ISSI participants

Abraham Druck spent a month at the Weizmann Institute of Science as part of the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI).

Last month, one of New Jersey’s budding scientists, Abraham (AJ) Druck of Englewood, returned from four weeks on the Weizmann Institute’s campus in Rehovot, Israel. The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading scientific research institutions, with nearly 4,000 researchers making a global impact in areas ranging from health and medicine, to alternative energy, to space exploration.

Druck, who graduated from Ramaz Upper School in New York City this year, was one of 19 talented teens from the United States selected to participate in the Weizmann Institute’s annual Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI). This prestigious program, which accepts only one in five applicants and provides full, merit-based scholarships to all participants, affords students the opportunity to conduct research with world-renowned scientists in biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science. This year’s American participants joined some 60 other young, future scientists from around the world in experiencing the challenges and rewards of working alongside top scientific researchers, and learning about life in Israel.

“This summer has been one of the most meaningful in my life,” said Druck, who will attend Carnegie Mellon University this fall. “In the laboratory, I conducted research on trees in semiarid regions of Israel. My team (including German and Swiss partners) was specifically interested in how these forests were able to survive in such harsh conditions that normally do not support life.”

Equally enriching, he said, were the opportunities to see Israel in a new light: “Although I have been to Israel many times before, I have never experienced the country like this. For example, I have never hiked up the snake path of Masada to watch the sunrise, or climbed down one of the small desert craters.”

Druck also found it rewarding to befriend an international group of peers. “The people on this program were some of the most amazing people I have ever met,” he added. “Now, if I travel practically anywhere in the world, I will have a friend. My time at the Weizmann Institute will definitely stick out in my mind. I believe the things I learned there as well as the connections I made will have a great impact on my life down the road.”