On April 2, Patricia Gruber presented the 13th annual Gruber Award for Scientific Excellence to the Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson. Established by Patricia and her late husband, Peter, through their Gruber Foundation, the three-year award recognizes brilliant early-career Weizmann scientists.

New Weizmann faculty members require significant support to establish their labs and launch their careers. By empowering these “bright lights,” as Patricia calls them, the Grubers understood that they were making a worthy investment in the future of science.

“We wanted to do something small, and it has grown beyond what we ever could have imagined,” Patricia said. “Everything that happens at the Weizmann Institute is a spark of hope. What is done with this award is so magnificent. It’s truly the greatest pleasure we could have.”

Today, the Gruber Award has honored 13 stellar young scientists at Weizmann, eight of whom have been women, including this year’s recipient.

Ellen Merlo, Patricia Gruber, Dave Doneson 640 w.jpg

(L-R) National Chair Ellen Merlo, Patricia Gruber, and CEO Dave Doneson at the Gruber Award ceremony in New York.

The award ceremony took place in New York City, in the presence of American Committee leadership, representatives from the Gruber Foundation, and other friends. Following opening remarks by National Chair Ellen Merlo and Patricia Gruber, CEO Dave Doneson introduced Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, the Weizmann Institute’s Vice President for Resource Development and Public Affairs, who participated via video conference. Live from the Weizmann campus in Rehovot, Prof. Bar-Joseph presented the award to Dr. Refaely-Abramson, who earned her PhD at the Institute and joined the Department of Materials & Interfaces six months ago.

Prof. Bar-Joseph described the Gruber Award’s “predictive power,” noting that past recipients have gone on to great achievements in their respective fields. He expressed confidence that Dr. Refaely-Abramson – who works at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and materials science – would be no exception.

Dr. Refaely-Abramson then spoke about her cutting-edge research to devise the materials of the future. Her theoretical work requires large, sophisticated computers to calculate materials’ complex properties – and then develop design rules to optimize them. Her experimental colleagues can then apply her findings to a range of applications, including renewable energy. For example, her investigations hold the promise of more efficient solar cells.

“Today, we’re able to make calculations that we could only dream of a few years ago,” explained Dr. Refaely-Abramson, who is leading efforts to harness and enhance Weizmann’s computational infrastructure. “It’s fascinating to be able to push theory and technology forward.”

She noted that the Institute has supported her desire to expand Weizmann’s computing resources beyond what currently exists in Israel. “There are not many places where I could do this,” she said. “Weizmann is a wonderful place to be.”

A mother of three boys, she also expressed appreciation for the support parent-scientists receive at Weizmann, including childcare on campus. “Everything is very flexible and comfortable,” she added.

Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson, and Kelly Avidan.jpg

Live from the Weizmann Institute campus, Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph (left) introduced Gruber Award winner Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson (center). Right: Director of Resource Development Kelly Avidan.

She concluded by thanking Patricia Gruber for this prestigious honor, which will enable her to take her pioneering work to new heights. A dynamic Q&A followed the presentation.

“We wanted to do something small, and it has grown beyond what we ever could have imagined.Guests also had the opportunity to learn more about the Grubers’ philanthropic support of other causes and institutions, such as the Peter Gruber International Academy. Located near Patricia’s primary residence in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Gruber Academy provides outstanding education and expands opportunities for youth in grades 7 through 12. Head of School Michael Bornn, who attended the award ceremony, spoke about the special relationship the school has developed with the Weizmann Institute. Thanks to the Grubers’ generosity, students have participated in video conferences with Weizmann scientists; some have even had the chance to visit the campus in Israel. “Their whole lives were changed as a result,” said Mr. Bornn.

Like the Weizmann Institute, the Gruber Academy believes the best ideas result from the pursuit of curiosity – and encourages its students to ask questions rather than memorizing answers.

It’s a philosophy Patricia and Peter Gruber understood well – and one that continues to motivate Patricia’s giving. “Rather than promoting a result, we’re permitting a flow,” she said. “It’s a huge gift to be able to invest in promising individuals … and then get out of the way.”

Culture & Community

Philanthropy in Action: The 13th Annual Gruber Award

• TAGS: Philanthropy, Awards, Materials, Women, Alternative energy, Community

On April 2, Patricia Gruber presented the 13th annual Gruber Award for Scientific Excellence to the Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson. Established by Patricia and her late husband, Peter, through their Gruber Foundation, the three-year award recognizes brilliant early-career Weizmann scientists.

New Weizmann faculty members require significant support to establish their labs and launch their careers. By empowering these “bright lights,” as Patricia calls them, the Grubers understood that they were making a worthy investment in the future of science.

“We wanted to do something small, and it has grown beyond what we ever could have imagined,” Patricia said. “Everything that happens at the Weizmann Institute is a spark of hope. What is done with this award is so magnificent. It’s truly the greatest pleasure we could have.”

Today, the Gruber Award has honored 13 stellar young scientists at Weizmann, eight of whom have been women, including this year’s recipient.

Ellen Merlo, Patricia Gruber, Dave Doneson 640 w.jpg

(L-R) National Chair Ellen Merlo, Patricia Gruber, and CEO Dave Doneson at the Gruber Award ceremony in New York.

The award ceremony took place in New York City, in the presence of American Committee leadership, representatives from the Gruber Foundation, and other friends. Following opening remarks by National Chair Ellen Merlo and Patricia Gruber, CEO Dave Doneson introduced Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, the Weizmann Institute’s Vice President for Resource Development and Public Affairs, who participated via video conference. Live from the Weizmann campus in Rehovot, Prof. Bar-Joseph presented the award to Dr. Refaely-Abramson, who earned her PhD at the Institute and joined the Department of Materials & Interfaces six months ago.

Prof. Bar-Joseph described the Gruber Award’s “predictive power,” noting that past recipients have gone on to great achievements in their respective fields. He expressed confidence that Dr. Refaely-Abramson – who works at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and materials science – would be no exception.

Dr. Refaely-Abramson then spoke about her cutting-edge research to devise the materials of the future. Her theoretical work requires large, sophisticated computers to calculate materials’ complex properties – and then develop design rules to optimize them. Her experimental colleagues can then apply her findings to a range of applications, including renewable energy. For example, her investigations hold the promise of more efficient solar cells.

“Today, we’re able to make calculations that we could only dream of a few years ago,” explained Dr. Refaely-Abramson, who is leading efforts to harness and enhance Weizmann’s computational infrastructure. “It’s fascinating to be able to push theory and technology forward.”

She noted that the Institute has supported her desire to expand Weizmann’s computing resources beyond what currently exists in Israel. “There are not many places where I could do this,” she said. “Weizmann is a wonderful place to be.”

A mother of three boys, she also expressed appreciation for the support parent-scientists receive at Weizmann, including childcare on campus. “Everything is very flexible and comfortable,” she added.

Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson, and Kelly Avidan.jpg

Live from the Weizmann Institute campus, Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph (left) introduced Gruber Award winner Dr. Sivan Refaely-Abramson (center). Right: Director of Resource Development Kelly Avidan.

She concluded by thanking Patricia Gruber for this prestigious honor, which will enable her to take her pioneering work to new heights. A dynamic Q&A followed the presentation.

“We wanted to do something small, and it has grown beyond what we ever could have imagined.Guests also had the opportunity to learn more about the Grubers’ philanthropic support of other causes and institutions, such as the Peter Gruber International Academy. Located near Patricia’s primary residence in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Gruber Academy provides outstanding education and expands opportunities for youth in grades 7 through 12. Head of School Michael Bornn, who attended the award ceremony, spoke about the special relationship the school has developed with the Weizmann Institute. Thanks to the Grubers’ generosity, students have participated in video conferences with Weizmann scientists; some have even had the chance to visit the campus in Israel. “Their whole lives were changed as a result,” said Mr. Bornn.

Like the Weizmann Institute, the Gruber Academy believes the best ideas result from the pursuit of curiosity – and encourages its students to ask questions rather than memorizing answers.

It’s a philosophy Patricia and Peter Gruber understood well – and one that continues to motivate Patricia’s giving. “Rather than promoting a result, we’re permitting a flow,” she said. “It’s a huge gift to be able to invest in promising individuals … and then get out of the way.”