Nobel Prize Winners 2012: (Left) Prof. Alvin E. Roth (Economics) and (Right) Prof. David J. Wineland (Physics) BSF former grantees

As the Nobel Committee announced its selections this past fall, two additional scientists who previously participated together with Israeli colleagues in research programs supported by the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) have been honored. “The BSF has now supported research involving a total of 40 Nobel Laureates in our organization’s 40 years,” said Professor Mina Teicher, Chair of the BSF Board of Governors.  “Our peer review panels work diligently to identify the best scientists.  Our track record speaks for itself.”

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland “for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.” David Wineland is a physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  In 2004, along with Prof. Amit Ben-Kish from the Technion and Prof. Ron Folman from the Ben-Gurion University, Wineland received funding from the BSF.

“One of the projects pushed forward at NIST by Prof. David Wineland was to trap and manipulate single ions on a chip with the vision of enabling quantum technology of clocks and quantum information processing in a chip scale device,” shared Professor Folman, an expert in material engineering for quantum technology at Ben-Gurion University.  “The need for integration and miniaturization of quantum technology was the basis of our joint project and our effort to develop new types of chips that work according to the rules of quantum theory.”

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded jointly to Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.”  Economist Alvin Roth, who has recently transitioned from Harvard to Stanford, was honored for his work on market design. Roth is a pioneer in the field of game theory and experimental economics and in their application to the design of new economic institutions. His work with Prof. Ido Erev from the Technion received funding from the BSF on three different occasions. Alvin E. Roth and Ido Erev demonstrated that reinforcement learning can make useful predictions in experimental games.

Said Professor Erev, “My research with Al Roth tries to clarify the effect of experience on economic behavior.  In our current BSF project, conducted in cooperation with Dr. Eyal Ert from the Hebrew University, we organize open choice prediction competitions in order to compare alternative models of the effect of experience.  The results highlight the value of simple models that assume reliance of small set of past experiences in similar situations.  These observations help reconcile the apparent inconsistency between behavioral research that document robust deviations from rational behavior, and the observation that many of the successful economic mechanisms (including Roth’s matching projects) that assume some level of rationality.  Specifically, we believe that rationality-based mechanisms are successful when they create an environment in which the rational behavior is better on average and most of the time.”

The BSF funds collaborative research between United States and Israeli scientists.  Since it’s founding in 1972 by an agreement between the United States and Israel, the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation has awarded in today value, more then $500 million in grants in close to 5,000 projects involving more than 7,400 scientists at 375 participating institutions.  Many of these have led to important scientific, medical and technological breakthroughs with wide-ranging practical applications. “The recent Nobel Awards received by Professor Roth and by Dr. Wineland are a testament to the high caliber of projects receiving funding,” said Yair Rotstein Executive Director of the BSF.   “Israel is a small country and has a very prolific scientific community. Our funded collaborations between Israeli and American scientists have led to the support of 40 Nobel Laureates.  We are proud of this contribution to the body of scientific achievement.”

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