On Wednesday May 8, 2013

The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research (SIDEER) was dedicated last week at the Sede Boqer campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The Institute is one of three that comprise the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.
“Switzerland and Israel have strong bilateral relations that are gaining strength,” said Swiss Ambassador to Israel His Excellency Andreas Baum. “We are looking forward to potential cooperation in the future, to scientific partnerships and exchanges,” he added.
He also thanked the private Swiss supporters of the Institute. “We are very proud and lucky as we benefit from private donors,” he said.
BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi stressed the international nature of the Sede Boqer campus.
“Graduates of the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies (AKIS) change the world on the ground. It is an international campus in all regards – supported by international friends and attended by international students. We are turning this campus into an international hub and you will be proud of your investment,” she said. AKIS was created with the generous support of the late Ilse Katz and the Negev Foundation, both also from Switzerland.
Michel Halpérin, President, Swiss Associates, remarked: “It is important to be here in Sede Boqer. It is a place like no other. It is a combination of science and imagination. The quality of research and the topics addressed are totally challenging from a human standpoint.
“The place of Switzerland is natural. Switzerland needs the desert and the desert needs the alpine. We brought the waterfalls,” he quipped.
The ceremony also featured the naming of the Bona Terra Department of Man in the Desert and the Alexandre Yersin Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics.
Prof. Daniel Guggenheim, President of the Bona Terra Foundation, “There is a parallel between Switzerland and Israel. Both had to face difficult land conditions. Both made a success of these existential conditions. Let us hope that other countries will be able to overcome their challenges through the Swiss Institute.”
Director of the Swiss Institute Prof. Boris Zaltzman previewed the new laboratories and degrees that will be built in the coming years.
The laboratories will include:
  • Geospatial and Architecture Imaging and Analysis in Desert Environments
  • Ecological and Evolutionary Parasitology
  • Wildlife Conservation and Management
  • Climate Change
  • Photovoltaic and Charge Transfer
  • Solar optics

Two new MSc. Degrees will also be created:
  • Physics of the Environment and Fundamentals of Solar Energy
  • Ecology, Conservation, and Management

The inauguration on Wednesday May 8,​​​​​​​ 2013
Left to right: BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, Prof. Daniel Guggenheim, president, Bona Terra Foundation, Michel Halpérin, president, Swiss Associates, BIDR Director Prof. Pedro Berliner. (Dani Machlis/BGU)

Swiss Ambassador His Excellency Andreas Baum at the ceremony. (Dani Machlis/BGU)