Al Teich –
A Scientist and an Avid Photographer Who’s Always Focused on Changing the World for the Better
Ever since he was a young boy, Al Teich has had three primary interests: science, technology, and Israel. As the first person to chair the BSF’s Board of Governors and serve as Chair of the AFBSF Board of Directors at the same time, he now combines all three of those interests.
Al Teich’s passion for science is matched by his love of photography.
When asked about this historic dual role, Teich replies that he “has a hard time saying no to things.” But when you ask others at BSF about him, they’ll tell you that his passion for science, plus his deep understanding of both American and Israeli cultures, make him a natural for these dual positions.
To Teich, both organizations provide opportunities for the scientific communities in the United States and Israel to learn from one another and to collaborate with each other.
“Relative to its size, Israel has one of the largest scientific research investments in the world, along with an enormous amount of scientific talent,” he said. “As far as science is concerned, the United States gets as much out of Israel as Israel gets out of the United States.”
Scientific partnerships have always interested Teich. As a student of both physics and political science at M.I.T., he did his Ph.D. dissertation on scientific collaborations in Europe. This was the beginning of a successful career that has included teaching positions at George Washington University, the State University of New York, and Syracuse University. An internationally-known expert on science and technology policy, he served as Director of Science Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years before retiring in 2011.
Teich’s interest in U.S.-Israel partnerships began more than 20 years ago, when he was invited to a science policy conference in Israel.
“It became very clear to me that many of the things I’d been doing in the U.S. would apply to the scientific community in Israel as well,” he said.
When the U.S. State Department selected Teich to join the BSF Board, he jumped at the opportunity. As a member, he supported the creation of the American Friends of the BSF to help raise more awareness of the BSF in the United States. He has also helped sustain the smooth operation of the Board, which he sees as essential to BSF’s success. One of his proudest accomplishments was helping to select Yair Rotstein as BSF’s executive director.
“Yair has brought the BSF into the 21st Century, both technologically and in its mode of operation,” Teich said.
If science remains one of Teich’s strongest passions, so does photography. Wherever he travels, his camera comes with him. He often snaps photos for the National Press Club, which means he’s photographed some of the world’s most famous political figures, actors, and performers who have spoken there. Actress Goldie Hawn was a particular favorite. Teich remembers her as being “very smart, fascinating, and well-spoken.”
Jill and Al Teich
Like his interest in science, Teich’s love of photography blossomed when he was young.
“I think it was when I was 10 years old,” he said. “I entered a contest to write a jingle for a company that made sneakers. I won the contest, and the camera was the prize. I don’t remember the jingle or the sneakers, but I do remember the camera!”
To Teich, the camera provides a visual way of bringing the world together, just as science enables new, and often transformative, ways of bringing the world together.
“Just like science, cameras have been with me all through my life,” Teich said. “It would be hard to imagine my life without them.”