His research specifically focuses on catalysis and its role in constructing complex organic molecules — the building blocks for all life forms — with the aim of finding sustainable routes toward important bioactive molecules.
Itai has received numerous accolades for his research and teaching including most recently being named to Forbes Israel’s “30 under 30” list 2023. Other honors include the Leonard and Diane Sherman Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Fellowship, the ICS excellent graduate student award, the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Memorial Fellowship, the Schulich Scholarship for Excellent Undergraduate Students, and five teaching awards. This past year, he was selected to participate in the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in chemistry.
Raised in Zichron Yaakov, a town just south of Haifa, Itai undertook one year of undergraduate studies at the Open University of Israel before transferring to the Technion. He earned his bachelor’s degree cum laude and his master’s degree, both in chemistry. He is currently in the direct track for his Ph.D.
Passionate about teaching, Itai has served as a teaching assistant and substitute lecturer in three different organic chemistry courses from the undergraduate to graduate level; instructed the exam prep course Organic Chemistry for Engineers provided by the Technion Student Association; and served as a private tutor of organic chemistry in the Technion Center for Advancement of Learning.
Itai lives in the Graduate Village dorms with his partner Tal, also an organic chemist. Residing on campus allows him to invest more time in research, but he makes time for hobbies and other interests. Itai likes to play the drums and listen to jazz music, and during the Covid lockdown started to play chess.
After completing his Ph.D. (expected in March 2023), Itai plans to move to the U.K. to conduct postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridge. Looking further ahead, he hopes to return to Israel as a faculty member, exploring questions in chemistry and catalysis he believes will have a tangible impact on society.