|27 December, 2005 |
| Ecological Expert Chosen to Receive HU’s President’s Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher |
Like the wind that is so important in his research, Prof. Ran Nathan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem keeps on moving towards new heights in research.
Nathan has, in just a few years, become an internationally recognized leader in the field of dispersal ecology, especially the long-distance dispersal of plant seeds. The field has many important ecological implications regarding biodiversity, climate change, plant “invasions” and gene flow. Elements of Nathan’s research have been published in the leading scientific journals, and he has been invited to lecture in many international scientific conferences and to edit special features in leading journals in his field. In addition to receiving numerous awards and research grants, Nathan is also an associate editor in two international journals and a reviewer for these and many other journals, as well as for publishers and funding agencies.
For his innovative work in the field, Nathan has been chosen to receive the 2005 Hebrew University President’s Prize for the Outstanding Young Researcher at the Hebrew University. The prize is named for the late Prof.Yoram Ben-Porath, a former president and rector of the Hebrew university. The prize will be presented at a ceremony to be held tonight (Tuesday, Dec. 27) at the university. In the words of Hebrew University President Prof. Menachem Magidor, Nathan is being awarded the prize in recognition of “the original aspects of his scientific work” in regard to seed dispersal and the influence it has had on resolving ecological issues.
Born in Eilat, Israel, in 1962, Nathan began his academic career at the Hebrew University where he earned a B.Sc in biology (1992), as well as an M.Sc. (1994) and Ph.D. (1999) in evolution, systematics and ecology. He has since served as a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University, a visiting research scientist at Duke University in the U.S., and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He was a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev before returning, in 2003, to the Hebrew University, where he teaches in the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences. He is married to Michal, a yoga teacher, and father to three children.
From his initial work involving seed dispersal by wind, Nathan has moved on to examination of organism movements from a wider viewpoint, developing a novel, interdisciplinary field of research he has termed ''Movement Ecology.'' This will provide, for the first time, a unified conceptual and practical framework for studying the patterns and mechanisms of organism movements, their causes and consequences. The new approach is expected to lead to new insights about the factors controlling the distribution and diversity of organisms on earth.
The Hebrew University’s Institute of Advanced Studies has recently approved a proposal by Prof. Nathan to organize an international study group of scholars from Israel and abroad that will work for a full year, beginning next fall, to establish this new field of research. The composition of the study group will reflect a diverse approach to ecological movement that takes into consideration, in addition to the wind, the effects on ecology of seed dispersal by animals, bird migration and small-scale foraging of animals.