Scholarship in honor of Ari Kushner Dunietz 2024

AKD prize for graduate students - Harnessing Israeli Ingenuity in the Battle for Environmental Protection 



Donated by: 

Helen Deller
Adriel Deller  
Alexis Deller-Kushner
Joseph, Robert and Simon Kushner Deller  



The Ari Kushner prize for graduate students seeks to promote a vibrant exchange of knowledge between Israeli scientists and their peers from the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, as a means of solving burning issues in the conservation and protection of this unique, endangered area.


The Galápagos Islands have experienced growing threats and challenges, in particular the degradation of the local ecosystem due to anthropogenic changes and the introduction of invasive species. If we are to efficiently safeguard these culturally rich pristine islands, it is crucial to find alternative ways to understand—and ultimately mitigate—these challenges. Scientists from Israeli universities have the knowledge, expertise, and strong motivation to contribute significantly to the global efforts to protect the Galápagos Islands from diverse perspectives. 


Ari Kushner z'l was a lion. Strong in his convictions, fierce in loving his family and friends, and voracious in his appetite for leaning. He fell in love with Ecuador after visiting it with his future wife, Alexis. After traveling the country extensively he appreciated its natural beauty and rich flora and fauna. A Zionist, he was fiercely proud of his heritage and of his beloved Israel. Ari found great joy in the technological and scientific prowess that helped define modern Israel. He consumed as much of the research that was produced as he could, loving learning along the way and engaging in the subject matter at depth. Ari passed away after a courageous battle against cancer. He leaves behind his wife Alexis, his children Joseph, Robert and Simon. 


May Ari’s legacy endure in others’ learning, research and discoveries.


Prize details

Each year two talented graduate students from participating institutes will be awarded up to $3500 to cover their travel, accommodation and research expenses in the Galápagos Islands. Students are expected to stay up to 12 weeks and conduct a research project in collaboration with a local scientist.  Upon their return, fellowship participants will need to submit a report of their activities, which will be used for research purposes in addition to being shared with fellowship donors. All products that result from the collaboration will ensure that the appropriate co-authorship is given to those who participate in the study.


The prize will be awarded for five years with the possibility of extension depending on successful projects


Deadline 16/5/2024 



Areas of research

Fellowship recipients will conduct research in one or more of the following main themes:

Biodiversity and conservation (marine or terrestrial)
Threats and challenges of island ecosystems
Sustainability and innovation for the Galápagos Islands


Click here to apply >> 

For any further information please contact Prof. Noa Shenkar



Selection committee


Tel Aviv University


Committee Chair; School of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Science, and The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies


Head of the Water Research Center & Head of the Hydrochemistry Research Group, School of Environment & Earth Sciences, Faculty of Exact Sciences


Hebrew University


Vice Dean for International Affairs & Head of The International School of Agricultural Sciences, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment


Morris and Helen Mauerberger Chair in Agricultural Entomology, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment


Ben-Gurion University


Chair-Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the 

Former President of the Geological Society of Israel 


Award recipients



Shahar Dubiner is a PhD student in the School of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, researching the ecological drivers of physiological changes in reptiles under the supervision of Prof. Shai Meiri and Prof. Eran Levin.

His project in the Galapagos Science Center focus on how the endemic marine iguana Amblyrhynchus cristatus shifts its metabolism and thermoregulation during El Niño events to cope with sea warming-induced food shortage.

Shahar dubiner
Shahar Dubiner 



Omri Nahor is a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Haifa, conducting his research under the guidance of Dr. Tal Luzzatto Knaan the head of the Metabolomic lab, and Dr. Alvaro Israel from the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) Institute.

Omri is investigating the invasive red marine macroalgae, Asparagopsis taxiformis, in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. His study encompasses various aspects, including the algae's origin and cryptogenic status, as well as its microbiome and metabolomics, conducted through a two-year survey. In the Galapagos, Omri aims to determine the local invasive Asparagopsis sp. origin and cryptogenic status and to establish a molecular seaweed monitoring program.

Omri Nahor




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