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Blavatnik awards to Weizmann scientists

Prof. Erez Berg and Dr. Michal Rivlin receive prestigious award for innovative young Israeli scientists



Date: February 17, 2019
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Prof. Erez Berg of the Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Dr. Michal Rivlin of the Department of Neurobiology have received the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists in Israel, an annual prize awarded by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The award, which comes with $100,000 in unrestricted research funding, is given to three promising scientists and engineers aged 42 and younger in Israel in three categories: life sciences, chemistry, physical sciences and engineering. Dr. Rivlin received the life sciences award and Prof. Berg won the physical sciences and engineering award; the chemistry prize went to Prof. Moran Bercovici at the Technion.

Dr. Rivlin’s research is making major strides in understanding sight, in particular the retina, the part of the eye where all visual processes begin. She has found that retinal cells, rather than being fixed and hardwired, are malleable and can dramatically change their properties in response to stimuli like light and motion. Her work has implications for retinal disease and blindness, and the development of computer vision technologies.

Prof. Berg has conducted creative and influential studies to gain insights into quantum materials—materials whose electronic properties cannot be characterized by traditional physics. His research holds major promise for devising new ways of storing and manipulating quantum information, with implications for a new computing age, as well as next-generation electronics, superconducting power lines, and MRI technologies.

“For over 70 years, Israeli innovation has led to groundbreaking discoveries in science and technology,” says Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. “These exceptional researchers demonstrate the immense potential of the new generation of scientists in shaping the future. It is imperative to recognize and supporting leading innovators early in their careers to maximize impactful scientific breakthroughs.”

The awards are conferred at a ceremony in Jerusalem on April 7.

Prof. Erez Berg is supported by Swiss Society of Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science and the European Research Council.

Dr. Michal Rivlin is supported by Dr. and Mrs. Alan Leshner, the Peter and Patricia Gruber Awards, the Soref New Scientists Start up Fund, the Charles and David Wolfson Charitable Trust, and the European Research Council. She is the incumbent of the Sara Lee Schupf Family Chair.