The Israel Academy Elects New President and Vice President, seven new Academy Members
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The Israel Academy Elects New President and Vice President, seven new Academy Members

The Academy’s General Assembly elected Professor David Harel as the Academy’s incoming president, and Professor Margalit Finkelberg as its incoming vice president. Seven new Academy members were also elected; they will join its ranks at a formal ceremony to be held in November.
In a meeting of the General Assembly of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which took place on June 15, 2021 (5 Tammuz 5781), the members of the Academy elected Professor David Harel, a world-renowned computer scientist from the Weizmann Institute of Science, as the Academy’s eleventh president. Professor Harel will replace the outgoing president, Professor Nili Cohen, who is completing her six-year term. Professor Margalit Finkelberg, a world-renowned classical studies scholar from Tel Aviv University, was elected vice president. She will be replacing Professor Harel in that position.
Professor Harel and Professor Finkelberg will begin serving in their new roles on September 7, 2021 (1 Tishrei 5782).
The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities – the preeminent scientific institution in Israel’s scientific community – was chartered by law in 1961 to bring together the best scientists and researchers, in order to foster and promote science in Israel. In order to fulfill its purpose, it advises the government on activities relating to research and scientific planning of national significance, publishes articles that advance science and scholarship, and maintains active contact with the international scientific community. The Academy is divided into two sections: one for the natural sciences and one for humanities and the social sciences. The addition of the new members brings the total number of Academy members to 139.
Professor David Harel, a member of the faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science since 1980, served as head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from 1989 to 1995, and as dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science from 1998 to 2004. Professor Harel co-founded i-Logix, which was later acquired by IBM. He earned his doctorate at MIT, worked in the research division of IBM in New York, and spent sabbaticals at Carnegie-Mellon University, Cornell University, and the University of Edinburgh. He has been a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2010.
In the past, Professor Harel worked in several areas of theoretical computer science (including computability theory, logics of programs, automata theory, and database theory). In recent decades, he has focused mainly on software and systems engineering, research on modeling and analysis of biological systems, and the synthesis and communication of smell.
Professor Harel is the inventor of the language of Statecharts and the co-inventor of live sequence charts (LSCs). He was a member of the team that designed the tools Statemate, Rhapsody, Play-Engine, and PlayGo.
His books include Algorithmics: The Spirit of Computing and Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can’t Do.
Awards and honors: the ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award (1992), the Israel Prize (2004), the ACM Software System Award (2007), the Emet Prize (2010), and five honorary degrees. He is a fellow of the ACM, the IEEE, the AAAS, and the EATCS; is a member of the Academia Europaea, and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering, and the US National Academy of Sciences. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society in the UK.
Professor Margalit Finkelberg, Professor of Classics (Emerita) at Tel Aviv University, has been a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2005. She earned her doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1986. Professor Finkelberg is a scholar of the language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece. Her works cover a broad spectrum of topics: ancient Greek poetry, especially Homer; Aegean prehistory, ancient Greek language, poetics and theory of literature, Greek mythological tradition, religion and popular morality, and most recently the writings of Plato.
Her books include The Birth of Literary Fiction in Ancient Greece (1998); Greeks and Pre-Greeks: Aegean Prehistory and Greek Heroic Tradition (2005); and The Gatekeeper: Narrative Voice in Plato’s Dialogues (2019). She has published more than a hundred scholarly articles, and edited The Homer Encyclopedia (3 volumes, 2011), for which she won the 2011 Outstanding Reference Sources award, given by the Reference and User Sources Association (RUSA) (USA). She also translated several of Plato’s dialogues into Hebrew.
Professor Finkelberg has been a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; and International Research Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the University of British Columbia. She led (together with G. G. Stroumsa) a research group at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies, Jerusalem. Among her many appearances as a guest lecturer, she was invited to give the Gerald F. Else Memorial Lecture in the Humanities at the University of Michigan and was the Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lecturer at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Professor Finkelberg served as chair of the Department of Classics at Tel Aviv University (2002-2006) and as president of the Israel Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies (2011-2016). She was a member of the Executive Committee of Tel Aviv University (2012-2015), a member of the board of directors of the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies (2012-2015), and served on many academic committees.
Awards and honors: Professor Finkelberg was awarded the 2012 Rothschild Prize in the Humanities. She won the Rose Ettinger Award in 1994 for her translation of The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus from ancient Greek into Russian, which was published in Moscow. She won the Gildersleeve Prize (1991), awarded by Johns Hopkins University Press, for the best article of the year published in the American Journal of Philology.
The General Assembly of the Academy also elected seven new members, who will be joining its ranks at a formal ceremony to be held in November. The new members are:
  • Professor Yinon Ben Neriah, the Faculty of Medicine, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Professor Muhammad Haj-Yahia, the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Professor Sarit Kraus, the Department of Computer Science, Bar-Ilan University
  • Professor Nira Liberman, School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University
  • Professor Maren Niehoff, the Department of Jewish Thought, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Professor Sammy Smooha, the Faculty of Sociology, the University of Haifa
  • Professor Yeshayahu Talmon, the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology