Faces of the Technion
Students, faculty, alumni, and supporters tell us how they first got interested in the Technion and how their affiliation with the university changed their lives.
Yoram Cedar : Technion Guardian, Alumnus, and Tech Leader
The Technion is my second home. Growing up in Haifa, I frequently visited the Technion campus, where my father, Professor Israel Cederbaum, was a pioneering member and Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. My childhood memories are filled with faculty events and holiday celebrations. My wife Zahava and I were married at the Technion. For me and for my family, the Technion was not only an academic journey, it has been an amazing life journey and the faculty have been my extended family.
The seeds for my career were planted during my childhood and teenage years. My summer fun was working at the Technion Digital Design Lab, the first of is kind in Israel. My love for electronics and engineering started in those days. I was fascinated by science and inspired by technology and innovation. It was my formative years at the Technion that shaped my character, interests and professional aspirations. My commitment to the Technion and to Israel is long lasting.
Simone Engelender: Associate Professor
Herman Wolosker: Professor
Associate Professor Simone Engelender
M.D.and Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases- Rappaport Faculty of Medicine)
We started dating when we were 13 and 14. We grew up together in the same Brazilian Jewish community, attended the same Zionist youth movement and studied medicine at the same University. We did our Ph.D.s in the same lab. We both chose research over practicing medicine as we love innovation, and continued for post docs at Johns Hopkins. We both became neuroscientists, but our labs are entirely separate. We immigrated to Israel 15 years ago and have been at the Technion ever since.
Professor Herman Wolosker
M.D. and Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Laboratory of Molecular Neurosciences- Rappaport Faculty of Medicine) and Coordinator, Prince Center for Neurodegenerative Disorders of the Brain
We both spoke at a conference in Eilat. Whoever wasn’t lecturing was in the pool with the kids (four and one on the way). We are a sort of living experiment. We’re the same age, with the exact same background so we’re perfectly positioned to see how society approaches women differently. This certainly enriches both of us and improves the way we educate the children.
Nitzan Krinsky : Ph.D. Student
As a biotech research undergraduate student, I loved the lab life. Then I went into the army and served for six years. At the end of my service I had to decide whether to pursue a military career or return to academia—a big dilemma. I decided that continuing at the Technion was a great opportunity for me. In Professor Avi Schroeder’s research group, we’re developing therapeutic particles which serve as ‘factories’ capable of producing medicine inside a patient’s body.
I still serve in the reserves, but my decision to pursue my dream, to become a scientist, was right for me. Lab work can be daunting when things don’t work so easily. Which is why when they do—it’s so amazing! You’ve been trying to do something for weeks or even months, you make a little change, try again, then one day it does what it was supposed to do and you get the result you were hoping for! It is a feeling of great accomplishment.
Maria Khoury Salameh: Ph.D. Student
Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to study at Technion. I studied physics and electronics in high school in Haifa, and it was a natural step for me to apply to the Technion. I chose biomedical engineering and felt right at home as soon as I entered. I felt that I belonged. The more I studied, the more I discovered that knowledge was unlimited. At the same time, I learned to believe in myself. This humbling experience motivated me to study more and to work harder.
I had a great advisor, a Ph.D. researcher named Netanel Korin. But while I continued for an M.Sc. in biomedical engineering, he left for a postdoc at Harvard. After my master’s, I worked at the Faculty of Medicine then decided to continue for a Ph.D. At that point, Prof. Korin was back at the Technion as a faculty member and I became the first Ph.D. student in his newly established lab.
Assaf Zinger : Ph.D. Student
It was October 2012. I was supposed to give the speech at my graduation ceremony, so I went to the barbershop at the Technion to get a haircut. The barber was a friend of mine and I overheard her talking to Professor Avi Schroeder about his research at the Technion. Avi described the merging of basic science and engineering for solving major problems in the clinic. I was intrigued. I introduced myself, and Avi invited me to visit the lab and chat over coffee. I’m like, ‘are you serious?’
Things happen, so now I’m a Ph.D. student in his lab, starting to look for my postdoc position. He was at my wedding and I asked him to sign my ketubah. It was a great honor for me. I took my future and put it in his hands.
Janet Shatz Snyder : ATS Leader
Janet Shatz Snyder was a young woman when her parents, Paul and Deane Shatz, first took her to the Technion. Visiting the Aerodynamics Laboratory, she watched in awe as the high-tech scientists used a hair dryer to create a simulated wind tunnel. “It was an unusual image,” she recalls, and one that stuck with her. “The Technion does so much with so little!”
In recent years, Janet has become a pillar of the American Technion Society (ATS) Washington, D.C. Region — following in the footsteps of her father, a Technion Guardian. Janet regularly hosts ATS events and board meetings, is a graduate of the ATS 21st Century Leadership Development Program, and serves on both the local and national Boards. Most recently, she has taken the initiative to head up the SciTech Scholarship Committee in Washington, D.C., with the aim of getting to know prospective students and enhancing the marketing of scholarships in the local community. She is also involved in the Training and Mentoring Working Group of the National Leadership Development Committee, where she is helping to create a “Technion 101” orientation guide for newcomers.
Janet says she became active in 2007, when her father took the helm as the Washington, D.C. Regional President. Her first mission, at her father’s directive, was to help him bring younger people into the chapter. “If we honor those who came before us through our actions and commitment, the Technion will continue to flourish and grow,” she says.
“Janet brings enormous energy and passion to everything she takes on for our ATS chapter. She applies her marketing skill and capacity for strategic thinking and planning to everything we do, to make sure it is purposeful,” says Sol Glasner, current President of the Washington, D.C. Region. “As the leader of our chapter’s SciTech recruitment activity, Janet laid out the broad objectives and calibrated every execution detail, in order to maximize the opportunity for positive outcomes.”
Growing up in St. Louis (the family moved to D.C. in 1987), Janet was made aware of the world around her by her mother, Deane, who was involved with the World Affairs Council there. “My mom would open her doors to Iranian pilots (McDonnell Douglas is based in St. Louis), Vietnamese teachers and students from all over the world,” she says. Janet and her husband, Dan, have continued to serve as hosts, opening their home in Bethesda to guests from all over, including Israeli students.
Janet is pursuing a master’s degree in art history from Towson University (outside of Baltimore), and already holds an M.B.A. from George Washington University. She spent the bulk of her professional career at Fannie Mae, where she created the nationwide trading desk for mortgage-backed securities and headed up the company’s marketing. She managed the business as she does her ATS outreach — building relationships one person at a time. “I take the one-on-one marketing approach,” which she credits the ATS for having mastered.
Retired from her career, Janet is now focused on giving back. “My involvement is inspired by my father,” she says. In addition to his many gifts as a Technion Guardian, which include passionate support for Israeli veterans and student soldiers, among other projects, Paul is a past President and Chairman of the D.C. Region, a former member of the ATS National Board of Directors and an Honorary Life Member of the Technion Board of Governors.
As her father did with her, she involves her children — Glenn, Libby and Brook — in the ATS, and urges others to do the same. “When you’re a second-generation supporter, the ATS is with you from the time you are young and it’s in your DNA,” she says. “It’s not something you discover. It’s who you are.”
Jonathan Sohnis : Technion Guardian and Alumnus
Most philanthropists make their money before giving it away, but Jonathan Sohnis did it the other way around. Jonathan started supporting the Technion through the American Technion Society (ATS) while he was still building his business, and became a Technion Guardian by the age of 40 — one of the youngest in the organization’s history. “It was risky, but I felt it was important. Maybe it drove me to make sure I would succeed,” he says.
A Technion graduate (’79), Jonathan says his rigorous training in math and physics gave him a leg up on his competitors when he co-founded Altronix with fellow Technion Guardian Alan Forman in 1983. The Brooklyn-based high-tech company, which designs and manufactures electronics for video surveillance, security and other fire life/safety applications, became immensely successful, enabling him and his wife Edna to support the Technion and Israel.
“The Technion has always been essential in building Israel’s sophisticated defense and high-tech economy,” he says. “If you build the economy, Israel becomes stronger as a nation.”
Jonathan grew up in a Zionistic family, where his father spoke of the Technion’s excellence. So one week before graduating high school, Jonathan phoned the ATS and asked: “How do I go about applying to the Technion?” A week later, speaking no Hebrew other than the traditional prayers, he was on his way to Israel. After studying in the Technion preparatory program for three months, he took his entrance exams — in Hebrew — and was accepted into the electrical engineering faculty, among the most challenging at the university.
“It was a serious program,” he says of student life at the time. “But if you’re ideologically motivated, everything else is inconsequential.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree, he thought: “Israel’s industries were sparsely privatized, which limited opportunities. I can do more for Israel if I apply my technical abilities and sense of entrepreneurship in the U.S. to start a company, and build the financial engine necessary to support Israel and the Technion.” Not long after launching his business, he found his way to the ATS Manhattan office. He saw a need, and stepped in. Fundraising efforts were inefficient because its fundraising resource application program and the wide area computer network system on which it ran weren’t up to par. Drawing from his technological background, Jonathan helped upgrade the system; then he kept on working.
“Through the support of my colleagues at the Technion and ATS, I was able to bring forth new projects. The success of these initiatives flowed from this synergism,” he says.
He was President of the New York Metropolitan Region from 1999-2001. Currently, he is a member of the National Board of Directors and a member of several committees, including Technology, which he led for at least a decade, and Grants, which he co-chairs. He serves the Technion Board of Governors on its Academic Advisory Committee. He was also involved with the Technion’s proposal to build a center for nanotechnology, and has since served on the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.
Jonathan attended the Technion on scholarship, and in 1990 made his first gift — the Jonathan Sohnis Scholarship Fund. His only request of the recipients is that they read a letter he wrote at the establishment of the fund, asking them to consider giving as their future financial status enables. In the early 2000s, he established the Sohnis Chair in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, the Sohnis Family Laboratory for Cardio Electro-Physiology and Regenerative Medicine, and with his close friend and business partner, created the Sohnis and Forman Families Center of Excellence for Stem Cell and Tissue Regeneration Research. Later on, Jonathan supported the Edna and Jonathan Sohnis Promising Scientists Programs, among other projects.
“When people succeed in the financial sense that the world interprets as successful, there is a moral obligation to understand that we are but a vehicle to manage this good fortune for better causes,” he says.
Jonathan and Edna, who is Israeli, raised three daughters speaking only Hebrew at home in NY. For his service and contributions to the Technion, Jonathan was recognized with a Technion Honorary Fellowship and an Honorary Doctorate, and was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering.