Weizmann Americas



Exploring the universe and the human brain

April 12 7 pm ET
18:00 Mexico  20:00 ARG/Brazil 

Through the eyes of astronaut

Col. Chris


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Our Event



Chris Hadfield

Sixty years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to go into space on April 12, 1961. Now known as the International Day of Human Space Flight, the milestone is said to have led ‘the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity.’

With a broader mission of ‘science for the benefit of humanity,’ the committees representing the Weizmann Institute of Science within the Americas, will come together on April 12 (7 pm ET), 2021 for a one-of-a-kind pan-American signature event featuring the final frontiers through the eyes of astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield.

Col. Hadfield will be joined by Weizmann Institute scientists Prof. Ofer Yizhar, Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami and Prof. Oded Aharonson to discuss advancements within two of our flagship projects, namely, The Institute for Brain and Neural Sciences and Frontiers of the Universe.


Bess and Sam Ekstein Chicago, Illinois

David Geller Brookline, Massachusetts

Ernie Kretzmer Sarasota, Florida

The Margaret and Leo Meyer and Hans M. Hirsch Foundation Tuckahoe, New York

Mila and Ira Millman
Millman Group at Morgan Stanley New York, New York


Col. Chris Hadfield Astronaut | First Canadian Commander of the International Space Station

Referred to as “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Chris Hadfield became a household name as the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station. Formerly NASA’s Director of Operations, Hadfield is a heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and test pilot whose many awards include the Order of Canada and the Meritorious Service Cross. Hadfield is also a three-time bestselling author, an acclaimed musician, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, chair of the board of the Open Lunar Foundation, and host of two internationally acclaimed television series. In addition, Hadfield leads the space stream at Creative Destruction Lab, one of the world’s top tech incubators.

Weizmann Institute flagship: The Institute for Brain and Neural Sciences

Prof. Ofer Yizhar Department of Neurobiology

Prof. Yizhar focuses his investigations on unraveling the mysteries of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that contributes to many higher brain functions, including language, working memory, emotional regulation, and goal-directed behavior. To investigate the physiology of neural circuits, he uses optogenetics, a tool that enables the investigation of neuron functions. He has played a pivotal role in the development of many of the optogenetic tools being used today worldwide in brain research. His research has implications for the study and treatment of brain-related disorders including autism, schizophrenia, mood and anxiety disorders, epilepsy, and beyond.

Dr. Moran Shalev-Benami Department of Chemical and Structural Biology

Dr. Shalev-Benami studies the structure of protein machineries that are expressed on cell surfaces, and which are in charge of cellular communication throughout the body. By combining cryo-EM with biochemistry, molecular biology, and mass spectroscopy techniques, she aims to advance the understanding of how these proteins work to maintain proper communication between cells, and how their malfunction contributes to the development of a variety of diseases and disorders. Dr. Shalev-Benami has received numerous awards for her academic, research, and teaching excellence, and was the first awardee of the Combined Weizmann-Abroad Postdoctoral Fellowship for Advancing Women in Science (2015-2017).

Weizmann Institute flagship: Frontiers of the Universe

Prof. Oded Aharonson Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Prof. Aharonson uses laboratory simulations – computer modeling combined with data from the latest space missions – to piece together planetary puzzles. He has contributed as a team member to several space exploration projects, including NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Exploration Rovers, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and ESA’s upcoming European Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission. He served as Mission Scientist of SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander to the Moon, leading the SpaceIL Science Team in exploring the enigmatic magnetism of the lunar rocks. He is also a member of the ULTRASAT Science Team, Weizmann’s next Israeli space exploration project.

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