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Presenting Israel’s Most Promising Young Scientists of 2021

The Blavatnik Awards in Israel names three Laureates including an optical physicist, an organic chemist and a neuroecologist.

Published January 26, 2021

Presenting Israel’s Most Promising Young Scientists of 2021

Today the New York Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, announced the three Laureates of the 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel. Each Laureate will receive US$100,000 for their groundbreaking discoveries—the largest unrestricted prize available to early-career scientists in Israel 42 years of age or younger. The three Laureates—one in each category of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Chemistry—were independently selected by three distinguished juries composed of Israel’s leading scientists.

“The passing year has demonstrated just how important groundbreaking science is,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries, Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation and member of the President’s Council for the Academy. “It’s imperative to encourage young scientists to venture broadly in their respective fields and to push the boundaries of scientific discovery. The achievements by these three outstanding Israeli scientists are testament to their brilliance, perseverance, and imagination—characteristics held by many young Israeli researchers who will continue to make remarkable contributions to science for generations to come.”

Nicholas B. Dirks, President and CEO of the Academy, said, “The 2021 Blavatnik Awards in Israel Laureates are an impressive group of scientific pioneers. On behalf of the New York Academy of Sciences, we are proud of the contributions that these young scientists in Israel are making to the global scientific community, improving lives for the better through their research. We congratulate them on their achievements and look forward to seeing what their future holds.”

Nili Cohen, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, said, “In the midst of a challenging year, we are extremely proud that our young scientists are venturing forward to new heights, and advancing scientific innovation and breakthrough. Together with the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences, we are delighted to honor these exceptional Israeli scientists with this prestigious Award.”

2021 Physical Sciences & Engineering Laureate: Ido Kaminer, Assistant Professor, The Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Prof. Ido Kaminer creates ways of generating light, X-rays, and other types of radiation from the interaction of electrons with novel materials. His work combines rigorous theoretical predictions and pivotal proof-of-concept experiments, and opens the possibility for miniaturized radiation sources for both fundamental research and practical applications such as medical imaging and security scanners. His work may profoundly influence fundamental physics research and have real world applications in the fields of biomedical imaging and security scanning.

2021 Chemistry Laureate:  Rafal Klajn, Associate Professor and Head of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Molecular Design, Weizmann Institute of Science

Prof. Rafal Klajn harnesses the power of organic chemistry to create dynamic nanomaterials that react to external stimuli, and designs nanostructures to probe chemical reactions that take place in confined spaces. Through careful design of these intricate molecular architectures, his work aims to create ‘life-like’ materials that could rival the complexity and functionality of those found in nature. Since most man-made materials are static and lack the ability to respond to external stimuli, the development of such materials is capable of changing the way in which we interact with the world.

2021 Life Sciences LaureateYossi Yovel, Associate Professor of Zoology, Tel Aviv University

Prof. Yossi Yovel has made profound contributions to the emerging field of neuroecology, the study of how the brain controls behavior in a changing environment. Surprisingly, bats are an excellent animal in which to study such behavioral responses. He has developed novel miniaturized devices which monitor the behaviors of freely moving bats in the wild. This work provides broader insight into group behaviors, integration of sensory information in the brain, and real-time decision making. He has made his technology freely available—it is used in field work internationally and has the potential to aid in engineering acoustic control of autonomous vehicles.

Chosen from 37 nominations submitted by seven universities across Israel and members of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council , the Laureates will be formally honored at a ceremony, as pandemic restrictions allow, at the renowned Israel Museum in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021.

To learn more about the Blavatnik Awards programs in the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel please visit the Blavatnik Awards website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @BlavatnikAwards