weizmann science writer

wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research institutions. Hundreds of scientists, laboratory technicians and research students working on its lushly landscaped campus embark daily on fascinating journeys into the unknown, seeking to improve our understanding of nature and our place within it.

The Institute’s roots go back to the Daniel Sieff Research Institute, built in 1934 with the support of Israel and Rebecca Sieff of London in memory of their son Daniel. It was established upon the initiative of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the driving force behind its scientific activity and its first President. A world-renowned chemist, he headed the Zionist movement for many years and later became the first President of the State of Israel. In November 1944, with the agreement of the Sieff family, it was decided that the Sieff Institute would become the nucleus of a large-scale research institution named after Dr. Chaim Weizmann. On November 2, 1949, in honor of Dr. Weizmann’s 75th birthday, the Weizmann Institute was formally dedicated.

The Institute has five faculties – Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biology – and the faculties in turn are divided into 17 scientific departments. In addition, the Feinberg Graduate School, the Institute’s university arm, trains research students pursuing graduate degrees.

The Weizmann Institute serves as a meeting place for scientists from different disciplines, setting the stage for multidisciplinary collaborations and the emergence of new research fields. To encourage this creative activity, the Institute has created some 50 multidisciplinary research institutes and centers, most of which provide an intellectual rather than physical framework for joint projects. These institutes and centers stimulate activity in a multiplicity of fields, including brain research, cancer research, nanotechnology, renewable energy sources, experimental physics, biological physics, environmental studies, the study of autoimmune diseases, plant sciences, photosynthesis, genetics and others.

Today the campus community numbers more than 2,600: some 1,000 scientists and scientific staff, 1,000 research students, 220 postdoctoral fellows and 400 administrative employees. The Institute has some 250 research groups headed by senior scientists and professors, of whom approximately 100 were born in Israel; the rest have come to Israel and to the Institute from 28 countries: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, France, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay. Each year, around 500 scientists from dozens of countries around the globe visit the Weizmann Institute or come to work on its campus. And each year, approximately 25 international scientific conferences take place at the Institute.

The Feinberg Graduate School, the Institute’s university arm, was established in 1958. The language of instruction is English, and the average advisor-student ratio is 1:3. Some 300 are pursuing M.Sc. degrees, and 700 Ph.D. degrees. About 45% are female. About a third of the 220 postdoctoral fellows come from the United States, Canada, Latin America, the European Union and Africa, as well as Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The Davidson Institute of Science Education, established in 2002, provides a continuation and expansion of Weizmann Institute activities in the area of science teaching. The “Perach” all-Israel tutoring program, currently headquartered at the Davidson Institute, enlists students from all the Israeli universities to serve as tutors to underprivileged youth. Each year, some 33,000 youngsters take part in activities organized by the Weizmann Institute’s Young@Science section including the Science Mobile, a teaching lab-in-a-van developed at the Weizmann Institute. The Clore Garden of Science, an award-winning outdoor facility is the first science museum of its kind in the world. Its 100 hands-on exhibits allow visitors to learn about science and nature through play and firsthand experience.

Members of the Weizmann Institute’s Science Teaching Department design new curricula for middle and high schools, experiment with future teaching methods, write textbooks (in Hebrew and Arabic), create games and interactive computer programs and implement special teacher training courses.

In theTop 10

This year’s CWTS Leiden Ranking put the Weizmann Institute at number 10 — and number one outside of the US — for impact. What is impact? In dry terms, it is publications in excellent journals and citations, weighted for institute size and evaluated by subject. This prestigious ranking favors the Weizmann Institute, because it compares…

When Dr. Jakub Abramson was a 14-year-old boy in the former Czechoslovakia, he asked his father what was the best place to do science. His father took the question seriously and, after some consideration, answered “the Weizmann Institute of Science.” Since that day, says Abramson, he knew he was bound for the Institute. “It’s just…

What is a breakthrough in cancer research? It is a new piece of a puzzle made up of a million pieces. It may, however, be a piece that allows a picture to start emerging – one that lets us see the shape of the next piece needed to fill in more of the puzzle, or…

Speaking of boycotts

A few days ago, the heads of several Israeli academic institutes, including Weizmann Institute of Science President Prof. Daniel Zajfman, met with Israel’s president, Reuben Rivlin to discuss the possible effects of an academic boycott. Afterward, Prof. Zajfman was interviewed on the evening magazine program London and Kirschenbaum. For Hebrew speakers, here is the interview:…

“Inclusion bodies – those clumps of protein that are found in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients – are, sadly, a product of aging,” says Dr. Maya Schuldiner. “They can form naturally in practically all cells, but when these cells get old, the mechanism for clearing them away starts to fail.” That is not great…

Best Image Today

Here is today’s scientific image: This delicate, fluffy object is a cytoskeleton viewed under a fluorescence confocal microscope. Below is a time-lape video of the process. For an explanation of why the cell’s actin fibers twist around into this shape, go to our website. Indeed, all three of today’s new articles involve crucial cellular dynamics:…

Next week is a big week for science in Israel. Tuesday is National Science Day, and Thursday is the annual Science on Tap talks in the bars and restaurants of Tel Aviv. Don’t know about National Science Day — this science writer will just point out that of all the minstries that are being fought…

Foreigner or native-born? Your immune system discriminates between them, as do those of bacteria. Yes indeed, bacteria do have immune systems – pretty complex ones at that. And like any useful immune system, the bacterial ones must have a good technique for distinguishing “foreign” from “self.” You may even have heard of the bacterial immune…

Dr. Gabriele D’Uva is finishing up his postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute. Here is his account of three years of highly successful research on regenerating heart cells after injury. Among other things, it is the story of the way that different ideas from vastly different research areas can, over the dinner table or in…

Today’s guest blogger is Idan Frumin, a student in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel in the Neurobiology Department.  Their research on the transmission of odor compounds while shaking hands appears today in eLife. It all started one day after lunch, sometime back in 2011. We sat in the lab’s living room (Yeah, we have…