TAU professor wins prestigious Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists in Israel

Professor Yossi Yovel awarded $100,000 for groundbreaking scientific research in Life Sciences

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Professor Yossi Yovel, Associate Professor of Zoology at Tel Aviv University (TAU), is one of three Laureates to be awarded 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Professor Yovel was recognized for his work in the area of Life Sciences and will receive $100,000.

Professor Yovel is working to bridge the gap between two of the most influential fields in biology — ecology (the study of animals in their environment) and neuroscience (the study of how the brain controls actions). He has helped to establish the new field of neuroecology, the study of how the brain controls behavior in a rapidly changing natural environment. He is a leading expert on the use of bats in scientific research and studies their use of echolocation to perceive and navigate through the world as a model for how the brain integrates sensory information to guide behavior. This work provides broader insight into group behaviors, integration of sensory information in the brain, and real-time decision making.

The 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel will be conferred, as pandemic restrictions allow, at a ceremony held at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021.  This year’s Laureates also include Professor Ido Kaminer of Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, the Physical Sciences & Engineering Laureate; and Professor Rafal Klajn of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Chemistry Laureate.

The Blavatnik Awards recognize outstanding, innovative scientists at the early stages of their careers for both their extraordinary achievements and their promise for future discoveries. The prizes are awarded to researchers aged 42 and younger for groundbreaking work in the disciplines of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering. The Blavatnik Awards in Israel sit alongside their international counterparts, the Blavatnik National Awards and Blavatnik Regional Awards in the United States, and the Blavatnik Awards in the United Kingdom.

The Laureates will join a cadre of young scientists from across Israel who have been honored by the Blavatnik Awards in Israel since their launch in 2017. In addition, the Laureates will become part of the international Blavatnik Science Scholars community, which, by the close of 2021, will total 350 young scientists from around the world. Each summer the Laureates are invited to attend the annual Blavatnik Science Symposium in New York City at the New York Academy of Sciences, where past and present Blavatnik Awards honorees from around the world come together to share new ideas and forge collaborations for novel, cross-disciplinary research.

“The passing year has demonstrated just how important groundbreaking science is,” said Len Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation. “It’s imperative to encourage young scientists to venture broadly in their respective fields and to push the boundaries of scientific discovery. The achievements by these three outstanding Israeli scientists are testament to their brilliance, perseverance, and imagination — characteristics held by many young Israeli researchers who will continue to make remarkable contributions to science for generations to come.”

During the nomination period for the 2021 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel, 37 nominations were received from seven universities across the country. Members of the Awards’ Scientific Advisory Council, which includes Nobel Laureates, Professors Aaron Ciechanover and David Gross, along with Chairman of the Israel Space Agency and Chairman of the National Council for R&D for the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, were also invited to submit nominations. Three distinguished juries composed of leading scientists representing the three disciplinary categories and led by Israel Academy members, selected the 2021 Laureates.

About the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

The Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in the United States in 2007 and independently administered by the New York Academy of Sciences, began by identifying outstanding regional scientific talent in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Blavatnik National Awards were first awarded in 2014, and in 2017 the Awards were expanded to honor faculty-rank scientists in the United Kingdom and in Israel. By the close of 2021, the Blavatnik Awards will have awarded prizes totaling $11.9 million. Of all the Award recipients, 61 percent are immigrants to the country in which they were recognized and hail from 47 countries across six continents. For updates about the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, please visit www.blavatnikawards.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook @BlavatnikAwards.


Tel Aviv University (TAU) is a globally top-ranked university, a leading research institution, and a center of discovery. As Israel’s largest public institution of higher learning, TAU is home to 30,000 students, including 2,100 international students from over 100 countries. The University encompasses nine faculties, 35 schools, 400 labs, and has 17 affiliated hospitals in its network.

Blavatnik Awards recognize outstanding, innovative scientists at the early stages of their careers for both their extraordinary achievements and their promise for future discoveries