50 Influential Jews: Doug Seserman and Prof. Daniel Chamovitz – No. 43

Source: The Jerusalem Post, 50 Influential Jews: Doug Seserman and Prof. Daniel Chamovitz - No. 43 (

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has grown into a pioneer in sustainability research worldwide. Prof. Daniel Chamovitz is behind this change, and Doug Seserman is the force promoting it.

Ben Gurion University of the Negev president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and Americans for Ben-Gurion University CEO Doug Seserman.(photo credit: Courtesy, DANI MACHLIS/BGU)

Ben-Gurion University has evolved beyond being just an educational institution in the Negev; it has become a pioneering force shaping the future of sustainability in Israel and globally. BGU plays a pivotal role in the DesertTech community, a collaborative initiative with the Israeli Innovation Institute and the David and Laura Merage Foundation, that has hosted and trained leaders from Africa and worldwide. This partnership focuses on advancing technologies that enable humanity to thrive in arid desert environments while using its resources efficiently. The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, part of BGU, offer comprehensive coursework covering water management, energy solutions, and ecology.

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At the helm of BGU in Israel is President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, whose visionary leadership has been instrumental in the university’s transformation. In the United States, the driving force behind promoting BGU’s mission is Doug Seserman, the CEO of Americans for Ben-Gurion University.

Prof. Daniel Chamovitz

Professor Daniel Chamovitz serves as the president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. A distinguished scientist, sought-after lecturer, and insightful scientific commentator, Chamovitz also holds a board position at ICIPE, a leading African institution dedicated to addressing critical issues in food security.

His academic entrepreneurship is evident in his founding of the Manna Center for Food Security at Tel Aviv University. Furthermore, he has held visiting scientist roles at prestigious institutions such as Yale University, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Peking University.

Chamovitz is internationally acclaimed for his seminal book, What a Plant Knows. This groundbreaking work won a silver medal from the Nautilus Book Awards, and also earned a place among Amazon’s Top 10 Science Books. The book’s influence has been far-reaching, with translations available in 20 languages and an associated course that has engaged over 100,000 students worldwide.

Born in the United States, Chamovitz made aliyah in 1984 and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Following a postdoctoral stint at Yale University, where he identified the COP9 Signalosome – a pivotal protein complex with vital roles in developmental and environmental regulation – he established a research laboratory at Tel Aviv University. There, his team has made noteworthy contributions with ramifications for both agriculture and human health.

On the personal front, Chamovitz is married to Professor Shira Yalon-Chamovitz, and they are the proud parents of three children.

Doug Seserman

Doug Seserman, CEO of Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU), is a 21st century Zionist thought leader. In his role, he has helped rally support in the United States for one of Israel’s most positive attributes – its beneficial global impact, as delivered through Ben-Gurion University. The Negev, a vast desert region covering 60% of Israel’s territory but home to only 10% of its population, symbolizes Israel’s innovative spirit, Seserman told The Jerusalem Post earlier this year.

Seserman believes that the future of Zionism lies in keeping the vision of Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, alive: making the desert bloom. Seserman and A4BGU launched Ben-Gurion Day in the USA to celebrate Ben-Gurion’s legacy. This year, it will be celebrated in November and serve as a reminder of the hope emanating from the Negev and Ben-Gurion University.

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