Tag: Honours & Awards

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: www.dandavidprize.org.

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)

TAU scholar named Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters

Dr. Sefy Hendler received the highest decoration awarded by the French Ministry of Culture

Dr. Sefy Hendler, head of the Department of Art History at Tel Aviv University, has been named Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of the highest decorations awarded by the French Ministry of Culture. The title was given to him for “his commitment to the service of French culture”.

He received the decoration from the hands of the French Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Hélène Le Gal, during a ceremony that took place on February 18, at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.

“I think that in our country, fed by American culture, there is room for other voices,” he said. “The French voice, according to which I have been educated for many years, is among the most important, especially because it is different, and I wish that my students, as well as the other people who come to the University, will be exposed to this aspect of culture “.

Personalities who received this award in the past include British poet and playwright T. S. Eliot, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, American writer Paul Auster, actress Sharon Stone, as well as Israeli authors Amos Oz, David Grossman, Ohad Naharin, Haim Gouri et Zeruya Shalev.

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)

TAU Confers Honorary Doctorate on Pioneer in Internet Technology

Prof. Amnon Yariv honored for decades of breakthrough research in optoelectronics

In recognition of his indelible mark in the field of integrated optics technology, Tel Aviv University awarded an honorary doctorate to Prof. Amnon Yariv, the Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech). The conferment ceremony was held at the Raya and Joseph Jaglom Auditorium in the George S. Wise Senate Building. Prof. Yariv is a member of and visiting lecturer at TAU’s Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies.

With a plethora of awards and honors, including the prestigious National Medal of Science presented by President Barak Obama in 2010, Prof. Yariv is widely credited with transforming the optical communications industry. His research group, which focuses on the theoretical and technological underpinning of optical communication, has generated numerous technologies, not the least of which was the invention of the semiconductor distributed feedback laser. This device enabled the transmission of mass data via phone, video, cable and the Internet, which has profoundly influenced society and culture across the globe.

Israeli-born Prof. Yariv fought in Israel’s War of Independence from 1948-1950, before leaving for the US. He completed his BSc, MSc and PhD in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, taking on his first role as Research Associate there in 1958. He then spent five years on the technical staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories, before returning to academia in 1964 as a professor of electrical engineering at CalTech, where he remains today.

In his tribute to Prof. Yariv, TAU Rector Yaron Oz spoke of how TAU awards honorary doctorates to those who are visionaries in their field — to those who create new realities instead of merely improving on what exists. “The ability to set a vision far beyond imagination and bridge the gap between vision and reality, this is the paths of excellence that led you here today,” said Prof. Oz.

Presenting the award along with Prof. Oz was TAU Vice President Raanan Rein. Among the guests in attendance were: Prof. Yossi Rosenwaks, Dean of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering; Prof. Avraham Gover, Head, Israeli Free Electron Laser Knowledge Center for Radiation Sources and Applications, Faculty of Engineering;  and Prof. (Emeritus) Emanuel Marom, former Dean of Engineering.

Featured image: From left: Prof. Yaron Oz, Prof. Amnon Yariv and Prof. Raanan Rein Photo: Yehonatan Zur

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.  

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.



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.”

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)

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.
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