Marco and Louise Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology (MDDE)
The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research (SIDEER)
Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
My life before BGU:
I grew up in Haifa on the Carmel, mainly in the wadi and the woods below my house. If I came home in the evening without wounds, cuts or covered in tree sap, something wasn't right.
I studied for my first degree in life sciences at Tel Aviv University, and I continued there for a master's degree in the ecology and environment track at the Department of Zoology. I completed my Ph.D. in biomathematics, again in the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University. Then I went for a post-doc at Oxford University, in the School of Geography and the Environment and the Department of Zoology.
My research falls under the broad umbrella of nature preservation research, which examines the two-way relationship that man has with the nature around him. I am interested in large-scale information questions having to do with data on flora and fauna, climatic and environmental factors, with humankind's effects on them and of nature on humankind. One of the new issues I am investigating is the relationship of people to animals, plants and generally to their surroundings, as expressed in large internet data bases, such as Google, Wikipedia or Twitter. We are at the moment putting together an international work group on this this new field, which is called Conservation Culturomics.
"we must not forget nature, its complexity and its beauty. We need to be mindful of nature and all its components, and when we simplify it through models and equations, we should remain humble about our ability to explain or extrapolate our ideas onto it"
After three and a half years in England, my need to wake up each morning to sun in a blue sky was intense. I came to the Department of Desert Ecology at Sede Boqer which is undoubtedly THE place to be when dealing with nature conservation research in Israel. We have a new and unique study master's program in the field, with many excellent new researchers and a lot of activity in this important developing field. In addition, I have had a deep bond with Sede Boqer and its surroundings for many years. In many ways I felt as if I had come home.
An insight from my research:
Something quite trivial for someone who researches nature as I do, but – we must not forget nature, its complexity and its beauty. We need to be mindful of nature and all its components, and when we simplify it through models and equations, we should remain humble about our ability to explain or extrapolate our ideas onto it. To use nature always as a source for inspiration and criticism.
Something that doesn't appear on my resume:
I've collected stamps since I was 3 years old. But on the other hand, I am starting a research project on expressions of nature on stamps and their relationship to people – so this might one day appear on my CV after all...
A source of inspiration:
A movie – The Princess Bride, an inexhaustible source of insights about life.
When I grow up:
I'll travel for a living… and I'll travel for a living…
If I was not a researcher, I would be involved with:
carpentry or gardening
Maccabi or HaPoel? HaPoel – I am always for the working class!
An isolated cabin in nature or a pampering hotel in the city? If I have to choose…. an isolated cabin, but a tent and sleeping bag is even better.
Dire Straits or Queen? It depends on my mood.
Meet other researchers who joined us this year »