins Prestigious FISEB STAR Award for Scientific Excellence and Leadership

The selection committee: “Her creative ideas, unwavering commitment and leadership have inspired many and set a benchmark for others.”

The Federation of all the Israel Societies for Experimental Biology (FISEB) announced that Prof. Karen Avraham, Dean of Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University is the winner of the STAR Award for Scientific Excellence and Leadership. The STAR Award is a prestigious award that recognizes outstanding scholars in biomedical research and is a testament to their dedication and contribution to advancing the academic community in Israel.

Exceptional Contributions with Significant Impact

The selection committee noted: “Prof. Karen Avraham’s contributions to the field have been truly exceptional and have significantly impacted the advancements of human genetics from basic concepts to innovative therapeutics. Her creative ideas, unwavering commitment and leadership have inspired many and set a benchmark for others.”

Prof. Karen Avraham, Dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine: “I am thrilled to receive this honor. There is nothing more significant than getting the recognition of your peers and colleagues. I have had tremendous opportunities to pursue my scientific research, leadership and mentoring in Israel for many years and I am very grateful for that.”


“Prof. Karen Avraham’s contributions to the field have been truly exceptional and have significantly impacted the advancements of human genetics from basic concepts to innovative therapeutics. Her creative ideas, unwavering commitment and leadership have inspired many and set a benchmark for others.” (The selection committee for the STAR Award)


Disease Genomics With Emphasis on Hearing Disorders

Prof. Avraham is recognized as one of Israel’s top scientists for her research that centers on disease genomics, with an emphasis on hearing disorders. Her team explores the genes responsible for hereditary hearing loss and implements new gene therapies to reverse deafness. Recently, she expanded her research to study rare genetic diseases including developmental delay, epilepsy and breathing disorders in children. She is a member of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry at the Faculty of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience.

For her scientific achievements, she has won numerous awards, including the Sir Bernard Katz Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany and the Michael Bruno Memorial Prize from the Rothschild Foundation (Yad Hanadiv), and she was recently awarded the Israel Science Foundation Breakthrough Research Grant.

In addition to her outstanding research achievements, she is the first woman to serve as the Dean of Sackler Faculty of Medicine at TAU. Prof. Avraham also served as founder and former director of the Healthy Longevity Research Center and the Aufzien Family Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and of the Taube-Koret Global Collaboration in Neurodegenerative Disease. She is the founder and director of the Biomed@TAU Research Hubs, which aim to bring together scientists and foster collaboration from across Tel Aviv University and affiliated hospitals that share overlapping research interests.

The Federation of all the Israel Societies for Experimental Biology (FISEB) is a federation of 34 Israeli societies of experimental biology, which was established in 1994 in order to promote scientific collaboration between members of the societies.

“Requiem for a Whale” Won Best Student Film Award at the IDA Documentary Awards Ceremony

Ido Weisman’s short documentary film won the award at the world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre.

“Requiem for a Whale”, a short documentary film by Ido Weisman, an alumnus of The Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of the Arts, won the best student film award at the IDA Awards Ceremony, considered the most prestigious award in the world of documentary films. The ceremony was held recently at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

The film also won the Israeli Documentary Forum Annual Awards in the same week.

“Requiem for a Whale”, which was produced as part of a Tisch School alumni project, was screened for the first time in June 2022 at the Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival, where it took second place and won the cinematography award in the student competition. Since then it has been screened at the Brisbane International Film Festival and at the DOC NYC festival (both in November 2022).

The film’s plot centers on a stormy night in early 2021, when a whale’s body is washed ashore at Nitzanim Beach in Israel. During the documentation of the encounters between people and the carcass, the viewer hears from several witnesses, who are reflecting on their impressions of the rare event. From the fabric of responses, a collective experience forms, addressing the dialogue between life and death.

Docaviv Film Festival judges commented that the film won second place “for finding beauty and meaning in a bleak corner of reality these days. For the ability to take a news story and turn it into a poetic cinematic piece on life and death and about the cruel encounter between humans and their environment.” The cinematography award went to Weisman “for smart and precise photography that takes the film to poetic places and adds deep layers to the story.”

Featured image: Ido Weisman on the red carpet (Photo: private collection)

The “Nobel of Mathematics”: TAU Prof. Noga Alon Wins the Prestigious Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences

The second Israeli in history to receive the prize.

Prof. Noga Alon of Tel Aviv University and Princeton University has won the 2002 Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences. Prof. Alon, one of the world’s leading researchers in mathematics and computer science, is the second Israeli in history to receive the prestigious prize.

Noga Alon, born in 1956, is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science at Tel Aviv University and Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University. Prof. Alon joined Tel Aviv University in 1985, where he served as head of the School of Mathematical Sciences and was entrusted with the Chair of Combinatorics and Computer Science at TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Academia Europaea. In the past, he has won the Israel Prize, the EMET Prize, Gödel Prize and the Steele Prize.

The Shaw Prize was awarded to Prof. Alon for the entirety of his groundbreaking work, which has included laying the foundations for streaming algorithms used in Big Data analysis and the development of algebraic and probabilistic methods to deal with problems in graph theory and additive number theory. “[Noga Alon] introduced new methods and achieved fundamental results which entirely shaped the field,” the judges wrote.

Equivalent to the Nobel

The Shaw Prize was founded in 2002 by Hong Kong media tycoon Run Run Shaw, who decided to award it annually to “individuals, regardless of race, nationality, gender and religious belief, who have recently achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research or applications and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind,” in three categories – mathematics, astronomy, and life sciences and medicine. The prize in each category is $1.2 million.

“Because there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics, there are two prizes, the Abel Prize and the Shaw Prize, which see themselves as equivalent to the Nobel in this field,” explains Prof. Alon. “Obviously, as with any other award, winning depends on various factors, including the composition of the committee, and perhaps ultimately it’s also a matter of luck – because there are certainly quite a few researchers in the world who are deserving of this award. For me, this is a very pleasant surprise; the list of previous winners of the Shaw Prize is really very impressive.”

“Israel is a country that is very strong in the sciences in general, and in mathematics and computer science in particular,” says Prof. Alon. “The global standing of Israeli research in these fields far exceeds the relative size of the population. My own research focuses on combinatorics, which is the mathematics of finite structures, with uses and applications in computer science, additive number theory, combinatorial geometry and other related fields.”

“Prof. Noga Alon  has been one of the most influential and prolific scientists in the field for the past decades,” says Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences, Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences,Yaron Ostrover. “His research is characterized by originality, an exceptional ability to solve difficult problems, often using an impressive variety of tools and methods. In addition to his outstanding scientific achievements, Prof. Alon has established a long line of outstanding students who have become leading researchers in mathematics and computer science in their own right, and hold positions at prestigious research universities in Israel and abroad.”

In 2020, the Shaw Prize was awarded to Prof. David Kashdan of the Hebrew University, and this year Prof. Alon shares the prize with another Israeli – Prof. Ehud Hrushovski of Oxford.

Featured image: Prof. Noga Alon (photo: Wikipedia)

BOG 2022: Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research Presented to Four TAU Scholars

8th annual Kadar Award ceremony honors excellence in science and teaching.

In recognition of their trailblazing academic work, the 2022 Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research was presented to four Tel Aviv University scholars: Prof. Michal Feldman (Exact Sciences), Prof. Leo Corry (Humanities), Prof. Jonathan Berant (Exact Sciences) and Dr. Roy Tzohar (Humanities).  

Now in its eighth year, the Kadar Family Award honors pioneering scientists and scholars who have reached the highest levels of excellence in both research and teaching. The Award is granted annually to four TAU researchers, two senior and two junior faculty members, from across the entire spectrum of faculties and disciplines at TAU.   

The Award Committee selects the winners based on a number of criteria including: groundbreaking research; teaching quality; research grants earned from competitive foundations; quality and quantity of scientific publications; and their status in the global scientific community.  

Prof. Dan Peer, TAU Vice President for Research and Development, conferred the awards to the recipients at a festive ceremony, which also included presentations of the researchers’ work, during TAU’s 2022 Board of Governors meeting. 

Professor Corry spoke on behalf of the recipients and noted that while scientific advancements in TAU’s hard science faculties are globally recognized, “One important aspect of this award is in the explicit acknowledgment that a great university, like ours, promotes not only one kind of achievement, but also excellence in the humanities and social sciences. 

“Precisely in an era of deep technological and scientific change…the study of the humanities is more relevant and necessary than ever before to help interpret and place new context on how these changes are affecting us as a society and individually,” he said.  

The Naomi Foundation established the Award in 2015 to honor the memory of Naomi Prawer Kadar PhD, a lifelong Yiddish specialist and the late wife of TAU benefactor Dr. Avraham Kadar, a TAU graduate, physician, educator and innovator. The three Kadar children, Einat Kadar Kricheli, Nadav Kadar, and Maya Kadar Kovalsky, are all TAU alumni and active board members of the Kadar Foundation along with their father. Avraham, Nadav and Maya are also members of TAU’s Board of Governors.  

Maya Kadar Kovalsky opened the ceremony and welcomed everyone via a recorded message.  She lauded the laureates: “Congratulations…on reaching this high level of distinction and thank you for your pathbreaking contributions in your respective fields.” 

TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat also addressed the crowd; “The Kadar Foundation does an excellent job in advancing academic research and excellence,” he said, noting other programs the Foundation supports such as MD-PhD scholarships and the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish Summer Program, housed in TAU’s Goldreich Family Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at the Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities


The 2022 Kadar Family Award recipients: 


Prof. Michal Feldman – Professor of Computer Science at the Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Raymond and Beverly Faculty of Exact Sciences. She is one of the most visible and successful researchers of her generation working in the rapidly emerging field of algorithmic game theory, which is situated at the intersection of theoretical computer science and economics. She is also a trailblazer in the field, where women are significantly underrepresented.  




Prof. Leo Corry – Professor at the Cohn Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities, and former Dean of Humanities. Corry is a historian of mathematics. His research explores the historical development of some of the main threads of twentieth-century mathematics, such as the rise of modern algebra and the development of the idea of a mathematical structure. Since 2013, he has held the Bert and Barbara Cohn Chair for History and Philosophy of Exact Sciences. 




Prof. Jonathan Berant – Associate Professor at the Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Raymond and Beverly Faculty of Exact Sciences. His research examines Natural Language Processing (NLP), which stands at the crossroads between linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence.  




Dr. Roy Tzohar – Associate Professor at the Department of South and East Asian Studies, Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities. His research, publications, and teaching are driven primarily by an interest in the Buddhist philosophical understanding of the role and function of language. His first book, A Yogācāra Buddhist Theory of Metaphor, was published by Oxford University Press and won the Numata Prize for the best book in Buddhist Studies in 2018. 


Featured image: The 2022 Kadar Family Award recipients from left: Prof. Jonathan Berant, Dr. Roy Tzohar, Prof. Michal Feldman, and Prof. Leo Corry. (Photo: Israel Hadari)

Blavatnik Prizes for Computer Science Awarded to Doctoral Fellows

TAU hosts annual ceremony recognizing standout research in growing field.

The second annual Blavatnik Prizes for Outstanding Israeli Doctoral Students in Computer Science were awarded on June 8 to four recipients, in a ceremony at Tel Aviv University. 

With generous funding from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Prizes were established to highlight excellent research by Israeli PhD candidates in the field of computer science and emphasize the importance of doctoral studies in general.  


The 2022 recipients were:

  • Nave Frost of Tel Aviv University
  • Gal Yona of the Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Assaf Shocher of the Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Leshem Choshen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Honorable mention went to:

  • Hagai Rossman of the Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Elad Romanov the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Gilad Yehudai of the Weizmann Institute of Science
  • Lior Rotem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Among the ceremony attendees was British-American industrialist and philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik (Len Blavatnik), for whom the Prizes are named. The Prize is among the latest programs backed by the longtime TAU benefactor and dedicated supporter of science, innovation and higher education in Israel.  

Forefront of the Computer Science Revolution 

“Israel is at the forefront of the ongoing computer science revolution that increasingly affects everyday lives around the world,” said Sir Leonard Blavatnik. “As such, it is vital to amplify the academic achievement of emerging trailblazers, who are poised to become future leaders and innovators in academia and industry.” 

Sir Leonard Blavatnik, a TAU Governor and Honorary Doctor, has a transformative legacy of giving at TAU, which began over a decade ago with backing for scholarships and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science. From there, his Foundation pledged sizeable gifts to establish the Blavatnik Initiative, a multi-year program in the fields of computing, cyber, drug development, film production, and faculty recruitment. Key programs benefited by the Initiative include the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery and Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center.  

The Prizes are conferred at TAU by the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences and the School’s Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund for high-impact areas that contribute to Israel’s economic prosperity. As computer science becomes increasingly central to life today, the Blavatnik School of Computer Science plays a cutting-edge role in TAU’s academic achievements and real-world contributions advancing innovation. Graduates fill leading positions in high-tech companies, Israel’s defense establishment and defense industries, and academic institutions worldwide. 

New Avenues for Excellence

TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat welcomed Sir Leonard Blavatnik to campus in front of a packed auditorium at the state-of-the-art Check Point Building: “Again and again, Sir Leonard Blavatnik has demonstrated his heartfelt commitment to nurturing the next generation of outstanding young scientists and creators – at TAU, in Israel and globally. We at Tel Aviv University are grateful for his support and friendship that is felt throughout the campus, and that is opening new avenues for excellence in crucial fields.” 

Prof. Sivan Toledo, Head of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University, who moderated the event said: “Israeli PhD fellows in computer science contribute immensely to research and teaching that move the field forward. Sir Leonard Blavatnik and his considerable contributions play an immeasurable role in propelling them to new frontiers. The Blavatnik Prizes celebrate the achievements of the best of these PhD students, and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science is honored to award these prizes for the second time.” 

A jury of computer science experts from Israeli universities including TAU, the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem select winners from a pool of doctoral students and recent PhD recipients from all Israeli universities.   

Also on June 8, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel were awarded in a separate evening ceremony held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. The Awards recognize the country’s most promising faculty-rank (academic staff) researchers in life sciences, physical sciences & engineering, and chemistry. The Blavatnik Family Foundation funds the Awards, which are co-administered by the New York Academy of Sciences and The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. To date, two outstanding TAU scientists, Prof. Oded Rechavi of the School of Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Prof. Yossi Yovel of the School of Zoology, have been Blavatnik Award laureates.  

Prof. Ehud Gazit – First Israeli to Receive Prestigious International Recognition in Chemistry

Selected as International Solvay Chair in Chemistry for 2023.

Prof. Ehud Gazit from The Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and The Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering, was selected as the International Solvay Chair in Chemistry for 2023. Prof. Gazit, who also heads TAU’s Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery, is the first Israeli to receive this annually awarded honor and the first scientist to be appointed to the position outside of the United States and Europe. 

 Joining 15 Other World Top Scientists

The Solvay International Institute was founded in Belgium about a century ago and is designed to develop and support creative and groundbreaking research in physics, chemistry and related fields, in order to increase and deepen the understanding of natural phenomena. The Institute organizes annual conferences on physics and chemistry, as well as international workshops for the training of doctoral students and selected topics. 

As part of Gazit’s new appointment, he will spend a month or two in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, during which he will give lectures on his field of research. The prestigious nomination has previously been awarded to 15 of the world’s top scientists, including three Nobel laureates in chemistry, the Wolf Prize winner and laureates of other prestigious awards, all from leading institutions in the US and Europe, who are now joined by Gazit. 

Gazit is a biophysicist, biochemist and nanotechnologist. His main area of expertise is “Solid State Biology”, an innovative field of study that combines disciplines from physics, chemistry, synthetic and structural biology and materials engineering. He is a world-renowned expert in nanotechnology and biological chemistry, a highly cited researcher who has published more than 350 scientific articles and inventor of more than 100 patents.

Previously, he served as Vice President for Research and Development of the University, as the Chairman of Ramot, Tel Aviv University’s Tech Transfer Company, and as the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology. 

Over the years, Gazit has won a number of prestigious awards and prizes in Israel and around the world, including The Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research, the Landau Prize in Science and Arts and the Rapaport Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK, a Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in India and a Member of the European Organization for Molecular Biology.  

Gazit stated: “I thank the Solvay Institute for selecting me, a great honor and excitement for me. It is a great privilege for me to join such a prestigious and impressive list of leading researchers. Today I am reminded of the former President of Israel, Prof. Ephraim Katzir, one of Israel’s greatest scientists, and of whom I am one of his academic ‘great grandchildren’ and who organized the Solvay Institute’s Chemistry Conference about 40 years ago. Apart from the personal honor, I am happy and proud to represent Tel Aviv University and the State of Israel in this appointment.”

The New Dan David Prize Announces Inaugural Cohort of Winners

Nine outstanding scholars and practitioners of history to receive $300,000 each in recognition of breakthrough achievements in the study of the past.

The Dan David Prize, the world’s largest history prize, has announced its first cohort of winners, which includes a historian who investigates the environmental impact of big business, a researcher who uncovers Jewish hiding places during the Holocaust and the founder of a mobile museum of African heritage. The Prize recognizes early and mid-career scholars and practitioners who illuminate the human past in bold and creative ways, and awards nine winners $300,000 each to help further their work. 

The 2022 winners cover a wide range of historical disciplines – from bioarchaeology to medieval studies to modern U.S. history. They are unlocking the secrets held by human remains and medieval manuscripts, uncovering forgotten legal cases from the American South and revealing echoes of Ethiopian global power. They are experimenting with new ways of imagining museums, rewriting the story of the world’s most popular soft-drink and tracing the little-known history of African-American philanthropy. 

The 2022 winners are listed below:

                     ​      Mirjam Brusius is a cultural historian who studies visual and material culture in global and colonial contexts. She investigates how objects made their way into the major museums and collections, and what happened to them there. Through the “100 Histories in 100 Worlds in 1 Object” project she uncovers what meanings museum objects hold for the people in the places where they were initially taken. Brusius is currently a Research Fellow in Global and Colonial History at the German Historical Institute in London, where she is completing a book on the movement of ancient artifacts from the Middle East into Western museums. 
 Bart Elmore is an environmental historian who uses everyday products – from sodas to seeds – to demonstrate how large multinational firms have reshaped global ecosystems. In addition to uncovering the environmental impacts of capitalism, he invites us to draw on the past to find strategies for developing an ecologically healthier economy for the future. Elmore is an Associate Professor of Environmental History at Ohio State University and the author of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism and Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future.   

Tyrone Freeman is a historian of philanthropy who researches African-American charitable giving and activism. His work invites us to rethink traditional views of philanthropy as an arena reserved for wealthy elites, and to reconsider what philanthropy is and who can engage in it, as well as how African-American communities are understood and represented. Freeman is an Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and author of Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow.

Verena Krebs is a cultural historian who draws on material culture and art, alongside written sources, to uncover the complex relationship between Ethiopia and Western Christendom. Her work overturns traditional narratives of European-African relations, and paints a vivid picture of medieval Ethiopia at the height of its power. Krebs is a W1 professor of “Medieval Cultural Realms and their Entanglements” at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and is the author of Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy.
Efthymia Nikita is an osteoarchaeologist who uses a wide range of innovative methods to unlock what human skeletal remains reveal about the health, diets and mobility of ancient peoples. Her work reanimates the everyday lives of those – such as slaves or women – excluded from written sources and reveals the long history of migration in the Mediterranean world. Nikita is an Assistant Professor in Bioarchaeology at the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC) at the Cyprus Institute and is the author of a textbook on osteoarchaeology.

 Nana Oforiatta Ayim is a curator, writer, filmmaker and public historian whose work recenters African narratives, institutions and cultural expressions in telling the past. She established the pan-African Cultural Encyclopedia, an open-source archive of African arts, and has developed a Mobile Museum that draws on local traditions of knowledge and display as it travels across Ghana. Oforiatta Ayim is the director of the ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge in Accra, Ghana, and author of The God Child.

Kristina Richardson is a social and cultural historian of the medieval Islamic world. Working with understudied manuscripts, she focuses attention on non-elites and marginalized groups, from Roma printers to free and unfree African and Asian laborers. Richardson is an Associate Professor of history at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center and the author of Difference and Disability in the Medieval Islamic World , Roma in the Medieval Islamic World: Literacy, Culture, and Migration.
Natalia Romik is a public historian, architect and curator whose work focuses on Jewish memory and commemoration of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, especially Poland and Ukraine. She created the Nomadic Shtetl Archive Project, which engages local communities in remembering Jewish history. Her work draws attention to often-overlooked sites of Jewish and Holocaust history, with a focus on uncovering and preserving Jewish wartime hiding places. Romik is a postdoctoral fellow at the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah in Paris.
Kimberly Welch uses endangered local legal archives from the antebellum American South to explore lawsuits brought by free and enslaved Black people. Her work reveals a new picture of the agency of African-Americans in the Antebellum era and recounts their active role in society and the economy. Welch is an Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and author of Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South. She is working on a book that examines free Black moneylenders and their involvement in the credit economy of the early modern Atlantic world.

Moving History Forward

“These nine winners represent the innovation and energy that move the historical disciplines forward. Their work is at once a testament to the power of research and expertise, and to the ways knowledge of the past can enrich our understanding of the present,” said Prof. Katherine E. Fleming, Provost of New York University and member of the Dan David Prize board.

The recently redesigned prize attracted hundreds of nominations from around the world and the nine winners were chosen following a rigorous selection process by a committee of eminent scholars in a wide range of historical fields.

The Prize, endowed by the Dan David Foundation and headquartered at Tel Aviv University, was established in 2001 by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David. Initially dedicated to recognizing achievements in rotating disciplines of the sciences and the humanities, the Prize was redesigned in 2021 ahead of its 20th anniversary.

“We live in a world in which the humanities, and particularly history, are devalued and attract less investment, even as it remains clear that only by deepening our knowledge of the past we can gain a better understanding of the present,” said Ariel David, board member of Prize and son of the founder. “For this reason we have chosen to focus exclusively on the historical disciplines and support emerging scholars and practitioners, within and beyond the academy, at a stage in their career when the Prize can make a bigger impact.” 

“If you are a person who believes history can make a difference in the world, this prize is an affirmation of that,” said Bart Elmore, environmental historian and recipient of one of this year’s prizes.

The nine winners will be honored at the 2022 Dan David Prize Award Ceremony in Tel Aviv in May.

Learn more about Dan David, the Prize and the 2022 winners:


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