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.
Ehud Behar: Reporting from Sun Valley, Idaho—On the Path of Totality
Technion Professor of Astrophysics in the Faculty of Physics, former Director of the Norman and Helen Asher Space Research Institute at the Technion
“The most amazing thing I had ever seen!” said our 16-year-old daughter, Stav. She even thanked us for taking her along. It is quite rare, as you know, for teenagers to admit their parents did anything right. Nine months ago, when the American Astronomical Society announced it would hold its High-Energy Astrophysics Division meeting during the week of August 21, 2017, the date of the full solar eclipse, and inside the path of totality (where the moon covers the sun entirely), we started making travel plans that would take us from our home in Israel to Sun Valley, Idaho.
The eclipse proved to be perfectly timed, as we were just notified that our collaborative project to study cosmic explosions with NASA, through an experiment on the space station, was selected for a concept study out of dozens of submitted proposals. In the spirit of the event, I submitted my talk for the Sun Valley conference on eclipses of quasars.
Assaf Zinger: How Watson Met His Crick
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.
Ilana Golan: Breaking Barriers
When I was 15, my teacher told me girls shouldn’t focus on math and physics. So I did. When I was 18 and serving in the Israel Defense Forces, people told me girls can never become squad commanders. So I did, while becoming the first woman to train all F-16 pilots in Israel. When I was 21, people told me that women shouldn’t travel the world alone. So I did.
I heard a lot of “No” in my life. But I became an engineer, mountain climber, entrepreneur and finished the global triathlon, Ironman.
The Technion (class of 2000) helped prepare me for life’s challenges. I was one of just 9 females and 300 males studying electrical engineering. The Technion is a very demanding school, and I had to work very hard. I learned to fail and get back up. I learned perseverance.
Bottom Line: I learned to aim high, break barriers and make things happen!
Yoram Cedar: Growing Up at the Technion
Technion Guardian, Co-Founder, Omega Point; former EVP and CTO, SanDisk Corp.; Technion B.Sc. and M.Sc., Electrical Engineering and Computer Architecture
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.
Associate Professor Simone Engelender & Professor Herman Wolosker: Married to the Technion—and to Each Other
Both received their M.D. and Ph.D. from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Prof. Engelender: Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases–Rappaport Faculty of Medicine
Prof. Wolosker: Laboratory of Molecular Neurosciences in the 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.
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: I Loved Military Service, But I Love My Lab Even More
Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Program for Biotechnology
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: It’s Always Been the Technion
Ph.D. student in the Korin Lab, Cardiovascular Nanomedicine Engineering
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.
Janet Shatz Snyder: Inspired by Dad
Growing up, our parents took us several times to Israel. Visiting the Technion was always central. We visited the Aerodynamics Laboratory, and watched in awe as the high-tech scientists used a hair dryer to create a simulated wind tunnel. The Technion does so much with so little.
My involvement today is inspired by my father (Paul Shatz), who spent his life engaged with the ATS. When he became president of the Washington, D.C. Region in 2007, he asked me to assist him. Dad focused on bringing younger people into the Chapter. I continue that work by co-chairing the Leadership Development Committee on the ATS National Board, where we created Technion 101, a development and training tool for lay leaders. It is a privilege to serve on the Investment Committee at the national level. Locally, I headed up the SciTech Scholarship Committee, seeking to expose high school students to the Technion through its science summer program.
After retiring from my work at Fannie Mae, my focus was being a mom. With grown children, now is the time to contribute as best I can. When you’re a second-generation ATS supporter, the Technion is in your DNA. It’s not something you discover. It’s who you are.
Jonathan Sohnis: Giving Back
My parents were Zionists, a trait I proudly inherited. We talked about the Technion growing up. So just before graduating from high school, I 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, I was on my way to Israel. I took a preparatory course, passed my entrance exams in Hebrew and was accepted into the faculty of electrical engineering. It was a serious program. But when you’re ideologically motivated, such challenges appear diminished.
Graduating from the Technion, I planned to look for work in Israel. But then I thought, ‘I can do more for Israel by returning to the U.S. and starting a company,’ (back then there was no startup ecosystem). Applying the physics that was demanded of me at the Technion gave me an advantage over my competitors. I made myself a promise: Since I went to the Technion on a scholarship, I would give back when I could.
In 1990, while still growing his electronics business, Altronix, Jonathan established the Jonathan & Edna Sohnis Scholarship. At the age of 40, he became a Technion Guardian—one of the youngest in ATS’s history. He and his wife Edna, an Israeli, have since supported Technion projects in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, stem cell research and other areas. Jonathan served as President of the New York Metropolitan Region and is a member of the ATS National Board and the Technion Board of Governors. He has been recognized with a Technion Honorary Fellowship and an Honorary Doctorate, and was named a Distinguished Fellow of the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering.