In addition, general and useful information is sent to them. If they have not found jobs and are close to their return, the Contact Center assists individuals personally in establishing direct contact with the relevant people in institutions where they hope for employment. In many cases, Academy members who are Israel's most prominent researchers, assist the Contact Center in making these contacts. Several times the Contact Center located funding to bring candidates for positions to participate actively in scientific conferences in Israel, providing them with professional exposure, the opportunity to network and to interview for faculty positions.
The unique advantage of the Contact Center is the focus it places on returning scientists to academic positions. Some ask to remain on the data base even after their return – some return without yet finding a job, others return to part-time or temporary positions or a second or third post-doc and there are those who even return to a tenure-track position, but don't yet have tenure, and the Contact Center serves as a safety net for them. Some researchers who have returned to establish their own new labs approach the Contact Center for assistance in staffing their labs with quality people who are doctoral students and postdocs. The Contact Center serves researchers in Israel and abroad, some of whom did their postdoctoral training in Israel but aren't Jewish. It cooperates with various entities (colleges, research institutes, government ministries and others such as the Israel Science Foundation, the Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Research, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Volcani Institute.
As a project of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Contact Center enjoys several unique advantages:
• The Academy, as a neutral entity, views the country’s universities and educational institutions from a broad, national perspective;
• The Academy operates on behalf of the researchers, without institutional preference;
• The educational institutions trust the Academy’s help in acquiring faculty;
• Israel’s most distinguished scholars are accessible to the Center for consultation;
• The Academy’s small size enables it to protect the privacy of those registered on its database;
The Contact Center holds annual meetings and career fairs during the winter breaks of universities and colleges abroad, when many Israeli researchers come to Israel to actively search for faculty positions with the goal of returning home. Each annual meeting offers lectures by representatives of supporting organizations such as the Council for Higher Education, the Center for Absorption in Science, the Israel National Brain Gain Program, the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate (ISERD) and the Azrieli Foundation, explaining to returning academics how they can benefit from these programs, which aid the universities in funding their salaries. Their lectures are broadcast live to Israelis around the world and afterwards they are made accessible to the researchers on the data base, along with their slides which contain much useful material.
These yearly conferences provide an opportunity to present the issues concerning the researchers to the decision makers. Close to the dates, the Contact Center receives their questions and passes them on anonymously to receive responses from the organizations and institutions. In 2010 Professor Manuel Trachtenberg presented his long-term program for Vatat and Dr. Liat Maoz presented the I-CORE program for excellence. Questions from abroad were presented and received a response as well as those from the audience. Afterwards, participants asked to have a similar meeting with university representatives, to present them with questions centering around the (lack of) transparency in the job acceptance process. In December 2011 the rectors of all the universities participated in an impressive panel led by Professor Ruth Arnon, President of the Academy.
In December 2012 a panel of researchers who were absorbed successfully in institutions of higher education upon their return from abroad shared their experiences and gave practical tips. In December 2013, in view of the problems which arose concerning the humanities and social sciences, a panel of deans of the humanities, social sciences and law answered questions regarding issues of concern to researchers in these fields. Dr. Ahmi Ben-Yehuda described his personal experiences, until he eventually received the position as head of the Department for Medical Research in the Ministry of Health.
At last year's meeting on December 28, 2014, several lectures were delivered by those organizations that assist absorption in institutions of higher education. Ms. Noa Binstein of Vatat gave a general overview and described their Alon and Maof fellowships. Dr. Nurit Eyal, Director of the National Brain Gain Program, explained how her team helps researchers returning to academia deal with the infamous Israeli bureaucracy. Omri Ingber, Director of the Center for Absorption in Science at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption spoke about the services they provide for returning scientists. Smadar Hirsh, Director of the Marie Curie Program and ERC at ISERD, the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate for the Horizon 2020 Program of the European Union explained the advantages of the support she can provide. Monika Lev-Cohen, the new CEO of BioAbroad reported on their activities and begged those present to remain in contact when abroad and bring their talents home. Rochelle Avitan, Program Manager of the Azrieli Fellows Program, presented her new program for faculty fellowships for reintegration of faculty in Israel's universities.
Attendees of the Career Fairs have the unique opportunity to meet with representatives of most of the universities, colleges and research centers, privately and in one location, to present themselves as candidates for positions and to receive answers to their personal questions. Over the years, the Career Fairs have proven to be another good tool for making initial contacts, breaking the ice, beginning the hiring process and eventually for leading to successful faculty acquisitions.
This year the conference will take place on December 24, 2015. It will offer information regarding all manners of reintegration in the research community of Israel, in universities, academic colleges, various research institutes, national and governmental agencies, industry and the private sector. Academy President Professor Nili Cohen will open the meeting and afterwards Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, the new Chair of Vatat, will speak on "Milestones Towards Forming of the Coming Five-Year Plan". The Keynote Speaker will be Professor Amnon Shashua, inventor of MOBILEYE. Afterwards a discussion will take place with the participation of Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professor Avi Domb, President of Azrieli: College of Engineering Jerusalem, Mr. Haim Rousso, former CEO of EL-OP and Executive VP of Elbit Systems, Dr. Kinneret Savitsky, CEO of BioLineRx, a Drug Development Company and Dr. Neta Lipman, Deputy Director of the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences and former director of MIMSHAK, The Science and Policy Fellowships Program. This year, prominent high-tech and bio-tech industries will participate in the Career Fair. Informal discussions will be held with researchers who successfully reintegrated in various research facilities.