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A celebration of excellence and accomplishment

Weizmann Institute awards seven honorary PhDs during International Board week



Date: November 19, 2020

The Weizmann Institute of Science bestowed honorary doctorates on seven esteemed individuals whose contributions to society are remarkable and hail from around the world. The degrees of PhD honoris causa were conferred during an online ceremony on November 17 during the 72nd Annual General Meeting of the International Board.

The 2020 PhD laureates are:

Meir Shalev, one of Israel’s most prolific and highly acclaimed writers, whose life’s work reflects the beauty and rich intricacies of Israel—the land and its people—through stories read by generations of children and adults. The winner of many prestigious literary awards in Israel and abroad, Meir applies the same mastery of language and incisive perception to his long-standing column in Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend supplement where he critically analyzes government policies, particularly in the areas of education and culture, nature and the environment, and religion and state.


Prof. Dame Carol Robinson, a chemist renowned for her groundbreaking research in structural biology and for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool in chemical biology research. Her research has opened a new scientific field—gas-phase structural biology—and provided structural insight into a range of otherwise intractable biological assemblies. The first female Professor of Chemistry at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, Carol has not only contributed immensely to the world of science, but conducts mentorship programs, serves as a role model for young scientists, and is an outspoken advocate for women in science.


Shirin Natour Hafi, an innovative educational leader whose unflagging efforts have contributed to reduced violence and a dramatic growth in the number of Arab youth in the city of Lod who are eligible for high school matriculation. Raised in a Muslim family and having attended a Catholic elementary school and a Jewish high school—and with a degree in Hebrew literature from Bar-Ilan University—Shirin possesses a uniquely deep understanding of the different communities that comprise Israeli society. She has devoted her life to fostering unity and strengthening the identity of Arab youth by addressing their emotional, social, and educational needs, paving the way for hundreds of students to achieve great heights.


Gideon J. Hamburger, a distinguished business and community leader, who has channeled his resources and influence to benefit a wide range of educational, cultural, and scientific causes in Israel. His role as President of the Israeli insurance giant Harel Insurance and Finance Group has earned him the respect and esteem of the business world in Israel and abroad. Gideon has been a Board member of the Weizmann Institute since 1986, and a Life Member of the International Board since 2018, and has served on multiple management committees. He was previously Chair of the Israeli Friends Assocation. He sits on the Board of many institutions, including the Weizmann Institute, Bar-Ilan University, the Israeli Opera, and the Tel Aviv Museum.


Sir Marc Feldmann, a prominent immunologist at the University of Oxford whose discovery of the role of TNFα in inflammation and joint destruction led to the development of a powerful treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, which has helped improve the quality of life of millions of patients. He continues to be a treasured leader of the world scientific community, extensively collaborating with Weizmann scientists, and avidly supporting the groundbreaking immunological research on campus.


Catherine Beck, one of the Weizmann Institute’s pillars of support and leadership, both in Israel and in her native Canada. A dedicated philanthropist for more than four decades, Cathy has given generously to the Institute and served as the Chair of the Board of Weizmann Canada from 2010 to 2016, spearheading and overseeing a period of extraordinary growth and development. Under her leadership, Weizmann Canada surpassed its fundraising goals, increased engagement, and raised awareness for the Weizmann Institute of Science across the country. During this Annual General Meeting of the International Board, she was elected Chair of the International Boards. Following in the footsteps of her late parents and establishing new visionary goals, she continues to contribute tirelessly to securing the future of the Weizmann Institute.


Dr. Uriel (Uri) Arnon, an esteemed engineer, who has made significant contributions to the development of the Israeli materials industry. A member of the International Board since 2014, Uri, along with his wife Ruth, is an esteemed part of the Weizmann community and a long-term supporter of the Institute. Deeply committed to advancing the future of Israeli science through youth education, Uri and Ruth established the Ruth and Uriel Arnon Science Education Campus at the Weizmann Institute, which houses the Schwartz/ Reisman Science Education Center, Rehovot, a science learning center that offers advanced science curricula for high-school students from Rehovot and Ness Ziona.