The Sussman Family Center for the Study of Environmental Sciences

Brian Berkowitz, Director
The Sam Zuckerberg Professorial Chair in Hydrology

The Sussman Family Center for the Study of Environmental Sciences was established in 1993. Its main goals are to promote, coordinate, and support research on the environment in the Institute in general, and in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research in particular.

In recent years, the Sussman Family Center focused its efforts on supporting the recruitment of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows to carry out research in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research. Linked to this effort, the Sussman Family Center also invested in supporting visits by distinguished scientists from the various environmental science disciplines, both on an individual basis and as part of workshops and symposia organized by the Department. The Sussman Family Center will continue to allocate funds for the acquisition of new equipment, for individual research projects, and to promote scientific interactions between scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and students, both from the Weizmann Institute and from other international centers of environmental research.

In 2009, funding was allocated for the following:

Postdoctoral Award program: The $10,000 postdoctoral award program was established by the Center in 2007 to promote the postdoctoral research of highly talented Israeli Ph.D. graduates. This program is expected to serve as a unique tool for the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research for identifying the best potential candidates for future faculty recruitment. Dr. Itay Halevy from Harvard University and Dr. Nadav Kashtan from the Weizmann Institute of Science were the 2009 recipients of this fellowship.

Equipment: A recent contribution from the Sussman Center was made to enable the department's researchers to have access to a newly-acquired, state-of-the-art computing facility (multi-processor computer cluster "farm") by the Faculty of Chemistry. This is a major facility that will serve heavy computational demands for the next years, including high-resolution climate simulations.

Fellowships: The Sussman Family Center awarded five postdoctoral fellowships, nine Ph.D. scholarships, two M.Sc. scholarships, and fellowships for two Research Associates.

Land Preservation: The unique and pristine landscapes of the Negev desert are endangered due to mining and other human activities. Prof. Emanuel Mazor has continued his efforts, supported by the Sussman Center, to increase awareness of sustainable development in the Negev through research and educational initiatives, and through an effort to obtain UNESCO World Heritage Status for the three craters: Makhtesh Ramon, Makhtesh Gadol, and Makhtesh Katan.

Visitors: During the past year, eleven visiting scientists enriched the activities of the Center by presenting special workshops, colloquia, and seminars. Interactions between Institute scientists and prominent scientists from around the world provide opportunities for discussion, teaching, and training associated with issues at the cutting edge of global environmental research. Visitors to our department came from leading research institutions in North America and Europe, and included:

Prof. Pierre Adler, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Laboratory Sisyphe, Paris, France. Prof. Adler's work includes analytical and numerical modeling of fluid flow and transport of reactive chemicals in fractured and porous geological formations.

Prof. Joe Berry, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Global Ecology, Stanford. Prof. Berry models biosphere-atmosphere interactions and climate change.

Dr. Yevgeny Derminian, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Laboratoire d'Optique Atmospherique, Universite des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, France. Dr. Derminian's research includes atmospheric chemistry and spectral analysis of the atmospheric column, and ground validation of satellite data. Dr. Derminian was invited and hosted as a potential recruit to the department.

Dr. Graham Feingold, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO. Dr. Feingold's interests lie in aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions and implications for climate change. His focus is on process-level studies using high resolution models and observations (aircraft and surface remote sensing) at the cloud scale (10s of meters to 10s of kms). Dr. Feingold is an associate editor of the Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP), a contributor to the Climate Change Science Program, chapter author of the International Aerosol-Precipitation Scientific Assessment Project, and a NOAA representative to EarthCare. He is a member of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) Project and the Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation-Climate (ACPC) steering committees.

Prof. Alberto Guadagnini, Politecnico di Milano, Department of Hydraulic, Environmental, Transportation and Surveying Engineering , Milan, Italy. Prof. Guadagnini's research includes analytical and numerical modeling of groundwater flow and contaminant transport in porous media, focusing on water quality protection.

Dr. Marcelo Guzman, Harvard University, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Boston, MA. Invited lectures on Origin of Life and Prebiotic Metabolism. Dr. Guzman was invited and hosted as a potential recruit.

Prof. Alex Kostinski, Michigan Tech, Department of Physics, Houghton, MI. Prof. Kostinksi's recent research has been in cloud, aerosol, and precipitation physics; radar meteorology; astrophysics; wave propagation in random media; turbulent fluids; adaptive optics; and polarization optics.

Prof. J. Vanderlei Martins, University of Maryland Baltimore County and NASA. Dr. Martin's interests are related to the effect of aerosol particles on cloud formation, development, lifetime, and precipitation. He studies how aerosols influence clouds through microphysical and radiative effects. In particular, his group's scientific research covers several aspects of this topic varying from the microphysical measurement of the aerosol particles. Dr Martins is strongly oriented towards the development of new instrumentation and algorithms for laboratory and field measurements from ground, mountain top, aircraft, and satellite sensors. A number of future satellite missions are currently being developed by his group.

Dr. Lorraine Remer, NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. Remer is a Senior Physical Scientist in the Climate and Radiation Branch of Goddard's Laboratory for Atmospheres. She is the head of the EOS-MODIS aerosol product. During the past 15 years, she has contributed to some of the key breakthrough studies in climate and climate change, and, in particular, in remote sensing of aerosols from satellites.

Prof. Eli Tziperman, Harvard University, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Boston, MA. Prof. Tziperman studies large-scale climate and ocean dynamics, including El Niño, thermohaline circulation, abrupt climate change, glacial cycles and equable climates; and advanced methods of ocean data assimilation.

Dr. Warren Wiscombe, NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. Wiscombe is a former chief scientist of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program (ARM) and the former president of the Atmospheric Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). His research has centered on remote sensing and radiative transfer of clouds, single scattering theory, and the development of new satellite system concepts. In particular, 3D radiative fields of clouds and the effect of such photon fields on the surrounding cloud free atmosphere, modeling of cloud liquid water structure, and the resultant shortwave radiation field.

Conferences: The Sussman Family Center supported a conference/workshop that was co-organized by scientists and students from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research: "Forest management and the water cycle: Water issues in dryland forestry." The workshop was held in Sde Boker on November 9-12, 2009. Our contribution permitted free attendance to Israeli students. Prof. Dan Yakir was a key participant of this workshop.