BSF saluted at Israeli Embassy event in Washington
Event speakers and honorees, from left: Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; BSF Board Chair Al Teich, Bergmann Award winners Diane Adams and Michael Richter, the Hon. Ofir Akunis, Israel Minister of Science, Technology and Space, and Dr. France Cordova, Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation
In the heart of the nation’s capital, nearly 200 leaders from the worlds of science, education, and diplomacy gathered at the Israeli Embassy to salute BSF for its 40-plus years of funding innovative partnerships between Israeli and American scientists.
The Hon. Ofir Akunis, Israel Minister of Science, Technology and Space, praised BSF as one of the first organizations to recognize the great potential of Israeli scientists.
“It is essential to promote scientific cooperation. This serves us much better than competition,” Akunis said. “I believe that continuing scientific cooperation is important, not only for our mutual benefit, but also for the benefit of all mankind.”
Akunis said that the successful and far-reaching collaborations between U.S. and Israeli scientists have made other nations take notice.
“Now, other nations are starting to recognize the value of working with Israeli scientists. These seeds of cooperation are all thanks to BSF,” he said.
Dr. France Cordova, Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation, said that the quality of scientists that Israel has produced is “especially impressive for a relatively young country,” and that the 44-year U.S.-Israel partnership fostered by BSF is “rare in scientific collaboration.”
Dr. Cordova said that the United States and Israel have shared interests in scientific projects that strengthen security, enhance national economies, and foster innovation in a competitive global world.
“International collaboration is essential in scientific research,” she said. “Scientific programs contain many intricate parts, lots of decisions, and often challenges both large and small. When we combine our intellectual and financial resources, a powerful synergy is formed that can surmount any number of global challenges and obstacles.”
That synergy between the U.S. and Israel is getting even stronger, thanks to 10 new agreements and joint programs that have been finalized between BSF and the NSF. These agreements allow the NSF to fund the U.S. side, and BSF to fund the Israeli side of cooperative projects.
“I often say that the beauty of science is both serendipitous and found in collaborative and diverse partnerships such as the one we have with BSF,” she said. “Its serendipity lies in the unexpected discoveries and solutions we find in basic research that changes and benefits our world, as well as people who are desperately in need of solutions. The United States, and the National Science Foundation look forward to, and are committed to, our continued work in exploring and championing scientific progress in areas important to both our countries.”
Many of the attendees were current and former BSF grantees. Saul Sosnoski, a professor of Latin American literature at the University of Maryland, received BSF funding in 2009 for his research project “Exile, Transnational Migration, and the Transformation of Public Culture,” a joint effort with Hebrew University in Jerusalem that focuses on migration and cultural issues in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
“Without BSF, this project never would have happened,” Sosnowki said.
Prof. Mina Teicher, Director of the Emmy Noether Institute for Mathematics at Bar-Ilan University, was funded by BSF early in her career.
“It put me on a path that I followed throughout my career,” she said. “Because of BSF, I got to meet many other important scientists who really influenced my career.”
Teicher has her own philosophy about why scientists from Israel and the United States work well together.
“We Israeli scientists have chutzpa, and U.S. scientists have brains,” she said, smiling. “Chutzpa and brains are a great combination.”
An overflow crowd of nearly 200 enjoyed the festivities.