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Tel Aviv University

Eli Gelman appointed TAU Executive Council Chairman

The former Amdocs CEO replaces Dr. Giora Yaron, who completed two terms in offic

The Executive Council of Tel Aviv University approved the appointment of Mr. Eli Gelman as its Chairman, replacing Dr. Giora Yaron, who completed a two-term stint in the position. The selection of Gelman was made by a search committee.

Gelman served as CEO of Amdocs, one of Israel’s leading technology companies employing over 25,000 people, from 2010 to 2018. He is considered as one of the most valued executives in the global telecom industry. During the past 30 years, Gelman has held leading development and management positions at Amdocs as well as several other international high-tech companies.

“Tel Aviv University is a distinguished academic institution and I am proud to join it,” said Gelman. “I regard strengthening the connection between industry and the universities – with the knowledge and human capital they produce – as an essential goal, with Tel Aviv University taking a leadership role in this endeavor.” Gelman stressed that this challenge was part of a broader strategic goal: “to maintain the scientific and technological edge of Israel in the global arena.”

Gelman is a graduate of the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology’s academic reserve program in electronics and computer engineering. During his service in the IDF in the 1980s, he was responsible for developing the IDF’s tactical communications system, which is still in use today.

Photo: Yehonatan Zur

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Tel Aviv University

TAU’s Ben Luria is one of the first Israeli Rhodes Scholars

We talked to the Political Science major just before he flew to Oxford to begin his Master’s degree

What does former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner have in common with three Australian prime ministers, Bill Clinton and Ben Luria, a graduate of Political Science at Tel Aviv University? They all received the most prestigious scholarship in the academic world – the Rhodes Scholarship. Rhodes Sholars are considered “future leaders” and receive funding to study at Oxford University. The expectation is that in the future recipients will contribute to their societies and enter public life, although many have also been successful in the business world.

This year two Israelis received the Rhodes Scholarship, an honor not many Israeli students have recieved in the scholarship’s 116 year history. We are pleased to announce that this year one of them is a member of the TAU family – Ben Luria, who holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University. A moment before he packed up and went to England for two years, we asked him about his feelings and plans for the future, and also got a tip about his Spotify playlist.

Ben Luria

Ben Luria, recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship

Ben, in all honesty, did you think you’d get the scholarship when you applied?

I hoped, but I didn’t completely believe it. Seeing the high level of the scholarship required from the start, and then when I saw some of the other applicants and how impressive they were, I didn’t think I would be one of the recipients. Even in the introductory meetings with the selection committee and in the interviews themselves, I didn’t feel at any stage that I had it. But I brought my best self and my true self, my ideas and achievements but also my character, humor and honesty. Throughout the process, I made sure I was doing the best I could, and that helped to deal with my fears.

What does the scholarship mean to you? What will you be able to achieve with it that you haven’t been able to before?

Above all, it’s an amazing feeling that you know you were chosen for something like this. In my opinion, more than being a scholarship of academic ability, this is a leadership scholarship and it expresses confidence in my ability to bring about change in the future. The opportunity to study at an institution as esteemed as Oxford and to join such a distinguished family of influential Rhodes Scholars is a wonderful gift, and I hope to use the time there to learn and acquire tools that can serve me in the future and help promote change and social reform.

You were marked as a “future leader”. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Working for the society in which I live, in the hope of being in a position of influence and leadership. It can be on the public level but can also be through the third sector or social entrepreneurship. In any case, I hope and believe that my future will be directly related to contributing to my community.

Tell us a bit about your academic journey at Tel Aviv University.

At the university I studied for a Master’s degree in Security and Diplomacy at the School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs. As part of one of my seminars, I was researched the struggle of the Persian Gulf countries against Iran and China-US relations, which is the continuation of a BA in Sociology and Communication at the Open University, which I began during high school.

Have you always been an outstanding student?

Not really. Although I wasn’t afraid of not graduating high school, as an opinionated person from elementary school to high school, I was suspended more than once. My parents have grown accustomed to receiving phone calls and summons from teachers. In fact, I wrote about it as part of the scholarship application. The house I grew up in was very free in its educational approach. It allowed me to delve deeper into my interests, in any way I saw fit. So in high school I found myself taking courses at the Open University out of personal interest.

What do you think studying the social sciences gives students?

I feel that social sciences allow us to understand the reality around us, a bit like unplugging from the matrix. The ideas you lean seep deep into your consciousness and give you the ability to analyze events from a much broader perspective: understanding trends in depth, understanding the social structures in which things take place, analyzing the behavior of the various players in the arena and their interests. Suddenly, news about a demonstration, a new agreement, a social phenomenon or a political turnaround take on deeper, even surprising, meanings. Aside from the fun of understanding the reality around you, I think it also makes us better and more active citizens.

Who are the lecturers at TAU who most influenced you?

In the program I studied there are lecturers from diverse backgrounds, each of whom brought with them a deep and unique knowledge of their field, along with great accessibility to students, which I believe is the key to true learning. I can mention and thank the head of the program, Prof. Ezer Gat, whose course on strategic thought was really profound, and Dr. Yoram Evron, who supported me in the study of China-US relations and helped me a lot thanks to his attempt to help me develop a new sphere of knowledge.

What’s one thing that you’ve gotten from your studies at TAU that will stay with for the rest of your life?

I see learning as a way to avoid freezing in place. The habit of constantly acquiring new knowledge and discovering areas that were foreign to you, and being in another framework besides the professional one, makes us better rounded people, in my eyes.

 What will you miss most when you’re abroad?

I believe I’ll try to keep the home atmosphere going. I really like to cook vegan food, do yoga and try to go to as many live shows as possible, and believe that at Oxford I’ll find all these things too. I will miss the warm weather and the sea, but my playlists on Spotify will certainly help you, and you’re welcome to follow me! I’m BenLur93 or Ben Luria.

Before we say goodbye – do you have a tip for first year students?

Maybe it’s obvious, but I think it’s important to be interested in your field of study and your chosen courses. Obviously you have to think about your professional future and earning potential, but when you find a field you’re already drawn to everything becomes simpler. I chose these two degrees according to a strong personal interest in these fields, and this is what made the learning experience so positive for me.

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Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University will establish an innovative national Entrepreneurship Centre

The Centre will be the first of its kind and combine social, business and tech entrepreneurship

As could be expected of an institution that champions the pursuit of the unknown, entrepreneurship is an inseparable part of the culture and work of Tel Aviv University. Just recently, the university ranked eighth in the world in the number of graduates who successfully raised capital for their start-up companies. Numerous entrepreneurial activities are held regularly in the fields of management, engineering, neuroscience and more, along with activities at the TAU Online and TAU Ventures, the University’s capital venture fund for students and alumni.

Tel Aviv University has now won a bid to establish a new, first-of-its-kind centre for entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel. Of the 13 proposals submitted to the Israeli Council of Higher Education, the joint proposal of Tel Aviv University and Shenkar College of Design was in second place, with funding of NIS 15 million (about $4 million) for four years. This will enable the establishment of a leading, world-class entrepreneurship centre.

“Curiosity, relentlessness and the desire to discover new things are in the DNA of the entire TAU community, headed by our researchers. These traits also characterize our students. The new Centre will strive to ignite in them the spark of entrepreneurship and the desire to make the impossible possible. We are excited about the journey, during which many of our graduates will contribute to a better and stronger society and economy that will have an impact on the world,” said university president Prof. Yossi Klafter.

Entrepreneurship is in all of us

The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will take the university to the next step: the students will become the focus of action. “We intend to expose them to the entrepreneurial world, in the hope that a large part of the students will want to take an active part in it from participation in courses and workshops to taking on roles in startups. We will offer faculty members workshops to familiarize themselves with the world and the entrepreneurial tools out there,” said Prof. Klafter.

TAU will strive to achieve greater diversity and representation in the entrepreneurship sector of women, Arab Israelis, Orthodox communities and residents of the periphery in Israel.

The Centre will create an entrepreneurial environment which will:

 Connect all the academic disciplines (including the design world of Shenkar) and encourage activities across faculties.

 Will promote business entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, and will help establish new start-ups and organizations.

 Will include graduates who will serve as mentors and faculty members who will serve as consultants, along with companies and organizations that will raise issues from the real world that need solutions.

Four lines in the metro of entrepreneurship – what line would you like to travel?

The centre’s operational model is presented as a four-line metro system, where each student will decide where they want to go and which stations to go through:

  Business Line

 Social Line

 Creative Line (design)

  Basics Line

The winning proposal of Tel Aviv University was the result of cooperation between many units on the TAU campus, including the Coller School of Management, the Unit for Social Involvement at the Ruth and Allen Ziegler Student Services Division, the Student Union, TAU Online, the Alumni Organization, Ramot and TAU Ventures. Space for the new centre’s activities has been allocated at TAU’s Miles S. Nadal Home for Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The Centre will be led by Prof. Yuval Ebenstein of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Chemistry who will be charged with the academic supervision, and Yair Sakov, who will operate the centre. Yair is a TAU graduate with 25 years of experience in senior management positions in high-tech and non-profit organizations, and in initiating and managing a venture capital fund, as well as many years of volunteering experience in the social sector.

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Tel Aviv University

The 4th Issue of our International Newsletter has been published!

Do you know what is ‘I’mPossible Innovation’? Read our English language newsletter and find out!

The 4th Issue of the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization International Newsletter in English has been published and is waiting for you to read it Here>
If you haven’t joined our English mailing list yet, and would like to receive our Newsletter, please Email us your information Here>

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Tel Aviv University

Calling for Attention

A TAU-Japan collaboration seeks to personalize students’ learning experience and enhance their focus and attention

For some years, Shonan Seminar (SHO-zemi), a Japanese network of over 230 K-12 learning centers, has been trying to assess their pupils’ concentration and motivation. They understand that each child’s attention capabilities are different, but how can these be measured precisely? And harder still, how can they be improved on the individual rather than collective level?

To achieve a personalized “attention profile” for each student, SHO-zemi sought out Prof. Lilach Shalev, who runs the Attention Lab at Tel Aviv University’s Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education. Shalev and her team are developing novel methods to not only gauge a person’s attention and cognitive control, but also train and enhance it.

The research of Shalev and her 15 master’s and doctoral students dovetails with one of the most burning challenges in the field of education today: How to personalize learning?

Their work – and indeed the partnership between the Attention Lab and SHO-zemi – feeds into TAU’s Minducate Center for interdisciplinary research on the neuroscience of learning. Minducate is a jointly run by TAU’s Sagol School of Neuroscience and TAU Online–Innovative Learning Center.

Attention, please

In previous years, Shalev focused on learners with ADD and ADHD across the age groups, assessing their cognitive function and control. Now she has widened her investigations to include normative learners. 

“A person doesn’t have to have an attention deficit to be affected by their attention capabilities,” says Shalev.

Attention Lab researchers measure four different types of attention using special software they developed and fine-tuned. The first is “sustained attention” which involves maintaining focus

on a repetitive task for a long period of time. The second is “selective-spatial attention” – the ability to focus on a location-specific person or object while filtering out adjacent distractions. The third is “orienting attention,” which is needed when we have to shift our attention from one stimulus to another in a precise and effective way.

The fourth type is called “executive attention” and is the trickiest for the classroom. Executive attention asks learners to overcome a habitual response when challenged with something new, complex or confusing – such as a new way of interpreting a story or an alternative technique for solving an algebra problem. It’s tricky because it can cause mental conflict as the brain struggles to let in new ideas, or to balance speed-of-absorption with accuracy-of-results.

Shalev and her team have also integrated brain imaging experiments into their testing. Carried out at TAU’s Alfredo Federico Strauss Center for Computational Neuroimaging, the experiments shine a light, literally, on neural mechanisms related to attention.

Ultimately Shalev wishes to help the educational system better serve learners. She and her team are developing training exercises, both computerized and non-computerized, to enhance a student’s attention. Their broader mission is to match every personal attention profile with a personalized attention training program, but in a way that can be scaled up for an entire classroom, school, or even national education system.

SHO-zemi schools: A living laboratory

Through the Japanese collaboration, Shalev is now testing her assessment tools and interventions in a learning environment that embraces advanced technology and progressive teaching methods.

​SHO-zemi’s goal is to apply Shalev’s expertise toward improving student attention and executive function. “A critical aspect of this collaboration is a focus on practical and scalable outcomes that can impact students’ academic performance and empower teachers, even after the research is completed,” says Mr. Yoshi Okamoto from SHO-zemi, who spearheaded the partnership.

 “We’re excited by the opportunity to improve the way students learn across cultures and throughout their lifetimes,” adds Okamoto, who is overseeing both the visits of Shalev in Japan and the training of SHO-zemi staff on the Tel Aviv University campus.

Preliminary studies in Japan last year showed that sustained attention correlates with good reading comprehension – a finding that reproduced similar results in Israel. This year, together with the TAU Attention Lab team, SHO-zemi is creating personal attention profiles for 7th graders at their educational centers in the Greater Tokyo area. Customized recommendations for learning will be provided for each student based on TAU-developed attention training software.

“I believe every person can dramatically improve learning efficiency when taking into account his or her cognitive strengths and weaknesses,” concludes Prof. Shalev.


Shonan Seminar President Mr. Ken Fukumura together with Prof. Shalev

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