Meet the Zuckerman STEM Leadership 2016-2017 Scholars

Meet the 2016-2017 Zuckerman Faculty Scholars

This program facilitates the return of top Israeli scholars from North America to join Israeli faculties. Four faculty scholars are entering the STEM Leadership Program in 2016.

  • Dr. Yaron Bromberg
    Coming to Hebrew University from Yale University

    Dr. Bromberg is a senior lecturer at the
    Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics is from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his M.Sc. in Physics from Tel Aviv University, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the Weizmann Institute of Science. He then went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School (2010-2012), followed by another postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University (2012-2015). He is an experimental physicist who studies quantum optics and other related topics. His work investigates what happens to photons, the fundamental particles that light is made of, when they are sent through opaque materials. This method may potentially have applications such as imaging through the skin or communicating through fog. Dr. Bromberg has co-authored 31 peer reviewed articles, is known as an excellent collaborator, and has already had an impact on the scientific community. At the same time, he is extremely committed to his teaching, and hopes to expose as many people as possible to the joy of doing science.

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  • Assistant Professor Yachin Ivry
    Coming to Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from MIT

    Professor Ivry is a member of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Solid State Institute of research at the Technion. His B.Sc. was from a program for excellent students at the Hebrew University. He received his M.Sc. from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, UK (2004, 2006 and 2011, respectively). Then he spent 3 years at MIT as a post-doctoral scholar, finally returning to Israel at the Technion. He is an expert in nano-functional materials—ferroelectrics and superconductors. He plans to enter uncharted territory: the interplay between the insulating nature of ferroelectrics and superconductivity. This is an extremely important issue, both fundamentally and technologically, that may provide an insight into the emergence of cooperative phenomena in electronic materials and, potentially, to the development of novel devices with advanced functionality, such as low-power computers. Recognized as someone who is “brimming with new ideas,” Ivry’s scientific activity has earned him prestigious prizes and awards including the Horev Fellowship, the British Council Chevening Award, the Klein Prize, and a Nokia Fellowship. He has delivered lectures at prestigious conferences and seminars in his research field and has published and reviewed papers for leading scientific journals. Professor Ivry is married with children.

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  • Dr. Ishay Pomerantz
    Coming to Tel Aviv university from University of Texas at Austin

    Dr. Pomerantz returns to Tel Aviv University, where he received his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics. He will be a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Particle Physics, which is in the School of Physics and Astronomy. He returns to Tel Aviv from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Texas Petawatt laser facility. While there, Dr. Pomerantz developed a unique method for laser generation of intense, ultra-short bursts of neutrons. Recognized for his brilliance and entrepreneurship, Dr. Pomerantz, will lead a high-intensity laser facility currently being built at the university, with seed funds raised from the university and from competitive grant programs. He hopes his research will lead to dramatically lowering the cost and size of neutron generators, eventually leading to more widespread use of intense laser systems for research and for social applications. To promote high intensity laser research in Israel, Dr. Pomerantz co-founded the Conference on High Intensity Lasers in Israel (CHILI.) He is married to Dr. Yael Shahar–Pomerantz. They are the parents of Daphne and Guy.

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  • Dr. Ivo Spiegel
    Coming to Weizmann Institute of science from Harvard University

    Dr. Spiegel returns to the Weizmann Institute,
    where he received his MSc and PhD in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology. He will be joining the Department of Neurobiology. Dr. Spiegel was born in Basel, Switzerland, and moved to Israel after high school. He went to Tel Aviv University, where he became fascinated by molecular and cellular biology, and by neuroscience. His career was at first devoted to neuronal cell biology, but during his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, he decided to shift to the challenging question of how gene regulation programs control circuit formation in the brain. His multidisciplinary approach has been highly praised. At Weizmann, Dr. Spiegel will be establishing his own independent research group which will attempt to identify the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which experience alters the structure and function of neural circuits in the brain in behaviorally relevant ways and to understand how these processes, when they go awry, might give rise to psychiatric disorders. Dr. Spiegel has three daughters.

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Meet the 2016-2017 Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholars

The Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholars Program attracts the highest-achieving researchers from premier universities in the United States and Canada to do postdoctoral research in Israel. Six postdoctoral scholars are entering the STEM Leadership Program in 2016. Here are their profiles.

  • Dr. Laura McCaslin
    Postdoc at Hebrew University

    Dr. McCaslin received her PhD in Physical Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. As part of her studies, she constructed and benchmarked novel atomic natural orbital-type basis sets for use in spin-free exact two-component relativistic calculations, designed and built a module to analytically transform full quartic force fields and vibrational/rotational parameters between isotopomers, and performed vibrational and rotational calculations in collaboration with experimental chemists to assign spectra and calculate best-fit structures. Dr. McCaslin has enjoyed teaching and leading from a young age, and during summers in college she organized four 14-day leadership workshops. In graduate school she participated in the Inspire Mentorship Program where she assisted an undergraduate student in preparing a research paper and presentation on the topic of women’s underrepresentation in STEM fields. The student then presented at the 21st Annual Conference on Emerging Scholarship in Women’s and Gender Studies.

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  • Dr. Benjamin Passer
    Postdoc at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

    Dr. Passer received his PhD in Mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis. He is interested in noncommutative geometry, group actions, operator theory, functional analysis, and algebraic topology. His dissertation topic was “Noncommutative Borsuk-Ulam Theorems.” As a graduate student, he held three service positions within the mathematics department and participated in a seminar designed to ease early graduate students into research study. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, Dr. Passer elected to lead his own courses. In recognition of these efforts, he was awarded both an endowed scholarship and a teaching award from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He looks forward to contributing to projects of the operator algebras group at the Technion.

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  • Dr. Joseph Kinghorn-Taenzer
    Postdoc at Tel Aviv University
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  • Dr. David Wernick
    Postdoc at the Weizmann Institute

    Dr. Wernick received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to being a Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar, he is both a Fulbright Research Scholar and a Weizmann Institute Systems Biology Network Fellow. Dr. Wernick has focused on applying biology to solve engineering problems, culminating in engineering microbial metabolism for efficient production of gasoline-alternative biofuels from wastes, and studying carbon fixation to aid removal of CO2 from the air and increase crop biomass. He has filed three patent applications. During his time at UCLA, he served as one of two student representatives selected from all University of California schools to meet with the governor and a team of state legislatures. The school representatives discussed research at the different campuses and made the case for increased funding for graduate student programs. Dr. Wernick is noted for his strong commitment to sustainability, his social skills, and his ability to make his ideas clear and engaging. His very strong background in metabolic engineering is a welcome addition to the field in Israel.

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  • Dr. Anastasia Yanchilina
    Postdoc at the Weizmann Institute

    Dr. Yanchilina was a PhD researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. Her doctoral thesis was entitled “The history of the last deglaciation through the lens of the Black Sea: new data and changing paradigms.” At the Weizmann Institute of Science, she plans to work in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences on the application of stable isotopes to diagnosing the evolution of opal to chert and Archean paleothermometry. Dr. Yanchilina was active on the Columbia cycling team, and has taken a team approach to her studies, too. She has previously done research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado where she participated in an expedition to study the atmospheric composition in southwest Pacific and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts where she reconstructed changes in temperature during the last deglaciation in western Atlantic. She has served as a New York Academy of Science Mentor as a teaching fellow and more recently, as a mentor working with junior high level students in environmental restoration. Dr. Yanchilina has also made several trips to Washington, D.C. as a proponent of earth science in national and international policy.

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Meet the 2016-2017 Zuckerman Israeli Postdoctoral Scholars

The Zuckerman Israeli Postdoctoral Program provides support to Israeli postdoctoral researchers who would like to study and do research in the U.S. Here are their profiles.

  • Dr. Eldad Afik
    Postdoc at California Institute of Technology

    Dr. Afik began his scientific career in experimental physics. After obtaining BSc. in Physics and Biology at the Hebrew University, his Ph.D. research at the Weizmann institute focused on complex flows. Interested in the development and ageing of multicellular organisms, he held a short postdoctoral appointment at Weizmann in computational modeling. Now at the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech, he will be studying Caulerpa, a giant single-cell alga which exhibits a complex morphology and differentiated organs, and challenges the notion that pattern formation results from cell-cell interactions. In addition to the fundamental questions to be explored, this line of research could potentially lead to insights into alternative energy resources and crop optimization.
    He will be using his expertise in experimental fluid dynamics and soft condensed matter, as well as in data analysis, to bring a physical and mathematical approach to the study of plant development and regeneration, focusing on the spatio-temporal dynamics of active self-organization.
    Dr. Afik is noted for having developed his own tools for obtaining and analysing experimental data, which he then gladly shares with others. His postdoc is also being funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Dr. Afik is married with two children.

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  • Dr. Alon Grinberg Dana
    Postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Dr. Grinberg Dana’s research interests cover several areas in the crossroads of the Chemical Engineering discipline and Applied Energy research, combining both computational chemistry and experimental approaches. His major research interest is in scalable novel low-carbon approaches to the global energy and environmental crisis. Dr. Grinberg Dana’s PhD is from the Grand Technion Energy Program where he suggested a new paradigm for large-scale energy storage in the form of nitrogen-based alternative fuels, which he has demonstrated to be both environmentally friendly as well as competitive with carbon-based fuels on an energy basis. His PhD research lead to ten published peer-reviewed journal articles with several more under way. Already recognized as a leader by the researchers he has worked with, he has mentored numerous graduate, undergraduate, and high school students in many settings, and was a head teaching assistant throughout his studies. Dr. Grinberg Dana’s interest in clean and safe combustion, and specifically in scalable novel low-carbon approaches to the global energy and environmental crisis, led him to his current position as a Postdoctoral researcher in the Green Group at the Chemical Engineering Department of MIT. His current research in computational chemistry enhances the Reaction Mechanism Generator (RMG) open-source software with nitrogen chemistry, making it the first automatic mechanism generation software to comprehensively include nitrogen. The Zuckerman Fellowship will allow him to continue working at the same lab, boosted by an even larger supplement from the department there. Besides his many academic awards, he has won teaching awards for every semester he has taught.

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  • Dr. Margarita Orlova
    Postdoc at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

    Dr. Orlova did her BSc, MSc, PhD, and postdoc at Tel Aviv University. In her PhD program she unveiled the complex interrelationship between queens and workers in honeybees. Her approach was multidisciplinary, encompassing behavior, chemical ecology and molecular genetics. Dr. Orlova was born in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia, and moved to Israel as a teenager. Now her work, supported by Zuckerman and also by the highly competitive Vaadia-BARD fellowship, takes her to the lab at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State, one of the best places in the US for studying the genomics of honeybees. She plans to combine this lab’s expertise with her own to better understand honey bee glands and pheromones, and their link to reproductive conflicts within the colony. More detailed knowledge of this field could help closer monitoring of queen health and productivity in commercial hives, an area of research that is greatly needed in Israel. Dr. Orlova’s work has been published in prestigious journals. She has also served as a lecturer and translator into Russian for an Israeli government innovation program for beekeepers from developing countries.

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  • Dr. Merav Stern
    Postdoc at the University of Washington, Seattle

    Dr. Merav Stern, Postdoc at the University of Washington, Seattle
    Dr. Stern completed her PhD from the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation at Hebrew University while collaborating with Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Dr. Stern is striving for a deeper understanding of how our brains process information. She seeks to identify brain areas that alter their activity during the course of learning a visually-guided behavioral task, to characterize these changes, and to assess for each brain area the intrinsic (local) changes versus alterations in external influences from other cortical areas. Known as an outstanding student, she excelled at the challenging task of adding a theoretical aspect to the study of the neural networks activity, and in fact her postdoctoral work will consist of beginning a new collaboration between a theoretical group of researchers at the University of Washington and experimental lab scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. Her work is expected to find widespread applications.

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