Of all the letters I have written for Vision Magazine, this one is the most difficult, because it is my last before I retire as BSF’s Executive Director.
These past 16 years have been the most rewarding years of my life in science. I am so proud of what BSF has accomplished during this time, especially when it comes to our growing relationship with the (United States) National Science Foundation, which has created ever-increasing opportunities for scientific partnerships between the United States and Israel.
Yet this “ending” is also a beginning – for me and for BSF. In this issue, you will meet Dr. Anton Post, whom BSF has named as my successor. As you read about him, you will immediately see why he was selected after an extensive search among a field of many qualified candidates. An internationally published marine biologist who has pioneered the field of molecular ecology, this Dutch-born scientist started his 20-year academic career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a postdoc, later earning a faculty appointment in Marine Sciences and advancing to the rank of full professor. He has received four BSF grants throughout his career.
Anton also has extensive experience in the United States. He comes to BSF after serving as the Associate Vice President for Global Partnerships at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Previously, he was the Executive Director of FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and of the Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island. From 2012-2015, he served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, where he was instrumental in establishing the NSF-BSF partnership in Ocean Sciences.
Given his background, Anton knows full well both the opportunities and the challenges faced by scientists in Israel and in the United States. I have been working very closely with him for several months to ensure a smooth transition. I know that with his talent and vision, he will take BSF in exciting new directions.
Dr. Mouna Maroun, also highlighted in the current issue, is a new member of our Board of Governors, as well as a science pioneer. In reading about her, you will learn how she rose from very humble beginnings in Israel to become one of the nation’s most respected neurobiologists. Her exploration of stress and fear responses in lab animals has led to a breakthrough in the way mental health professionals treat trauma patients. She is also first Arab woman to head a university science department in Israel (at the University of Haifa.) Yet beyond her dedication to science, Mouna is also committed to ensuring that today’s Israeli students – particularly those from underserved communities – have access to higher education. I am sure that BSF’s Board will benefit from her enthusiasm and dedication.
This issue also includes an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, which is unfortunately still spreading at dangerous levels in both Israel and the United States. Even so, current and former BSF grantees have made promising strides on several key fronts, and I hope you are as proud as I am of their efforts.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah, I cannot help but think about how the pandemic has made this a particularly challenging year. At the same time, though, I have never been prouder to have had a career in science. That is because, at its best, science transcends what divides us, and unites us in our quest for discovery and knowledge. As I retire, I will certainly miss the Israeli and American scientists in all the fields I have worked with, as well as BSF’s wonderful and dedicated staff. But I will continue following BSF, and I cannot wait to hear about the future breakthroughs that will come about thanks to the partnerships made possible with BSF’s support.