Tag: Honours & Awards

Coexistence – Israel’s Inevitable Faith

The Arditi Prizes for coexistence were awarded to students for their original plays on Jewish-Arab relations.

Tel Aviv University presented the Arditi Foundation Awards to outstanding students in the field of art in Jewish-Arab relations. Students from various disciplines at six Israeli universities – Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, University of Haifa, and The Open University of Israel – took part in the competition to write short original plays on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, with the shared theme of “smells, sounds and tastes.”

The three winning plays were selected by a panel of judges from TAU’s Department of Theater Arts, The Department of Literature, and The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The event was hosted by The S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, sponsored by the Arditi Foundation, and in collaboration with the Department of Theater Arts in The David and Yolanda Katz Faculty of the Arts.

First Place – Emulsion

The prize for first place was awarded to Emulsion, a play by Nir Cohen Rothschild and directed by Riki Assor. The play is about Wajdi, the pantry chef in a successful restaurant. On a particularly difficult shift, when new apprentice Uri is shadowing Wajdi, another cook is running late, pressure’s high – as are the kitchen manager’s high expectations – Wajdi and Uri are experiencing communication issues that are preventing the kitchen from running efficiently. The play shows how communication problems arise and how they can be dealt with.

Emulsion is exactly what we need – not only here in Israel but throughout the world,” said Hanna Birach, the student who played the role of Wajdi.

“The message of the play is that it is mixing, or unmediated contact that creates a delicious dish. We mustn’t judge those who have a different faith than us, and we are not the sole bearers of the truth. Only when we learn to listen will we achieve true coexistence.”


From Nir Cohen Rothschild’s winning play – Emulsion (Photo: Chen Galili)

Second Place – The Country’s Chef

Second place, went to The Country’s Chef, a play by Doron Rechlis and directed by Yochai Hacker. The play follows an Arab and a Jewish contestant competing against each other in the grand finale of the popular reality cooking show.


From Doron Rechlis’ play The Country’s Chef (Photo: Chen Galili)

Third Place – Being Only You for the Rest of Your Life

The play Being Only You for the Rest of Your Life, written by Sigi Golan and directed by Mor Halevi, won third place. The play is about a young woman who decides to meet with a man from a dating app. He is not at all what she expected, but they learn that there is much more to the other person than what meets the eye.


From Sigi Golan’s play Being Only You for the Rest of Your Life (Photo: Chen Galili)

No Choice But to Live Together

Prof. Raanan Rein, head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for International and Regional Studies, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic which affected everyone, regardless of national or ethnic identity, in combination with the sequence of violent events between Arabs and Jews that took place in May 2021 following the military Operation Guardian of the Walls, highlighted the need to find ways to live together in this country.”

“Tel Aviv University, as a leading research institution, has a cultural and social commitment. In a time of public discourse characterized by a degree of xenophobia and racism, there is a lot of value in a competition that expresses the pluralistic nature of the University and of Israeli society and the importance we place on the need to know ‘the other.’”

The founder and head of the Arditi Foundation, Mr. Metin Arditi, is a Jewish Swiss writer and philanthropist. He congratulated the participants, saying, “In Israel, Jews and Arabs have no choice but to live together.”

“Coexistence between Jews and Arabs is the inevitable fate of the State of Israel,” he concluded.

Features image: The winning playwrights (left to right): Nir Cohen Rothschild (1st place), Sigi Golan (3rd place), Doron Rechlis (2nd place) (Photo: Chen Galili)

Prof. Zvi Galil, Former President of Tel Aviv University, is Ranked 7th Among the World’s Most Influential Computer Scientists

Remarkable achievement for Israeli researcher.

The prestigious Academic Influence ranking has placed Prof. Zvi Galil as 7th among the world’s most influential computer scientists for the decade of 2010-2020. Prof. Galil is an alumnus, former faculty member and department chair, and seventh president of Tel Aviv University. Academic Influence is an American AI-based platform that ranks academic institutions and lecturers according to their impact. Prof. Galil was ranked in the top 10 in his field, in part due to his contribution to making the knowledge of computer science accessible to wide audiences, and specifically for the online MSc in Computer Science that he pioneered in 2014 at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). The launch of the online program significantly reduced the cost of obtaining an advanced degree and made it available to populations unserved by institutions of higher learning. The program was widely acclaimed, and former US President Barack Obama commended it enthusiastically. Prof. Galil is an acclaimed computer scientist who has published more than 200 papers in leading journals, and one of the most highly cited researchers in his field. Among his leaderships roles he is the former dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Computing and former Morris and Alma A. Schapiro Dean of Engineering at Columbia University. Prof. Zvi Galil: “It was a great privilege to initiate and lead an online master’s program in computer science which offers high academic quality at low cost, thereby enabling large numbers of students – 16,000 to date – to realize their aspirations and improve their lives.”

2020 Kadar Ceremony Celebrates Pioneering Spirit and Hard Work

In its sixth year, the Kadar Family Award continues to nurture research and excellence in teaching at TAU.

Four outstanding junior and senior TAU faculty members on campus were presented with the 2020 Kadar Family Award for Outstanding Research at a special online event as part of the 2020 Board of Governors meeting. The winners, Prof. Tal Ellenbogen (Engineering), Prof. Ilit Ferber (Humanities), Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi (Humanities) and Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro (Medicine), were selected from multiple candidates who went through a rigorous review process.

Nadav Kadar, TAU alumnus, recently elected member of the TAU Board of Governors and co-founder of the Naomi Foundation, delivered remarks at the virtual event. Also present were Prof. Yoav Henis, outgoing VP for Research and Development and Chairman of the award committee; TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat; and outgoing TAU Rector Prof. Yaron Oz.

“My family joins me in congratulating the 2020 recipients of the award. Thank you for your magnificent contributions in your respective fields,” said Nadav Kadar on behalf of the Kadar family during the ceremony. “Our award honors outstanding research and scholarship in the sciences and the humanities and celebrates the pioneering spirit and hard work necessary to change the world. My mother, Naomi Prawer Kadar, taught Yiddish at schools and institutions of higher learning around the world including the International Yiddish Summer Program at TAU. We are proud to support Tel Aviv University as a hub of innovation.”

Prof. Henis, chair of the event, gave special thanks to the Kadar family for supporting the award for the sixth year in a row. “We truly hope that this important tradition will continue.”

“The Kadar Award has become the most prestigious research award at TAU,” said President Porat at the ceremony. “In order to become prestigious, an award must meet two conditions: candidates must be high quality, and the selection committee members must be distinguished scholars who are able to make judgments outside their field. The committee has done a wonderful job year after year.”

The Kadar Family Award is funded by the Naomi Foundation, which honors the memory of Naomi Prawer Kadar PhD, a lifelong educator and the late wife of physician, educator and innovator Dr. Avraham Kadar, a TAU graduate and benefactor. Naomi and Avraham Kadar’s three children, Nadav Kadar, Einat Kadar Kricheli, and Maya Kadar Kovalsky, are alumni of TAU and active board members of the Foundation alongside their father.

The 2020 Kadar Family Award laureates:

Prof. Tal Ellenbogen is the Head of the Laboratory for Nanoscale Electro-Optics at the School of Electrical Engineering within the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. He studies light-matter interactions in the atmosphere to develop and improve optical technologies. Ellenbogen strives to influence industry and humanity by improving technologies that are used everywhere; mobile phones, camera lenses, computer screens, car scanners, and more.



Prof. Ilit Ferber is a member of the School of Philosophy, Linguistics and Science Studies at the Entin Faculty of Humanities. Her research examines the relationship between human communication and painful emotions such as melancholy, loss and anxiety. These emotions, generally perceived as negative, can cause language communication to collapse, making it difficult to express pain. Ferber believes, however, that painful emotions can open up a new world of communicating these feelings without words.



Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi belongs to the Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology at the Entin Faculty of Humanities.  He specializes in Talmudic literature and culture and has researched and written on the Midrash and Mishnah, as well as on issues of self-formation and collective identity in Second-Temple Judaism and rabbinic literature. He is a recipient of the Alon Fellowship and serves as a mentor for numerous master’s and PhD students.



Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro is the Chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Her research focuses on the interactions between cancer calls and their microenvironments, including tumor progression and angiogenesis. For the past five years, she has worked on using the immune system to attack cancer cells using nanotechnology. In 2020, her team pivoted their work to find a COVID-19 nano-vaccine, and plan to translate research findings into clinical trials soon. She has published close to 100 scientific articles and registered numerous patents.



Two TAU Professors Win 2020 Nature Mentoring Award

Prof. Neta Erez and Prof. Tal Pupko, nominated by students, are building the future generation of scientists.

Two scientists from Tel Aviv University – Professor Neta Erez, head of the Department of Pathology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, and Professor Tal Pupko, head of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at the Life Sciences Faculty, have won the 2020 Nature Research Awards for Mentoring in Science, given by the Springer Nature Group, which is the home of the leading journal Nature.

The prestigious award (which is given in a different country each year), was given in Israel this year, with Tel Aviv University sweeping all the honors for mid-career mentoring. The award is given to scientists who excel in mentoring research students in their laboratories, thus contributing to the development of the future of science — in Israel in particular and in the world in general. Both winners will share the $10,000 prize. They said that the prize was especially moving for them because the ones who had nominated them for it were the very ones whom they mentored — the students and graduates of their laboratories.

Professor Erez, who established a laboratory ten years ago for researching metastasis of breast cancer and melanoma, and who has mentored 16 doctoral candidates and five master’s degree students so far, said, “For me, mentoring is a central part of my identity as a scientist. When a doctoral candidate comes to me, I tell them: ‘You are starting off as my student, and I want you to end up as my peer.’ For that reason, my role as a mentor is not only to accompany the research. My role is to teach my students to think and do research like scientists, and to find their own way in science and in life in general.  I am very proud of their accomplishments. Quite a few graduates of the laboratory have been awarded prizes and grants. As of now, four of the students have completed their medical studies and are planning to combine medicine and research. One is a research fellow and a lab manager in an academic setting, another is doing post-doctoral work in the United States, and four others are working as scientists in the biotech industry. In addition, I serve as a mentor for two young researchers who recently established their own laboratories.” 

Professor Pupko, who established a laboratory 17 years ago that deals with molecular evolution and bioinformatics, has mentored 18 doctoral candidates so far. “The members of the academic staff are evaluated based on a variety of parameters: research grants, publications and teaching. Another index, which I feel does not receive enough emphasis, is the success of a staff member’s laboratory graduates — the young scientists whom he taught, mentored, and ‘raised.'” I invest a great deal of thought and effort in my students in order to support, encourage, advise, and nurture them. All 12 doctoral candidates who completed their degree in my laboratory have gone on to do post-doctoral work.  Four of them are staff members in academia (including three at Tel Aviv University) — a particularly high number for an academic research laboratory. Other graduates of my laboratory hold high-ranking positions in the hi-tech and bio-tech industries. As I see it, a student who excels is better than another three scientific papers. My aim is to raise up generations of researchers in Israel. I see that as my mission.”

The prize committee, which included Professor Karen Avraham of the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, announced that it had chosen the two recipients because “it was impressed with their contagious enthusiasm of former students,” who had nominated them for the award. The committee also praised Professor Pupko for his inclusive approach and encouragement of a healthy work-life balance alongside professional excellence, and Professor Erez for her work to advance women in science and for projects that bring her influence as a mentor to wider circles, including ones outside her laboratory.

TAU Prof. Wins Schmidt Science Polymath Award

Prof. Oded Rechavi one of first winners of prestigious prize, which is defined as “an experiment in extreme curiosity-driven innovation”

A great honor for Israeli science: Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt,  has decided to establish a new $2.5m award entitled Polymaths, for researchers exhibiting rare interdisciplinarity. Only two scientists have been chosen to receive the first Polymaths Award: Prof. Jeff Gore of MIT and Prof. Oded Rechavi of the Neurobiology Department at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. Each of the two scientists will receive an annual unrestricted grant of $500,000 for five years, to pursue any direction of research. “I am proud to have been chosen and excited about the opportunity to open new fields of research,” says Prof. Rechavi. “Typically scientists receive funds for research projects that are already underway. The Polymaths Award is different. They tell you: ‘Here are the resources. Do something completely new, take risks. Investigate wild ideas you never would have dreamed of proposing to other research foundations.'”

The Schmidt Science Polymath program is an initiative created under Schmidt Futures, which finds exceptional people and helps them achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields. The program aims to provide outstandingly interdisciplinary researchers with the means to expand their research even further. In the future, a prestigious network of the award’s laureates will be established. “An experiment in extreme curiosity-driven innovation,” proclaims the program. “Instead of focusing on specific research ideas, the goal for the program is to bet on people, their special talents, and their teams.” 

The laboratory of the first Polymath Award laureate, Prof. Oded Rechavi, excels in promoting interdisciplinary research. In recent years Prof. Rechavi has studied a very vast range of topics, achieving scientific breakthroughs in fields that are not necessarily connected to one another. Thus, for example, Rechavi discovered a mechanism enabling transgenerational inheritance of parental responses, showing for the first time that small RNAs are inherited alongside DNA, and deciphering the laws of epigenetic heredity. In another study, Rechavi and his team assisted in decoding the Dead Sea Scrolls through the DNA of the parchments on which they were written, shedding more light on the history of the late Second Temple period. Rechavi also explored the neuronal basis of irrationality, finding a simple law for altering the nervous system of worms so that they become less or more rational. In a completely different area, Rechavi’s group genetically engineered parasites to turn them into protein-secreting machines enabling repair of genetic diseases of the nervous system.

Prof. Oded Rechavi. Photo: Yehonatan Zur.

Dan David Prize to Focus on Medicine, Public Health in 2021

In wake of COVID-19, laureates will be chosen in fields relating to pandemic and beyond

The 2021 Dan David Prize will focus on three fields with special resonance in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the efforts to combat the disease. The international prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, awards three $1 million prizes for outstanding achievements and extraordinary discoveries in fields representing the past, present and future, with different fields selected each year. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected nearly all aspects of life in recent months, is reflected in this year’s selection, as the prize seeks to reward major contributions in the fields of History of Health and Medicine, Public Health and Molecular Medicine. “Considering fields for the 2021 Dan David Prize in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging task,” said Prof. Ariel Porat, the president of Tel Aviv University and chairperson of the Dan David Prize Board. “We were seeking topics that would relate to the pandemic but not be limited to the quest for a vaccine or cure. We believe the fields we have chosen are newly resonant in light of our experiences these past months.” The prize in the “Past” category will be awarded to an outstanding individual or organization making an ongoing, groundbreaking contribution to the field of History of Health and Medicine. The “Present” category will focus on an individual or organization making pioneering and prominent advances in the field of Public Health – a sphere often overlooked in the world of prizes. The “Future” award will honor an individual or organization making an outstanding and ongoing contribution to the rapidly evolving field of Molecular Medicine, which, by deciphering the molecular mechanisms of disease, can accelerate the development of new preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic tools. The pandemic also impacted last year’s Prize, which was awarded in the fields of Cultural Preservation and Revival, Gender Equality and Artificial Intelligence. For the first time since the Prize was launched in 2001 by the late businessman and philanthropist Dan David, the traditional award ceremony was cancelled as the laureates, hailing from around the globe, were unable to travel to Tel Aviv to receive their prizes in person. Previous laureates of the prize include authors Margaret Atwood and Amos Oz, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, cellist Yoyo Ma, maestro Zubin Mehta, economist and subsequent Noble Prize winner Esther Duflo, geneticist Mary-Claire King and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. Anyone can nominate candidates for the prize via the website  before the November 30 deadline. More details of this year’s fields and the nomination can be found there too. Alternatively, contact the Dan David Prize office on ddprize@tauex.tau.ac.il or +972-3-640-6614/5.

TAU medical researcher wins Israel Prize

Prof. Gidi Rechavi, of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, has won Israel’s highest honor for his academic and clinical work

Prof. Gidi Rechavi has spent most of his professional life at Tel Aviv University, either studying, teaching, or conducting research. Prof. Rechavi’s study of the molecular basis of childhood cancer and mobile genetic elements in the field of RNA modifications have won him numerous awards, and have been the subject of over 500 academic articles. Now, he’s been awarded the highest honor the State of Israel can bestow on a researcher: the Israel Prize. In a pre-recorded and ceremony, without an audience, which marked the end of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, Prof. Rechavi received the prestigious award, alongside laureates from other fields. “When you think of an exemplary doctor-researcher in Israel, the first name that comes to mind is Gidi Rechavi’s,” according to the panel of judges who awarded the Prize. “His work as an outstandingly dedicated physician did not interfere with, or perhaps even helped him, develop a wonderful and exceptional scientific career, in its achievements and scope.” Raising your own partners Prof. Rechavi, who conducts his clinical and research work at the medical centers Tel Hashomer and Sheba, has continued to teach students at Tel Aviv University throughout his career. “For me, teaching the new generation is very important,” he says. “In fact, my main partner in my research right now is Dr. Dan Dominissini, who was one of my students at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. And there are many more examples like him, of TAU students I taught who then became researchers and collaborators.” Prof. Rechavi’s oldest son, Dr. Oded Rechavi, is also a professor at TAU, at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. Is there any connection between their academic interests? “We work in different fields,” Prof. Rechavi says. “But we both focus on the RNA molecule in our research, so that’s similar.” Perhaps the secret to Prof. Rechavi’s success is that his two other children are also studying medicine at TAU, and his wife is also a doctor, so all the members of his family can help each other develop ideas? “The thing my family is the biggest expert on is actually American basketball,” Prof. Rechavi jokes. “We even wake up in the middle of the night to watch the games.”

Who are the 2020 Dan David Prize laureates?

From the preservation of African American history to Artificial Intelligence, the Dan David Prize honors innovators in a range of important fields

The internationally renowned Dan David Prize, headquartered at Tel Aviv University, annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to globally inspiring individuals and organizations, honoring outstanding contributions that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world. The total purse of US $3 million makes the prize not only one of the most prestigious, but also one of the highest-value prizes internationally. This year’s fields are Cultural Preservation and Revival (Past category), Gender Equality (Present category), and Artificial Intelligence (Future category).

The Laureates 

Cultural Preservation and Revival (Past Category)

    Lonnie G. Bunch III was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s inspiring National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which constitutes the most comprehensive and significant project toward the preservation of the full sweep of African American history and its impact on American and world history. With over 40,000 exhibits, the museum has been critically praised for its clear-sighted, unflinching portrayal of the African American experience. An influential curator and prolific author, Bunch serves today as the Smithsonian’s 14th Secretary – the first historian and first African-American to be appointed to this position.     Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is a distinguished scholar of Performance studies and Jewish Studies at New York University, who led the development of the core exhibition of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, winner of the 2016 European Museum of the Year Award. The museum is a hub for Jewish historical preservation in Warsaw, tracing the 1000-year history of Polish Jews, in an effort to re-animate a vibrant and culturally rich vanished Jewish world, which she has spent a lifetime exploring – telling the story literally where it took place.  

Gender Equality (Present Category)

  Prof. Debora Diniz is the Deputy Director of the Rights and Justice Unit for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, where she oversees strategies to promote and protect gender equality, sex, and reproductive rights and health, and to eliminate violence against women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Her ongoing contributions span her work in sexual and reproductive health rights, social protection, and reframing the Zika virus in relation to social and racial inequalities.   Prof. Gita Sen is a pioneering feminist scholar, researcher, and advocate. For decades, she has worked expansively in the fields of population policies, reproductive and sexual health, women’s rights, poverty, labor markets and global governance, combining her academic career with policy advocacy and activism. Her innovative research on disadvantaged populations in low income rural settings, together with her mentorship of young scholars and advocates, has made a significant impact on the field.  

Artificial Intelligence (Future Category)

  Dr. Demis Hassabis is a pioneer of artificial intelligence and a widely-cited neuroscientist. He is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, one of the world’s leading AI research companies, which seeks to combine insights from neuroscience and machine learning with the latest developments in computer hardware, to construct a mechanism for general-purpose learning – ‘artificial general intelligence.’ To date, DeepMind has published nearly 1,000 papers – including multiple Nature and Science publications – and achieved groundbreaking results in challenging AI domains, from self-learning algorithms playing strategy games at a “superhuman” level (DQN and AlphaGo), to protein folding and medical applications.   Prof. Amnon Shashua is a machine learning and computer vision researcher at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work and insights formed the seeds of several startups he has co-founded over the years, including Mobileye (acquired by Intel Corp. in 2017), which develops AI to enable driving assistance systems and autonomous driving technology – to date, more than 55 million cars throughout the world are equipped with Mobileye systems; and OrCam, which harnesses computer vision and natural language processing to assist the visually and hearing impaired.

About the Dan David Prize

The Dan David Prize was established by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist whose vision is the driving force behind the international Dan David Prize. His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future. Previous Dan David Prize laureates include cellist Yo-Yo Ma (2006); former US Vice President Al Gore (2008); novelist Margaret Atwood (2010); filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen (2011); distinguished economist and recent Nobel Laureate, Esther Duflo (2013); and discoverer of the breast cancer gene, Professor Mary-Claire King (2018). The laureates donate 10% of their award money to scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields. Ariel David, director of the Dan David Foundation and son of the prize founder, said: “We are very proud of the unique model the Dan David Prize takes in turning the spotlight on endeavors that often do not fall under traditional prize categories, yet result in outstanding contributions to humanity that define who we are and shape our future.” The Prize’s unique model implements a ‘roving’ formula that rewards achievements in all fields of human endeavor, rather than in a fixed set of categories, and every year, a new theme is selected for each of the three time categories – past, present, and future. The six laureates will be honored at the 2020 Dan David Prize Award Ceremony, to be held in Tel Aviv in May 2020.

TAU researcher first female Israel Prize laureate in Talmud

Prof. Vered Noam, chair of the Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies, is a true change-maker

TAU is delighted and proud to announce that Prof. Vered Noam, Chair of the Chaim Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology, will be the first-ever female recipient of the Israel Prize in Talmud this year. The Israel Prize is Israel’s highest honor. In addition to her outstanding research which has been recognized globally, Prof. Noam is widely lauded for mentoring junior scholars and for making Jewish texts accessible to the general public in Israel. Among other activities, she founded and manages a popular Facebook group for the discussion of Jewish texts. Despite women’s advances in the field of Jewish studies, women have not yet attained equality in the field, Noam told Israeli media. “In our world Jewish women have a right and a duty to be part of the multi-generational conversation of the Jewish people and to belong to study and Torah.” Tel Aviv University’s Rosenberg School of Jewish Studies and Archaeology is leading a Jewish renewal movement in Israel. Inquisitive, open and cosmopolitan, the School provides a fresh, cross-disciplinary approach to the Jewish continuum—and is unique in the academic world. Prof. Vered Noam (photo: Miri Shimonovic)

TAU Honorary Degrees 2019

This year’s Honorary Degrees will be awarded to illustrious individuals in the areas of research, business, banking, social activism and philanthropy


The ceremony will take place on 16 May 2019 at the Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium on the Tel Aviv University campus as part of the 2019 international Board of Governors Meeting.


The George S. Wise Medal:


Dr. Axel A. Weber, Germany

Dr. Axel Weber has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS, a Swiss bank and the world’s largest global wealth manager, since 2012. Previously, he served as a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, President of the German Bundesbank, and as a member of the German Council of Economic Experts. He was a professor at the University of Cologne (2001-2004), Goethe University of Frankfurt/Main (1998-2001) and University of Bonn (1994-1998), and a Visiting Professor at the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago (2011-2012). A leading financial expert, Dr. Weber serves in a diverse range of advisory and trustee roles, including as Chairman of the Board of the Institute of International Finance, member of the Group of Thirty, and board member of the Swiss Bankers Association. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Siegen, Germany.


Honorary Doctorates:


Mr. Sylvan Adams, Israel/Canada

Sylvan Adams, a Canadian-born businessman, philanthropist and amateur cycling champion, made Aliyah in 2016. He previously served as CEO of the Montreal-based real estate firm Iberville Developments, and was the sole shareholder of Summit International Bank. Upon immigrating to Israel, Adams quickly integrated and devoted himself to serving his country; his calling card reads: “Self-appointed Ambassador at large for the State of Israel.” Adams supports an array of causes, most notably in education, health sciences, Jewish continuity, and sport, continuing the philanthropic legacy of his parents, Marcel and Annie, and the family tradition to make a positive contribution to society. Adams holds an MBA from the University of Toronto. He is a Governor and Vice-Chair of Tel Aviv University’s Board of Governors, and a member of the cabinet of TAU’s Global Campaign.


Prof. Adrian R. Krainer, USA/Uruguay

Adrian Krainer is the St. Giles Foundation Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Long Island, NY). He grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, the child and grandchild of Jewish Romanian and Hungarian immigrants. He received his BSc and PhD degrees in biochemistry from Columbia University and Harvard University, respectively. Prof. Krainer focuses his research on RNA splicing, and invented the RNA-targeted antisense therapeutic Spinraza, the first approved drug to treat the neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy. Prof. Krainer has published widely and holds 7 US patents and 83 foreign patents that have been licensed or sublicensed to 3 companies. He is the recipient of the 2019 Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize and the 2019 RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Prof. Krainer is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors (USA), and the Royal Society of Medicine (UK). 


Dr. Shlomo Markel, Israel  

Dr. Shlomo Markel has been Vice President, Office of the Chief Technical Officer, at Broadcom since 2001. Dr. Markel also oversees both the operations in Israel, where Broadcom has acquired 13 companies in the last decade, and academic collaboration with all the major Israeli universities; and promotes STEM education in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. In 1999, he retired at the rank of Rear Admiral from the Israeli Navy as Chief of Material Command, where he headed R&D, logistics, programs and technology. The holder of several US and international patents, Dr. Markel has received numerous accolades, including the Navy CNO Citation for Creative Thinking, Israel’s R&D Ministry of Defense Ingenuity Award and, in 2013, national recognition from the President of Israel for his and Broadcom’s contribution to the Israeli economy. Dr. Markel holds a BSc, MSc and DSc in electrical engineering from the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology.


Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria

Economist, international development expert and anti-corruption warrior, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the first woman to serve as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006). Previously, she served for 25 years at the World Bank, rising to the number two position of Managing Director, where she oversaw an $81 billion operational portfolio in Africa, Asia and Europe. Among a host of leadership and advisory roles, she currently chairs the boards of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the Africa Risk Capacity. She co-chairs the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and is a member of the Standard Chartered Bank PLC and Twitter Boards, among others. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala holds a degree in economics from Harvard (1976) and a PhD in regional economics and development from MIT (1981). She was named by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 greatest world leaders in 2015, and by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful women for five consecutive years.


Mr. Dilip Shanghvi, India

Dilip Shanghvi is an Indian entrepreneur who founded Sun Pharmaceutical Industries in 1983. The company is the 5th largest global specialty generic pharma company with revenues of $4 billion. Mr. Shanghvi is currently the Managing Director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, and Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company, which is engaged in R&D of drugs and delivery systems. Mr. Shanghvi is the former President of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. In 2018, he was appointed to the central board committee of the Reserve Bank of India, and in 2017 he was made a trustee of the Rhodes Scholarship Program at Oxford University. He is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. For his accomplishments, the Indian government awarded Mr. Shanghvi the Padma Shri civilian award in 2016.


The Hon. Laura Wolfson Townsley, UK

The Honorable Laura Wolfson Townsley is Chair of the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust and a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation, both of which have a long tradition of funding excellence in higher education across the UK and Israel. She is the granddaughter of Sir Isaac Wolfson and the daughter of Lord Wolfson of Marylebone, the charities’ founders. In 2010, the Wolfson family was awarded the Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy and, in 2013, the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Mrs. Wolfson Townsley has received numerous honors for her charitable endeavors, including an honorary fellowship from Birkbeck, University of London and the Rambam Award for 2011, and she is a Tel Aviv University Governor. The Wolfson family has supported an extensive range of projects at Tel Aviv University over four decades, including buildings, research grants, prizes, scholarships and chairs in fields ranging from engineering to Jewish studies and theoretical physics.


Dr. Janet L. Yellen, USA

Dr. Janet Yellen is an economist who served as Chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System from 2014-18, and as Vice-Chair from 2010-2014. She is a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. Among her prior roles, she was Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton, and President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Dr. Yellen has been a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley since 1980, where she was the Eugene and Catherine Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has written on a wide range of macroeconomic issues, with an emphasis on the causes, mechanisms and implications of unemployment. She received her PhD in economics from Yale University in 1971, the only woman in a class of 24.


Honorary Fellowships:


Mr. Richard Sincere, USA

Richard Sincere is founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Sincere & Co., a third-party marketing and distribution firm in the financial investment industry. He previously worked at the Fidelity Investment Advisor Group as a Senior Vice President and in management positions at National Westminster Bank and Citicorp/Citibank. He has been a Director of the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards since 2010 and also serves on the mutual fund board of Roge Partners Fund. Mr. Sincere writes a bimonthly column for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors publication, and serves on the advisory boards of The Journal of Wealth Management and Inside Money. At Tel Aviv University, he is a member of the international Board of Governors and of the board of the Coller School of Management, as well as outgoing National Chairman of the American Friends Board of Directors. His connection with TAU began when he spent a study year abroad in its overseas program in 1974.


Appleseeds Academy, Israel

Appleseeds Academy is an Israeli non-profit founded in 2000 with the aim of bridging between Israel’s startup sector and marginalized communities from Israel’s social and geographic periphery. An initiative of Mr. Leon Recanati, who serves as its Honorary President, Appleseeds promotes digital equality in Israel by developing and implementing programs in the areas of technology, employment and life skills. Through its team of 250 professional instructors, Appleseeds works in dozens of sites across Israel, from Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south, reaching some 80,000 beneficiaries annually. Its overarching mission is to level the playing field for underprivileged groups by equipping them with technological and life skills that will help them integrate into Israel’s mainstream employment market, economy and society.




TAU President’s Award:  



SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. The $100 million project was founded by three young engineers in response to the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge and made possible by several private donors. SpaceIL’s launch of ‘Beresheet’ took place in February 2019 and while, its moon landing was unsuccessful, it made Israel the seventh country to orbit the Moon and is the first privately funded spacecraft to achieve this milestone.



Yariv Bash: Bash is a TAU electrical & electronic engineering alumnus, and CEO and co-founder of Flytrex Aviation, which provides autonomous drone delivery solutions.

Yonatan Winetraub: A TAU master’s alumnus in electrical engineering and a graduate of the NASA International Space University, Winetraub gained experience in space technologies as a satellite system engineer for Israeli Aerospace Industries.

Kfir Damari: An entrepreneur, engineer, researcher and lecturer, is a communication systems engineering graduate of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and is co-founder of Tabookey, a cyber security startup.



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