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Tel Aviv University

The 50th International Physics Olympiad has opened in Tel Aviv

Hosted and academically managed by the School of Physics and Astronomy

78 delegations of high school students from all over the world have arrived in Tel Aviv to display their talents in experimental and theoretical physics and to compete for the prestigious medals.

The event, from 7-15 of July, is being led by Prof. Alexander Palevski of the School of Physics and Astronomy, with the dedicated assistance of academic, technical, and administrative staff from the School, from Tel-Aviv University for Youth, and from the Ministry of Education.

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Tel Aviv University

TAU one of top 20 universities worldwide in scientific impact

QS World University Rankings assess performance of over 1,000 universities in 82 locations worldwide

The 16th edition of the QS World University Rankings, released this month by higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, revealed that Tel Aviv University has broken into the world’s top 20 universities for “Citations per Faculty,” which measures the impact of research produced by faculty members. Among the six Israeli universities represented in this year’s rankings, TAU also most improved its overall position from last year, rising 11 places to rank 219th out of 1,001 universities surveyed.

 

TAU also achieved the highest mark in Israel for “Employer Reputation,” ranking 235th globally in this indicator.

 

The rankings are produced by the global higher education consultancy QS Quacquarelli Symonds and provide assessments of the world’s top 1,000 universities. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the world’s leading institution of higher learning for the eighth consecutive year.

 

One of the world’s top 100 universities

According to Ben Sowter, director of research at QS, “Israel is one of the world’s most innovative nations, and one of the most prolific for research output as measured by number of scientific papers per million citizens. It also boasts one of the highest ratios of scientists and technicians among the employed population, underlying its status as a world-class tech hub whose competitive edge is also attributable to the quality of research produced by its leading universities.

 

“Being home to one of the world’s top 100 universities for citations per faculty metric, which measures the productivity and impact of research faculty, is testament to this outstanding infrastructure.”

 
The universities were assessed according to feedback provided by 94,000 academics and 44,000 hiring managers; 11.8 million research papers; 100 million citations; and trends in the distribution of 23 million students and 2 million faculty

 

 

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Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University Ranks Among World’s Top 20 for Research Impact

The QS World University Rankings assess the performance of over 1000 universities in 82 locations worldwide

The 16th edition of the QS World University Rankings, released today by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, sees Tel Aviv University breaking into the world’s top 20 in Citations per Faculty indicator, which measures the impact of research produced. TAU came in 19th. Out of the six Israeli universities represented in this year’s rankings, TAU also most improved its overall position from last year – rising 11 places to rank 219th out of 1001 universities worldwide. 

 

In terms of Employer Reputation, TAU also achieved the highest mark nationally, ranking 235th globally in this indicator.

 

The rankings, produced by global higher education consultancy QS Quacquarelli Symonds, assess the world’s top 1000 universities. Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the world’s leading institution of higher learning for the eighth consecutive year.

 

According to Ben Sowter, Director of Research at QS, “Israel is one of the world’s most innovative nations, and one of the most prolific for research output as measured by number of scientific papers per million citizens. It also boasts one of the highest ratios of scientists and technicians among the employed population, underlying its status as a world-class tech hub whose competitive edge is also attributable to the quality of research produced by its leading universities.

 

“Being home to one of the world’s top 100 universities for citations per faculty metric, which measures the productivity and impact of research faculty, is testament to this outstanding infrastructure.”

 

The universities were assessed according to feedback by 94,000 academics and 44,000 hiring managers; 11.8 million research papers; 100 million citations, and trends in the distribution of 23 million students and 2 million faculty.

 

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Tel Aviv University

BOG 2019: Yehuda Naftali Botanic Garden Dedicated

A major gift by entrepreneur and philanthropist Yehuda Naftali will transform the Garden into an Israeli national landmark

Mr. Yehuda Naftali, an Israeli-American real estate entrepreneur, dedicated Tel Aviv University’s Botanic Garden in his name in the framework of the 2019 Board of Governors meeting. A true oasis in the heart of Tel Aviv, the Garden is a living laboratory for plant sciences research and a vital resource for nature conservation and public education in Israel.

 

Outgoing TAU President Joseph Klafter said, “The Yehuda Naftali Garden will serve as a cornerstone of the University’s research and educational activities in biodiversity. The newly-modernized facilities will give a substantial boost to plant sciences and sustainable development, and especially to innovations in food security.  We can’t wait to see the dramatic improvements that will come about thanks to the generous gift.”

 

Mr. Naftali described his reasons for supporting the Botanic Garden, including his growing up on a kibbutz and job as a shepherd, which was his first connection with nature. “Now I’ve come full circle to be part of this Botanic Garden,” he said. “The entire Garden is like one giant laboratory, and I’m really excited that it will serve as an educational center for people to learn about nature, particularly children from the big cities who sometimes believe that food grows in the supermarkets!” 

 

Upgrading a high-traffic site

The Garden is already a vibrant national attraction with over 10,000 visitors per year. With the opening last year of the adjacent Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, this number could increase to 300,000, potentially making the Garden the most high-traffic site of its kind in the country.

​Yehuda Naftali planting a tree at the inauguration ceremony

 

The Naftali funding will enable sweeping improvements of the Garden’s research, teaching and conservation facilities. In addition, a perpetual endowment fund will ensure the long-term mission of advancing agricultural, conservation and sustainable development research, together with educating new generations on ecological and environmental issues.

 

A resident of Los Angeles, Yehuda Naftali has more than 40 years of experience in the real estate business. He founded Big Shopping Centers, Ltd., in 1994, and BIG Shopping Centers USA, Inc., in 2010. He serves as the Chairman of the Board for both companies. Mr. Naftali translated his accomplishments in the United States into even greater success in Israel, where he pioneered the open-air shopping center concept.

 

“The Garden will be redeveloped and flourish, and will help Planet Earth and humankind. Thank you all for coming to celebrate with me,” he concluded. 

Featured image: Yehuda Naftali (left) and outgoing President Joseph Klafter

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STEM,Tel Aviv University

It’s Simple Math

TAU is pursuing creative ways to get more girls interested in STEM subjects

Whoops and cheers rip through the room as industrial engineering student Merav David looks on with amusement. She has just told 60 teenage girls on a tour of TAU’s Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering that women are by far the highest achievers among the students in her third-year class. The girls on the tour study advanced math and science in Bat Yam high schools – defying the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This gap is evident from an early age and carries through university, where women represent fewer than 25% of STEM graduates in developed countries worldwide, even as they outnumber men in study programs overall. Starting young is critical according to Prof. Rachel Gali Cinamon, Head of TAU’s Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education: “The current system misses out on girls. We must engage them before they are tracked into non-STEM fields.”

 

A new TAU program, “Girls Think Science,” is designed to spark girls’ interest in STEM subjects during the golden window of learning from 3rd to 6th grade. Girls from Israel’s social and geographic periphery, including Arabs and Orthodox Jews, enjoy experiential learning at STEM labs, guided by female students and researchers. The program expands upon engineering tours that Dr. Dana Ashkenazi of the School of Mechanical Engineering has been organizing on a volunteer basis for the past decade at TAU’s Engineering Faculty. Girls attending the tours get answers to questions such as “why is the sky blue?” at Prof. Avishay Eyal’s Optics & Photonics Lab, guided by doctoral student Lihi Shiloh; see the inner workings of the body with 3D printing of biological organs at Dr. Orna Sharabani-Yosef’s Tissue Engineering Lab; and encounter artificial intelligence (AI) robots at Dr. Goren Gordon’s Curiosity Lab.

 

During her PhD studies in the 1990s, Dr. Ashkenazi was the lone woman in a class of 40. This experience motivated her to introduce girls to the joys of science in the hope of recruiting more women to STEM. “My parents exposed me to scientific and engineering topics from a young age. But still, as a mother, I could see my daughters being steered toward humanities tracks at school. I tell them they can do whatever they set their minds to, but society says something else. Girls begin to question themselves, their abilities and their chances to succeed.”

 

Questioning one’s ability to succeed influences the high rate of attrition that increases with each higher education milestone among women in STEM. Prof. Cinamon, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Science & Technology, studied this phenomenon and developed unique interventions for all stages of academic development, from BSc through post-doc. Interventions range from mentorship to reframing the post-doc as a unique family experience. “Among undergrads, MScs, and PhDs we found that academic identity – rather than academic achievement – is the major factor deter-mining whether a student will pursue higher level STEM studies. Women may have phenomenal grades and academic achievements, yet still may believe they are not good enough.”

 

The post-doc hurdle

But what are women’s chances of making it in STEM? The TAU President’s Advisor on Gender Equity Prof. Ilana Eli runs the numbers: “Women represent 54% of PhD candidates at TAU, but less than 50% of TAU lecturers and only 22% of professors. In STEM fields these percentages drop precipitously, with some departments employing only one female faculty member among nearly 50 men.

 

“These numbers reflect the past – professors today began their careers more than two decades ago. Yet these numbers also influence the future – our female students lack role models showing the academic path as accessible to women, especially in STEM,” says Eli. The postdoc is the most formidable obstacle for Israeli women in academia. By the time they complete their PhDs many are starting a family and a postdoc placement of two to four years abroad can seem untenable. TAU is now helping by awarding yearly stipends of $25,000 each for women postdocs in STEM.

 

“We grant five stipends annually. But deserving candidates are double that number and we wish we could grant more,” says Prof. Eli.

 

Other programs include a joint post doc in which women conduct research abroad under the auspices of a foreign university as well as at TAU, thus cutting the need for a multiyear relocation. The President’s office also sponsors stipends for travel with a nursing baby and caregiver, enabling new mothers to participate in international conferences essential for establishing themselves in academia.

 

Changing reality

TAU scientists are eager to boost the number of female faculty through Girls Think Science. “It’s simple math: The larger the pool of girls exposed to STEM, the greater the chance of women choosing to go into STEM fields, both in industry and academia,” says Prof. Shiri Artstein-Avidan, the only female full professor of pure math among over 40 professors at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Mathematical Sciences and a 2016 Kadar Family Award winner. “My father is a mathematician. I want to bring girls who were not brought up in a scientific milieu to this fascinating world.”

 

Dr. Vered Padler-Karavani of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences did not enjoy access to science in her home or local school. She grew up in a development town and discovered science through TAU’s long-running Dov Lautman Unit for Science Oriented Youth (now Youth University). “Starting early is important, as is having someone to look up to,” says Padler-Karavani. That is why she volunteers as Chair of ISEF—the Israeli Scholarship Education Foundation—which seeks to expand STEM among youth in Israel’s periphery. She is eager to host Girls Think Science participants in her lab where she studies how to target diseased cells through their protein and sugar coatings.

 

Role models are crucial, maintains Dr. Ashkenazi. “We hold our tours in the presence of female faculty members and students as mentors.” Ashkenazi believes that the program must engage students from Israel’s periphery, not just from the urban, affluent areas of central Israel because, “When it comes to these subjects, just being a girl places you in the periphery.”


Featured image: High school girls from Bat Yam touring the teaching laboratory at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering

 

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