Graduated Fellows

Graduated Fellows

Completed Projects

BMI-TATA Collaboration Operation Project

Yalon Perlman, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

Adoption of technological innovations in agriculture has attracted considerable attention in developing countries. New technology seems to offer an opportunity to increase production and income sustainably, but the introduction of many new technologies has met with only partial success as measured by observed rates of adoption (Feder, G., Just, R. E., & Zilberman, D. 1985). It is essential to conduct field experiments and pilots for technologies in the fields of agriculture and water-saving. Field experiments bridge the gap between the existing knowledge and technologies and their feasibility and implementation in the field, so that farmers can significantly increase their income. In this research, the economic impact of technologies and knowledge on smallholder farmers in rural India is examined: Is it possible that proven technologies are economically unfeasible for vegetables smallholder farmers? Given the current market conditions, combined with the information and ability accessible to the farmers, it is difficult to find economic feasibility for the tested technologies. Many factors may affect the adoption of technologies among smallholder farmers. In this study, we show through five field trials with small vegetable farmers, that the economic feasibility of the technologies tested does exist but is very limited and influenced by other factors that may thwart its adoption. Additionally, we underscore the complexity of the growing chain, which impedes the willingness to adopt technologies, despite their significant contribution to crop growth, maximal fields utilization, and reduced use of water and other inputs. The innovation in this study lies in the cooperation between a non-governmental organization (TATA Trusts) and academia to establish a methodology for data-based philanthropy

While German Shepherds were Sleeping: How Mainstream Parties Created a Fertile Ground for the Electoral Success of the German Radical-Right AfD

Karen Umansky, Phd, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisor: Prof. Itai Sened

This research sheds light on the resurgence of radical populism in contemporary European democracies, focusing on the 2017 German elections. Umansky demonstrates the manner in which AfD mobilized voters and gained their support by presenting them with a ‘legitimate’ enemy alleged to pose an ethnic and cultural threat to the German people. The concept of a ‘legitimate’ enemy is advanced by Umansky and Spektorowski (2017) as a mass mobilization strategy of modern radical populists in Europe. By embracing the politics of conflict an enemy is created in the minds of voters.

The Institutional Political Economy of the Middle Class in Developed Countries

Sagit Azari-Wiesel, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisor: Prof. Itai Sened

Following the financial crisis of 2007-8, the strength and vulnerabilities of the middle class have come to occupy a central role in the discussion of economic recovery. Despite the interest in the middle class, rigorous scholarship of the subject has been sparse. This neglect may be correlated with the standard method used by most economists to measure the strength of the middle class, almost invariably, by different cut-points of income distributions and by virtually none existing theory to explain the economic imperatives of the middle class as a critical economic engine for economic long term growth.

The results of analysis of the three cases of Israel, the UK, and Italy indicate a significant change in class structure, to more polarized class stratification. What distinguishes the poor from the middle class, are quality employment, education, real estate, excess pension, and health care. These conclusions notwithstanding, found significant variance across the cases studied. For example, in Israel, the core middle class does not need more housing, (while the new middle class does), but rather infrastructure that will make the labor market more accessible to members of the middle and lower classes. The lower class in Israel needs more skills adapted to the modern labor market, while in Italy, the lower class, first of all, requires new and unique incentives to enter the labor market. In the UK, it seems to be all about an educational system that has left the middle class desperately behind the educational needs of the current labor markets.

Analysis of Large-Scale Climate Time-Series and their Downscaling over the Eastern Mediterranean

Assaf Hochman, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisors: Prof. Pinhas Alpert, Department of Earth Sciences, and Prof. Hadas Saaroni, Faculty of Exact Sciences

Mr. Hochman’s research demonstrates that local dimension and persistence, derived from reanalysis and CMIP5 models’ daily sea-level pressure fields, can serve as an objective quantitative method for evaluating the predictability of different Synoptic Classifications (SC). These metrics, combined with the SC transitional probability approach, are shown to be valuable to operational weather forecasts and climate model evaluation. This perspective can be extended to other geographic regions. By the end of the 21st century the duration of the synoptic summer, characterized by the occurrence of the Persian Trough, is expected to lengthen by 49%, while the synoptic winter, characterized by the occurrence of the Cyprus Low, is expected to shorten by 56%. This may lead to substantial changes in the hydrological regime and water resources, reduce the potential of dry farming, increase the risk of fires and air pollution, and change the timing of seasonal health hazards.

Intensified Off-Shore Production of Biomass (Macro-Algae) for Bio-Energy: Mixing and Nutrients Transport Studies

Hadar Traugott, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisors: Prof. Alexander Liberzon, School of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Alexander Golberg, Porter School of Environmental and Earth Science

Cultivation of marine macro-algae is a potentially sustainable resource for fuel, food, and chemicals. This study focuses on the effect of turbulent hydrodynamic conditions on the metabolism of Ulva species macro-algae, which is known for its high potential yields, protein, and carbohydrate content. Previous research has shown that the hydrodynamic conditions are a fundamental factor influencing macro-algae growth rate and chemical composition.

During the last year, Hadar performed cultivation experiments in two experimental systems, one for measurement of the hydrostatic pressure effects, and the other for the turbulent hydrodynamic effects on biomass and chemical composition of macroalgae. In addition, she was involved in writing and submitting three manuscripts, which summarize the experimental results and conclusions carried out in the past years. All these manuscripts were published. Furthermore, she was involved in writing book chapters on macroalgae biorefinery, (1) feedstock, (2) downstream processing, and (3) application.

Combating the Mango Fruit Fly in Kenya – In Collaboration with ICIPE and the Matanel Foundation

Opher Mendelsohn, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

The project has several objectives: (1) Dissemination of a sustainable solution for the problem of the oriental fruit fly in mango orchards in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya (2) Capacity building of the local extension service (3) Increasing regional cooperation (4) Assessing the impact of adopting the new practices.

Insights gleaned from this project are already being put to use in an additional project for regional management of the fall armyworm. The fall armyworm is an invading pest that causes devastating losses to maize, Africa’s primary staple crop. This project, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, is a cooperative effort of Tel Aviv University and ICIPE in various counties around western Kenya.

These projects not only aim to promote a change in farming practices, but to dramatically improve the life of Kenyan famers and their families.

Breaking New Ground in Indo-Israeli Agricultural Technology Transfer

Karel Finkelstein and David Shurman, MA, Graduated BMI Fellows
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

Currently, the pilot program focuses on orchards and involves six farmers in the Anantapur district-- one of the driest areas in India. Though it is too early to determine whether the tool is successful, preliminary results are promising. Though the pilot is focused on trees, an additional experiment was conducted with a tomato farm in the Krishna district. In this experiment the Tal-Ya plot yielded more than three times the amount than the control plots. As a result, the student researchers are currently making plans to expand the experiment to vegetables in the next cycle. This has the potential not only to benefit farmers by saving water and increasing yield, but it will also have a positive impact on the environment.  Tal-Ya’s product is meant to last ten years and is recyclable-- allowing farmers to substantially reduce the use of single-use plastic.

In addition, the research group recently concluded its first post-harvest tech-pilot. Post-harvest solutions are important as crops often suffer substantial damages after being harvested, but before being sold. The Israeli argitech company Amaizz attempts to provide cheap post-harvest tools that minimize the losses caused by crop spoilage and degradation throughout the handling, storage, and processing stages.

Removal of Micro-Pollutants from Hospital Wastewater

Adi Zilberman, BMI Fellow
Academic Advisors: Prof. Dror Avisar, Prof. Hadas Mamane and Yaal Lester, Environmental Engineering, Azrieli College, Jerusalem

Hospital wastewater are one of the point sources of various micro-organic persistent and toxic contaminants, secreted by the hospitalized patients. Treated wastewater (effluent) become an alternative water resource under the global water scarcity problem. In Israel, about 85% of the effluent water are allocated for agricultural irrigation and the rest goes into the sea or rivers and even for insertion into aquifers. Pharmaceutical residues are part of a group of persistent and toxic micro-organic contaminants that flows into the water-treatment plants from hospitals, industry, agriculture and domestic sector. These contaminants are resistant to conventional biological treatment used as a secondary treatment. As a result, those contaminants can still be found in the effluent that runs into rivers, and used in agriculture. In this study, we treat the pharmaceutical residues in the source, In that way, we decrease their concentration in the effluent and by that contribute to food security and environmental sustainability.

Impact of Drought on Farmer Suicides

Yoav Rothler, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

In the past year Mr. Rothler studied the socio-economic impact of irrigation usage on farmers. In particular, he analyzed the connection between irrigation cover rates and farmer suicide rates. The results of his research indicate that a higher rate of irrigation is directly related to lower farmer suicide rates. In contrast to this, irrigation cover does not have any significant relationship to suicides among other occupational groups. This provides strong evidence that the effect of irrigation cover on suicides is driven by factors related to farming. Further analysis reveals that most of the demonstrated effect is related to variation in canal irrigation cover, rather than well irrigation. This distinction is important because canal irrigation is more favourably distributed among small and marginal farmers, while well irrigation is more advantageous to larger farmers

The Political Economy of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Amit Loewenthal, PhD, Graduated BMI Fellow
Academic Advisors: Dr. Sami Miaari, Department of Labor Studies, and Prof. Itai Sened, Head of the School of Social and Policy Studies and Head of BMI

This research provides insight into the role economic inequality and other economic conditions play in political conflicts. Many political conflicts, both violent and non-violent, from the Arab Spring to the Brexit, are attributed to economic grievance. A global phenomenon has developed: political radicalization in an environment of rising intra-country inequality and economic resentment by people who feel left behind. However, existing studies focus on cross-country analysis and do not study the effect of economic inequality on political radicalization. This is the first research project to address these issues. Mr. Lowenthal has analysed the conflict-inequality nexus within the scope of a single political entity, using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (IPC)-- one of the longest lasting political conflicts-- as a case study.

Resolving Intractable Conflicts

Dr. Nimrod Rosler and Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal

For the first time in the last 20 years support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has dropped below 50%. In tandem the alternative of a one-state solution is growing in popularity. It is clear that innovative approaches are needed in order to break the cycle of violence-- as past experience shows that intractable conflicts are in fact solvable. Dr. Rosner’s research suggests an innovative approach, looking at an often-ignored aspect of the conflict: gender. In doing so he also takes into account previous work by Prof. Bar-Tal who argues that there are two narratives concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which fight for dominance: one which sees the conflict as never-ending and unsolvable and one which values compromise and sees peace as possible.  Using data collected as part of the monthly Peace Index surveys leads to the conclusion that women are more likely to support peace negotiations and political compromise. Regarding support for the Oslo Accords, the more Israel is entangled in conflict the more pronounced the difference between women and men becomes. In fact, after rigorous examination of each month’s data, including regression analysis to account for political and religious affiliation, it became evident that the difference between genders was much more frequent after 2001-- the period of the Second Intifada. The conclusion is that in intractable conflicts women support a peace agreement slightly more than men. Nevertheless, the socio-cultural and geopolitical context is tremendously important for fully understanding the correlation.

Gaza Marshall Plan

Jesse R. Weinberg, Carl `Yonker, BMI Fellows
Academic Advisor: Professor Eyal Zisser, Vice Rector of Tel-Aviv University

Following the work of Mr. Loewenthal, BMI fellows were tasked with providing historical, geopolitical, and analytical perspectives on political violence, reconstruction, and post-conflict development. In addition, they have offered medium- and long-term policy recommendations for Gaza’s reconstruction. A draft of this so-called Gaza Marshall Plan was submitted in April and revised by May. A chapter on the history of political violence in the Palestinian national movement will be submitted shortly.

The Boris Mints Institute supports groundbreaking research in a diverse range of sciences, through our research labs. We had the pleasure and honor of supporting the research projects of these young men and women, our Graduating Fellows

Assaf Hochman, PhD

Assaf Hochman, PhD

Graduated BMI Fellow

Carl Yonker, PhD

Carl Yonker, PhD

Graduated BMI Fellow