Blavatnik Prizes for Computer Science awarded to doctoral fellows

Left to right: Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Nave Frost, and TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. Photo: Chen Galili.

TAU hosts annual ceremony recognizing standout research in growing field

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The second annual Blavatnik Prizes for Outstanding Israeli Doctoral Students in Computer Science were awarded on June 8 to four recipients, in a ceremony at Tel Aviv University (TAU).

With generous funding from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the prizes were established to highlight excellent research by Israeli Ph.D. candidates in the field of computer science and emphasize the importance of doctoral studies in general.

The 2022 recipients were Nave Frost of TAU, Gal Yona and Assaf Shocher of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Leshem Choshen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Honorable mention went to Hagai Rossman and Gilad Yehudai of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Elad Romanov and Lior Rotem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Among the ceremony attendees was British-American industrialist and philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik, for whom the prizes are named. The prize is among the latest programs backed by the longtime TAU benefactor and dedicated supporter of science, innovation, and higher education in Israel. A TAU Governor and Honorary Doctor, he has a transformative legacy of giving at TAU, which began over a decade ago with backing for scholarships and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science. From there, his Foundation pledged sizeable gifts to establish the Blavatnik Initiative, a multi-year program in the fields of computing, cyber, drug development, film production, and faculty recruitment. Key programs benefited by the initiative include the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery and Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center.  

“Israel is at the forefront of the ongoing computer science revolution that increasingly affects everyday lives around the world,” said Sir Leonard. “As such, it is vital to amplify the academic achievement of emerging trailblazers, who are poised to become future leaders and innovators in academia and industry.”

The Prizes are conferred at TAU by the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences and the school’s Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund for high-impact areas that contribute to Israel’s economic prosperity. As computer science becomes increasingly central to life today, the Blavatnik School of Computer Science plays a cutting-edge role in TAU’s academic achievements and real-world contributions advancing innovation. Graduates fill leading positions in high-tech companies, Israel’s defense establishment and defense industries, and academic institutions worldwide. 

TAU President Professor Ariel Porat welcomed Sir Leonard to campus in front of a packed auditorium at the state-of-the-art Check Point Building. “Again and again, Sir Leonard Blavatnik has demonstrated his heartfelt commitment to nurturing the next generation of outstanding young scientists and creators – at TAU, in Israel, and globally,” Professor Porat said. “We at TAU are grateful for his support and friendship that is felt throughout the campus, and that is opening new avenues for excellence in crucial fields.”

Professor Sivan Toledo, Head of TAU’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, moderated the event and said, “Israeli Ph.D. fellows in computer science contribute immensely to research and teaching that move the field forward. Sir Leonard Blavatnik and his considerable contributions play an immeasurable role in propelling them to new frontiers. The Blavatnik Prizes celebrate the achievements of the best of these Ph.D. students, and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science is honored to award these prizes for the second time.”

A jury of computer science experts from Israeli universities including TAU, the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem select winners from a pool of doctoral students and recent Ph.D. recipients from all Israeli universities.

Also on June 8, the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel were awarded in a separate evening ceremony held at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. The Awards recognize the country’s most promising faculty-rank researchers in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation funds the Awards, which are co-administered by the New York Academy of Sciences and The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. To date, two outstanding TAU scientists, Professor Oded Rechavi of the School of Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Professor Yossi Yovel of the School of Zoology have been Blavatnik Award laureates.  

"It is vital to amplify the academic achievement of emerging trailblazers, who are poised to become future leaders and innovators in academia and industry.”