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Eight Outstanding Doctoral Students Received Prestigious Adams Fellowships of the Israel Academy for the Academic Year 2017-2018

The Ruth Arnon Postdoctoral Fellowship Were Awarded to an Alumna of the Program
10/07/2017
Eight outstanding doctoral students recieved the prestigious Adams Fellowship for Doctoral Students of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Each student will receive over $100,000 for up to 4 years of their doctoral studies ($30,000 a year), in addition to exemption from tuition.
 
The fellowships were awarded on Thusday, July 6, 2017 in a yearly ceremony at the Academy House in Jerusalem at the Annual Adams Seminar. This year the guest speaker was Prof. Menahem Yaari, former Academy President and Professor of economics, who lectured on "Justice and the Market". The daughter and son of Marcel Adams, founder of the fellowship program, Linda Adams-Troy and Sylvan Adams, presented the fellowships on behalf of their father. Prof. Nili Cohen, the Academy President, Prof. Ruth Arnon, the Immediate Past President and Prof. Moti Segev, Chair of the Adams Fellowship Program, delivered greetings.
 
Prof. Nili Cohen, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences, says that "the meticulous screening process of the universities and the Academy's professional committee for the program ensure that the awardees, this 13th consecutive year, represent the pinnacle of the State of Israel's future researchers in the fields of the sciences, mathematics, computer science, life sciences and engineering."
 
Prof. Cohen emphasizes that the alumnae of the fellowship program go abroad for postdoctoral training in the world most esteemed universities. She said, "We are proud of the fact that out of 92 graduates of the program, to date 30 has been recruited to faculty positions in Israel's universities, 2 are conducting research at Beilinson Hospital, 13 are in high-tech or bio-tech companies and 4 are in postdoctoral positions in Israel. The Adams family's foundation's investment in these young, talented scientists is bearing fruit and guarantees the future of science in Israel."
 
Mr. Marcel Adams of Canada established the fellowship fund in his name at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2005 and to date 103 young and promising Israeli researchers were granted the prestigious fellowships.
 
THE ACADEMY CONGRATULATES THE 13TH CLASS OF ADAMS FELLOWS:
 
Mr. Leon Anavy, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Mr. Ivgeniy Boyko, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Mr. Shachar Carmeli, Weizmann Institute of Science
Mr. Tuvia Gefen, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ms. Bracha Laufer-Goldshtein, Bar-Ilan University
Mr. Ofer Neufels, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Ms. Inbal Oz, Tel Aviv University
Mr. Or Yair, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
 
Leon Anavy, Computer Science, The Technion
Leon Anavy was born and raised in Neot Hakikar, a small agricultural village just south of the Dead Sea. From a young age, he was fascinated by the miraculous technology in use on his father’s farm, which turned the barren Negev desert into fertile land that yielded exceptional produce. After three years of army service in an intelligence corps technological unit, followed by a short period in the high-tech industry, Leon started his studies at the Technion. He completed his BSc in industrial engineering and management summa cum laude and continued for an MSc in computational biology. Under the supervision of Prof. Itai Yanai of the Technion’s Biology Department, he developed computational tools and methods for the analysis of high throughput developmental gene expression datasets. He presented the work at international conferences and published in Development. Together with Dr. Michal Levin, Leon led a world-wide collaborative project for the generation of a developmental gene expression atlas for species spanning the animal kingdom and discovered novel evolutionary constraints on animal development. This study was published in Nature.
 
Today, Leon is studying for a PhD in computer science, under the supervision of Prof. Zohar Yakhini. His work focuses on computational tools and methods used in synthetic biology. One such project involves the use of DNA molecules to store digital information for long-term archiving. Other aspects of his work address the use of synthetic DNA in studying regulatory mechanisms in living cells, including the sequence determinants of promoter activity and of noncoding RNA. Leon is also involved in teaching and other academic activities. He has been a senior teaching assistant the Technion’s course in data mining for the past 6 years, and he is involved in the the institute’s data science program. He is also a board member of the Technion Teaching Staff Organization.
 
Evgeniy Boyko, Mechanical Engineering, The Technion
Born in Irkutsk (Siberia), Russia, Evgeniy Boyko immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of 12. From a young age, he was attracted to the world of science and engineering, leading him to pursue physics and mathematics in high school. During his military service in the IDF, Evgeniy served as a combat soldier in the infantry and received the Central Command’s Excellence Award in counterterrorism.
 
Shortly after completing his military service, Evgeniy began his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at the Technion in the framework of the Re‘amim excellence program. During his final year of undergraduate studies, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 2015, he joined the research groups of Prof. Moran Bercovici and Prof. Amir Gat, who encouraged him to begin his MSc studies in parallel with his last undergraduate semester. After one semester, Evgeniy was accepted to the direct PhD track.
 
Evgeniy’s theoretical research focuses on understanding the interactions between viscous fluid flow, electric forces, and elasticity. In particular, he is interested in fluid-structure interaction at the micro-scale, where electrokinetic forces can serve as powerful mechanisms to achieve desired deformations, and ultimately – configurable microstructures. He works closely with experimentalists to translate these theoretical ideas into practice. In parallel with his research work, Evgeniy enjoys teaching and serves as the lead teaching assistant in several fluid dynamics courses.
 
Shachar Carmeli, Mathematics, Weizmann Institute
Shachar Carmeli was born in Mitzpe Abirim in the Western Galilee. He began his undergraduate studies
at 16 at the Open University of Israel, during high school. After high school he postponed his military
service to volunteer for a year with the youth movement Bnei Hamoshavim. Shachar finished his BSc in mathematics at Tel-Aviv University in the Arazim program, an Atuda (deferred military service)program for outstanding students in mathematics and computer science. During his studies he both participated in the International Mathematical Competition (IMC) and helped train the Israeli team for the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Since then, he has remained involved in training the teams for the IMO.
 
Shachar served in the military for over 5 years in a technological unit and commanded a research team in the last year of his service. He completed his MSc at the Weizmann Institute of Science during his military service. His supervisor for his MSc thesis and his PhD. studies is Dr. Dmitry Gourevitch, with whom he worked on verifying the stability and Gelfand property of symmetric pairs. He is currently studying invariant distributions on algebraic manifolds for actions of algebraic groups.
 
Tuvia Gefen, Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Born and raised in Rehovot, Tuvia was drawn to philosophy and physics from a young age. During his army service he started taking courses in mathematics at the Open University of Israel. Later on he completed his BSc in mathematics and physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the interdisciplinary Amirim honors program. The surprising and deep consequences of quantum physics, as well as its mathematical elegance, convinced him to go deeper into physics and continue for an MSc. He then joined Alex Retzker’s group, where he was exposed to the relatively young field of quantum information and technologies. The fundamental challenges in creating this new kind of technology fascinated him.
 
During his MSc studies, Tuvia investigated the theoretical possibility of improving precision measurements by incorporating quantum error correction. That project led to the publication of two different protocols and stimulated his interest in quantum sensing. Tuvia is currently a PhD student in Retzker’s group. His research is focused, for now, on several topics in quantum sensing, in particular the theory of spectroscopy with quantum sensors. Finding optimal protocols for this problem may considerably increase the efficiency of imaging methods, with large impacts on chemistry, biology and medicine. In a broader context, he is interested in general bounds in quantum metrology and their relevance to different applications. Working closely with experimentalists, he hopes to find novel schemes applicable within stateof-the-art technology.
 
Bracha Laufer-Goldshtein, Electrical Engineering, Bar-Ilan University
Bracha Laufer-Goldshtein had always been fascinated by science, technology, mathematics and physics, and she therefore chose the multidisciplinary field of electrical engineering for her academic studies. She won the Rector’s and Dean’s Prizes for outstanding undergraduate students at Bar-Ilan University in every year of her BSc studies and graduated summa cum laude, first in her class. She won the award of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space for promoting women in science. Bracha is continuing her studies at Bar-Ilan in the direct PhD track . She completed her MSc studies cum laude and was again first in her class. Under the joint supervision of Prof. Sharon Gannot (Bar-Ilan) and Prof. Ronen Talmon (Technion), she is investigating novel approaches to acoustic signal analysis and processing using geometric learning. In particular, she develops methods for source localization and array processing based on multiple microphone recordings, in adverse challenging noise and reverberation conditions. Bracha’s work emphasizes both theoretical depth and practical relevance, envisioning applications in human-car communication, hearing aids, and smart homes for the benefit of elderly people.
 
The initial results of her research have been published in two papers in a leading journal in signal processing and in five international conference papers. In parallel with her research work, Bracha is a well-appreciated teaching assistant in undergraduate courses on signal processing and logical circuits, for which she gained high scores in teaching assessment surveys.
 
Ofer Neufeld, Physics, The Technion
Raised in Haifa, Ofer has always been fascinated with the physical sciences. Following the completion of his army service as a tank commander, his passion for science led him to a dual degree undergraduate program in physics and material science at the Technion. His interest in research and theory began with a project during his BSc studies, of modeling processes that occur in organic photovoltaics used for renewable energy. After graduating summa cum laude for both degrees, he enrolled in the Grand Technion Energy Program for MSc studies under the supervision of Prof. Maytal Toroker. His thesis explored theoretical methods for improving photoelectrochemical cells for the production of hydrogen fuel from solar energy, and it yielded several publications in leading journals.
 
Upon completing his MSc summa cum laude, Ofer moved to the Technion’s Physics Department, where he is currently working toward his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Oren Cohen in the Extreme Nonlinear Optics Group. His research explores the fundamental processes that occur when intense laser fields interact with matter. Specifically, Ofer’s research attempts to understand how symmetries of laser fields and matter affect the nonlinear process of high harmonic generation, and how they can be used to control the spectral properties of EUV and X-ray radiation. While carrying out his research, Ofer is also serving as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in the Technion’s Math and Physics Departments. He hopes to continue working on challenging and interesting physics.
 
Inbal Oz, Computational Chemistry, Tel Aviv University
Inbal was born in Haifa, Israel, and spent three years in France during her elementary school years. After serving in the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit, she began studying for her BA in chemistry at Tel-Aviv University, in the Research Program for Outstanding Students. As an undergraduate, Inbal worked on diverse research projects, experimental as well as theoretical, in the fields of classical physical chemistry, quantum physical chemistry and biophysics. After receiving the Rector’s Award and the Dean’s Prize for outstanding undergraduate students for every year of her BA studies, she graduated summa cum laude and first in her class.
 
Inbal is currently studying in the university’s direct PhD program under the supervision of Prof. Hod and Prof. Nitzan. Her research in computational quantum chemistry focuses on developing a thermodynamic description of nanoscale systems out of equilibrium, where dynamic quantum effects dominate. The calculation schemes require a construction of a theoretical framework as well as a numerical platform for simulations of nanoscale nonequilibrium thermodynamic processes. Once developed, such a description is likely to reveal new, unexplored quantum physical phenomena. Inbal has presented her research at numerous conferences in Israel and abroad.
 
As a teaching assistant, Inbal received the Rector’s Award for excellence in teaching. She has lectured at the Dov Lautman Unit for Science-Oriented Youth and currently serves as a member of TAU’s PhD Students Committee, with the aim of increasing the number of women in graduate school, at the post-doctoral level and in the academy.
 
Or Yair, Electrical Engineering, The Technion
Or Yair was born in 1988 and grew up in Givat-Ela in Emek Yizrael. In 2011, following five years of service in the IDF, he began studying electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He received his BSc summa cum laude in 2015 and is now studying for his PhD at the Technion. From 2012 to 2015, Or worked in the field of image processing and algorithms as well as in software development.
 
His current principal areas of interest include signal processing, machine learning and geometric methods. Since 2015 he has been a teaching assistant in signals and image processing courses with the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion.
 
Or received the Meyer Fellowship and Zipers Award for 2015, the Diane and Leonard Sherman Interdisciplinary Fellowship for 2016, and the Jacobs Award for 2017.
 
THE RUTH ARNON POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP 
 
THE RUTH ARNON POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP were presented this year for the second time. Prof. Ruth Arnon, Immediate Past President of the Academy presented the fellowship for 2017-2018 to Dr. Sharon Fleischer, an Adams Alumna.
 
Sharon Fleisher, Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel Aviv University
Nowadays, the only cure for patients who survive end-stage heart failure is a heart transplant. As cardiac donors are scarce, there is an urgent need to develop new strategies to repair the diseased heart. One of the most promising strategies today is cardiac tissue engineering, in which cells are seeded within biomaterials to promote the assembly of functional cardiac patches. Currently, scientists in the field are still facing a few key challenges before these tissues can be used clinically. One of the most critical is that the biomaterials widely used today do not recapitulate the cardiac microenvironment. In-vivo, cells reside within a complex microenvironment that provides them with cues to guide their organization into functional tissues. In my PhD, one of Sharon's aims was to overcome this challenge and recapitulate this process in-vitro.
 
Sharon developed novel biomaterials and fabrication techniques to synthetically mimic different aspects of the cardiac microenvironment. She demonstrated the tremendous potential of these biomimetic biomaterials by showing their ability to promote the assembly of individual cardiac cells into functional heart tissues, which were able spontaneously to generate pump function. In addition, Sharon developed an entirely new platform for the bottom-up assembly of 3D cardiac tissues. This platform enabled the generation of mm-thick cardiac tissues that could be used for transplantation in humans. These were incorporated with a rationally designed built-in vascular network and a controlled-release system of drugs to improve their integration into the heart muscle after transplantation. In-vivo experiments have shown the tremendous potential of these cardiac patches to repair heart tissue damage.
Sharon's findings helped advance the field of cardiac tissue engineering toward clinical translation. Moreover, lessons learned from her research could also be utilized to advance other engineered tissues, such as liver, lung and spinal cord tissues.
 
Sharon plans to move this summer with her husband to New York City, where I will join Prof. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic’s lab at Columbia University. During her postdoctoral studies, she plans to expand her horizons to the field of stem cell research and to the exciting and developing field of organs-on-a-chip. The financial support provided by the Fellowship will enable her to pursue her dream of becoming an independent researcher and returning in a few years to one of the leading institutes in Israel. Sharon is grateful to Prof. Arnon for her assistance, as a female scientist, to achieve this goal and for supporting her husband and herself in their first steps abroad.
 
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