Twenty-eight US undergraduates are participating in the 11th annual Summer Science Research Internship Program, a joint initiative of Bar-Ilan University and Yeshiva University enabling students to gain hands-on experience in emerging scientific fields while being mentored by Israel’s finest scientists.
Alexandra Roffe of Hewlett and Ephraim Meiri of Brooklyn are among this year’s participants, who also hail from Woodmere, Great Neck and West Hempstead.
During the six-week research experience, the students conduct intensive internships at Bar-Ilan research laboratories with faculty from the Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering, Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, and the Departments of Mathematics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Psychology.
Roffe, a computer science major and chemistry minor at Stern College for Women, is working as a research intern in Prof. Hanoch Senderowitz’s lab, where she’s attempting to create a blueprint to develop pesticides.
Her work involves the inhibition of certain proteins of plant pathogens under the assumption that if we impair the function of these proteins, we can prevent them from harming various crops. This work is being carried out within the framework of a European consortium funded by the European Commission.
“Understanding the mechanism and structure of these proteins allows us to develop cleaner, more effective, and precise pesticides,” Roffe said.
“It is amazing how much I know due to the incredible computer science and biochemistry professors at Stern — shout out to Alan Broder and Ran Drori! On the first day in the lab, I impressed everyone simply by the questions I was asking on the project.”
Meiri, a computer science major entering his third year at YU, has been working in the Dicta Library at DICTA, The Israel Center for Text Analysis, under the guidance of Dr. Joshua Guedalia. The Dicta Library uses technology to make rabbinic literature accessible by automatically converting printed texts into digital text, adding nikud (vocalization), punctuation, and expanding abbreviations, in addition to referencing and linking to sources cited in the text.
“Ephraim’s work has already been an important contribution and is integrated into the Dicta workflow, providing additional illumination to the digital texts on the Dicta Library site,” said Guedalia, himself an alumnus of both YU (BSc) and BIU (MBA, PhD).
This year’s participants are students from Princeton, Hofstra, Queens College, Rutgers, The Cooper Union, Lander College for Women, and Washington University in St. Louis, as well as YU and Stern.
Prof. Arlene Wilson-Gordon, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Chemistry, is directing this year’s program. Based on the students’ academic background and interests, she paired them with faculty and research assignments that would best enhance their summer experience and promote individual growth and career development.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for students from abroad to participate in research in Bar-Ilan’s state-of-the-art labs and to get to know researchers from all the diverse sectors of Israeli society,” says Gordon. “Over the years we’ve benefited from the significant contributions of hundreds of talented students to advancing research in our labs.”
The program also includes trips to scienti-fic, industrial, medical, agricultural and other sites around the country, including IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries), the laboratories of the Agriculture Research Organization (Volcani Center), Teperberg Winery, the Institute for Torah and the Land of Israel, and more, as well as lectures by BIU scholars on a range of topics, night activities, Torah learning, and Shabbatonim at YU’s Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, where the group is housed.
The program is funded by the late Dr. Mordecai Katz OBM and Dr. Monique Katz, the Irving I. Stone Foundation, Joan Seidel, Zoltan Erenyi Fund and YU. —BIU