Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie

Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie

This summer, Israel is again compelled to ­­­­defend itself against a barrage of missile attacks aimed at civilian populations. Once again, the Iron Dome defensive anti-missile system saves countless civilian lives. Iron Dome was developed by the excellent engineers at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, most of whom are Technion graduates. In addition, a vast underground network of terror tunnels, many of them directly threatening Israeli children, women and men, was revealed and had to be neutralized. In this arena also, Technion scientists are helping lead the effort to harness scientific innovation to thwart this  threat.

We deeply mourn the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in this conflict, and wish for the speedy and full recovery of all the wounded.

Hundreds of Technion students were called for active reserve duty to help defend our nation, and we are making every possible effort to smooth their return to studies. We were also profoundly encouraged by the numerous expressions of support we received throughout the operation from the worldwide Technion family whose friendship never wavers, culminating in a solidarity delegation from the American Technion Society under the leadership of Larry Jackier the chairman of the Technion International Board of Governors.

We were also particularly moved by the many guests from the world’s four corners who came to celebrate the festive graduation of the 2014 class of the Technion International School. At the ceremony, it was clear to me that something new – truly global and extremely gifted – has taken form. Technion will continue to serve as an institution with a passion to work on behalf of all peoples.

Chairman of the first Technion Society Albert Einstein once said that: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” At Technion, we are proud of what has been called our ability to ‘think out of the box.’ The challenges and opportunities of tomorrow will depend on this Technion capacity for new thinking about old problems. In the issue of Technion Live, you will find a sample of this ingenuity in action. When we trust in this, a better future for all humanity is not a dream but a real possibility.


Peretz Lavie

Technion International Celebrates Class of 2014

“Ready to move mountains”

On August 7, 2014, Technion International celebrated the graduation of its second cohort of the BSc in Civil and Environmental Engineering, a four-year degree program taught entirely in English at the Technion. The talented group of 19 represent nearly all corners of the world, having come from Albania, Italy, Spain, Norway, India, and South Africa,  and as far away as Venezuela, China, South Korea.

Students, families, distinguished faculty members, university staff and friends gathered at the Winston Churchill Auditorium last Thursday for the unique commencement ceremony. Cheerful and excited voices could be heard in nearly a dozen different languages all along the aisles.

Opening remarks were given by Prof. Anat Rafaeli, the current Head of Technion International, who greeted the graduates, their family members and distinguished guests, among them Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie, Prof. Moshe Sidi, Senior Executive VP of Technion, Prof. Arnon Bentur, founder and former head of Technion International, Prof. Oded Rabinovitch, Dean of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Faculty, Prof. Zvi-Pinhas Bar-Yoseph, Dean of the Mechanical Engineering Faculty, and Prof. Maxim Shoshany, from the Faculty of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Academic Director of Technion International. Prof. Rafaeli showed the exponential growth of Technion International in numbers, from 19 undergraduate students beginning their English BSc studies in 2009 (its founding year) to 120 students enrolled in the program today, for example, and that these numbers are expected to grow to 400 by 2020. She also emphasized how proud the Technion is of the tremendous achievements of this graduating group and stressed the university’s commitment to educating the next generation of engineers and scientists who will make profound contributions to science and technology.

BARK8702Addressing the graduating class she said, “You have really excelled – five of you have been accepted to graduate studies at leading schools in Canada, the US and Britain while four of you will continue your graduate studies here at the Technion and others of you have already found jobs in the field. We are all very proud of you.”

Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie told graduates, “Technion International is one of the Technion’s projects aimed at fulfilling its mission of being a world-class university, and you (speaking to the graduates) are proof of this. You have come from all over the world, as far away as China, South Korea , South America, and South Africa and from near (Europe), and have done extremely well. Many of you are on the President’s and Dean’s lists – it’s no wonder that you were accepted to graduate studies at great universities.”

Prof. Lavie also talked about the where do we go from here, “The feeling of accomplishment that you have now, after completing this engineering degree, may be compared to that of a mountaineer who has reached the summit after an exhausting climb. Once on the top he can look back down the slope and say to himself “I did it” – I made it through algebra, physics and earthquake engineering and fulfilled my dream. He may then look beyond the summit and try to predict how his professional life will look like 20 years from now. I predict that the world will continue to change in a ‘dizzying rate’ – the 21st century is a time for rapid change. The knowledge you acquired here at the Technion will provide you with the tools you will need to be able to adapt to the rapidly changing world.”

He also expressed his insights on the future of their field, “There is a great importance to this field today. As part of and at JTCII (Jacobs Technion Cornell Innovation Institute) – a joint partnership between Technion and Cornell in Manhattan, an advanced degree program on the “urban environment” will be offered. And next year TGIT (Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology), our jointly run university in China, will open and the first undergraduate program it will offer is civil and environmental engineering.”

Three musical performances were given at the ceremony, one by two of tonight’s graduating students, Yuting Wang from China, who played the clarinet on the Technion Orchestra, and Yunzhou Zhang on guitar, also from China. The “Black & White” band, made up of Technion students, sang two classic songs, one in French and the other in Hebrew.

Ariel Geva, the Director of Technion International, reiterated the rapid growth of Technion International’s English programs and said that “This may be the last class I and other members of the staff here will know each of the students by name.” Speaking to the graduates he said warmly, “I want you all to know that you will always be welcome at Technion, and I wish you all much success.”

Micaël Zollmann from South Africa was the class valedictorian. Here are some experts of his heartfelt speech: “It is an honor and privilege for me to represent this class who has become like family… We were all in it together and we succeeded and suffered together naturally as if we came from the same place… I couldn’t categorize you as a group, because you are all truly ‘remarkable’ – you were willing to embrace the unknown, coming to a country that for most of us was an 8 hour flight back home, and have done amazing things like building a canoe out of concrete and winning a national competition… I believe you’ll all go on to do great things and tonight I feel I’m surrounded by winners… We all benefited from being in each other’s lives and tonight may be the last night we are all here together as a group. Thank you to Technion International, you’ve done a fantastic job… I’d like to end with this quote from Dr. Seuss, ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose…’” To this he added “And so there is no need to worry about what the future holds, for you are all far too clever.”

Professors Oded Rabinovitch and Maxim Shoshany awarded the diplomas to the class of nineteen, made up of 11 female students and eight male students of which six came from China and five from Italy: Fjordi Bisha from Albania,Yunzhou Zhang (Cum Laude), QianLi Yu, Sifang Shan, Tianchen Yu (Cum Laude), Ke Ji, and Yuting Wang (Cum Laude) all from China, Tanya Ahuja, (Cum Laude) from India, Nathan Nacamulli, Hanna Levy (Cum Laude), Manuela Olga Vaturi (Cum Laude), Tamar Ottolenghi (Cum Laude), and Elisa Tagliacozzo (Summa Cum Laude) all from Italy, Jonathan Savosnick, (Summa Cum Laud) from Norway, Micaël Zollmann from South Africa, JiYeon Ha from South Korea, Paula Barmaimon, (Cum Laude) from Spain, Tenzin Lobsang from Tibet, and Isaac Gabay from Venezuela.

Technion International was founded in 2009, and its academic programs are taught entirely in English. It offers undergraduate studies, semester abroad, research internships, study tours, advanced summer school programs and a variety of graduate studies. To date there are some 720 students enrolled in these programs, not including the study tours organized in collaboration with leading universities around the world. Technion International is also the first point of contact with international postdocs.

Shanghai Ranking 2014: Technion consolidates its place among the world’s top universities

Ranked 18th in the world in computer science; moves up to 43rd place in engineering

The Technion has consolidated its position as one of the world’s 100 best universities, according to the 2014 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) published last Friday (August 15, 2014). The ranking reveals a number of interesting facts about Technion’s position in the global academic elite:

  • In the field of computer science the Technion ranked 18th in the world for the third consecutive year. This is the highest ranking given to an Israeli institution in any field.
  • In the engineering field the Technion was ranked 43rd – a rise of three spots in comparison with last year’s ranking. The Technion is the only Israeli university in the top 50.
  • Technion ranked #78 overall, and with similar rankings for three consecutive years, it has consolidated its position among the top 80 universities in the world.

Reacting to the 2014 Shanghai rankings, Technion president Prof. Peretz Lavie said “Indexes  and rankings should be regarded with caution, especially when a fraction of a point either way can alter a university’s rankings from year to year. Nonetheless, the Shanghai ARWU is the leading ranking of world universities and it continues to compliment Israeli science in general, and the Technion in particular. It is especially gratifying that the Technion has once again placed among the world’s leading academic institutes in engineering and computer science.”

For more information:

Gil Lainer, Technion Spokesman, +972-58-688-2208,

Arriving at the Technion Faculty of Biology from Harvard Medical School, Prof. Roy Kishony is establishing his headquarters at the Lokey Center of Life Science & Engineering in order to unveil the life-threatening mysteries of resistance to antibiotics.

Combining novel quantitative experimental techniques and clinical studies with mathematical modelling and advanced data analysis, the new Kishony lab is studying microbial evolution with a specific focus on antibiotic resistance.

The team aims at understanding how bacterial pathogens evolve resistance to antibiotics within the human body during infection and how combinations of drugs can be used to slow down and perhaps even reverse this process.

Technion researchers have successfully captured the working mechanism of tyrosinase on the molecular level using X-ray crystallography, Nature Communications reported this week.

The two faculties responsible for catching tyrosinase “in the act” are the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering and the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. The laboratory of Assoc. Prof. Ayelet Fishman from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering primarily studies the correlation between the structure and function of enzymes. One of these enzymes is tyrosinase, which is ubiquitous in all domains of life and can be found in microorganisms, plants, and animals. It is responsible for the first two steps in the synthesis of the dark pigment melanin.

In humans tyrosinase is localized in melanocyte cells in the epidermis, and the formed melanin determines the color of skin, hair and eyes, but more importantly protects against the hazardous UV light. Mutations in this enzyme are the main cause for albinism, a condition that causes impaired vision and sensitivity to light. In fruits and vegetables tyrosinase initiates browning, which results in economic losses to farmers. Prof. Adir’s lab uses X-ray crystallography to obtain high resolution three dimensional structures of biological macromolecules.

tyrosineTyrosinase performs two successive oxidation reactions: conversion of small organic molecules (such as the amino acid tyrosine) to a di-phenol, and oxidation of the di-phenol to quinone, subsequently turning into melanin. The enzyme requires two copper ions, and the prevailing belief in the scientific community is that each activity is performed on a different copper ion.

Mor Goldfeder, a joint PhD student in both labs, and Dr. Rita Kanteev from Prof. Fishman’s lab solved the structure of a bacterial tyrosinase in the presence of two substrates: the monophenol tyrosine, and the di-phenol L-Dopa. Additionally, they managed to solve a structure with another substrate, in which the catalytic product was directly observed during its formation. These are the first visualizations of the enzyme during the catalytic cycle, showing that the enzyme was in its active form in the crystal. Sivan Isaschar-Ovdat, a PhD student studying applications of tyrosinase in foods, also participated in the research. The structures prove unequivocally that all of the substrates are stabilized in the same orientation at the active site of the enzyme, and are positioned towards the same copper ion.

Understanding of the mechanism and structure of tyrosinase can help in developing inhibitors for treatment of hyperpigmentation and age spots, improving the sensitivity of melanoma cells towards radiation therapy, and prevention of browning of fruits and vegetables.

In the photo – the tyrosinase team. from left to right – Assoc. Prof. Ayelet Fishman, Sivan Isaschar-Ovdat, Mor Goldfeder,  Dr. Rita Kanteev and Prof. Noam Adir