Born in Petach Tikva, Israel in 1966, Prof. Asaph Aharoni earned a BSc in agronomy (1994) and an MSc (1996) in agricultural sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a PhD (2002) in plant sciences from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, where he also did postdoctoral research. He joined the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Plant Sciences (now Plant and Environmental Sciences) in August of 2004.
Prof. Aharoni focuses on the remarkable diversity of chemicals—such as sugars, fatty and amino acids, and vitamins—produced by plant species worldwide that help plants cope with a changing environment. His insights may one day be translated into methods for increasing the nutritional and health value of plants, of particular interest for developing countries where daily sustenance largely depends on plants. In 2010, Dr. Aharoni participated in an international collaborative effort involving 74 researchers from 38 research institutes that produced the full genome of a wild strawberry plant.
Prof. Aharoni received the James Heineman Research Award for Biological and Biomedical research in 2010 and the Levinson Prize in Biology in 2008. He was the recipient of a European Research Grant for Starting Independent Investigators (2008) and of the Yigal Alon Fellowship awarded by the Council for Higher Education (2005). In 2004, he received the Sir Charles Clore Prize for Outstanding Appointment as Senior Scientist in the Experimental Science. His previous prizes and honors include: the Competitive scholarship for the postdoctoral position from the Centre for Biosystems Genomics (CBSG), the Netherlands (2003), the Plant Research International award (twice, in 2000 and 2001), and the CPRO-DLO Institute award in 1998 and 1999.
Prof. Aharoni has been involved with plants all his life – when he was young he helped his family with the kumquat harvest, played in the shade of the orange groves, and was even “head gardener” of his Scouts group.