Pictured Above / (Top to Bottom) Prof. Inbal Talgam-Cohen, Prof. Ofra Amir, Prof. Noga Ron-Harel, and Prof. Naama Geva Zatorksy

Four Technion scientists – all of whom are women – have been awarded early career Starting Grants by the European Research Council (ERC). The prestigious grants are used to further the research of those who demonstrate great potential in their fields of study. The quartet of awardees, who all come from different Technion faculties, are Assistant Professor Ofra Amir, Assistant Professor Naama Geva-Zatorsky, Assistant Professor Noga Ron-Harel, and Assistant Professor Inbal Talgam-Cohen.

Prof. Ofra Amir’s research centers around the intersection of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, helping to reduce the mistrust between humans and computer systems. A member of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, she will work towards developing adaptive and interactive methods for communicating AI-based systems’ behavior to users, creating algorithms about what information to share with users about the AI’s behavior, and designing interfaces that allow users to explore AI capabilities so they can understand them better. 

Prof. Naama Geva-Zatorsky of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine targets the interactions of our gut microbiota with our immune system and their subsequent effects on our health. She hopes to learn why some areas of patients’ guts become inflamed while others remain unaffected, understand more deeply how microbes and a patients’ immune system interact, and potentially gain insights that could lead to new and more accurate diagnostics and treatments.  

Prof. Noga Ron-Harel, from the Faculty of Biology, studies immune system aging, specifically focusing on T lymphocytes, which are cells that defend us against pathogens, mediate responses to vaccinations, and are among immune cell populations most adversely affected by aging. Prof. Ron-Harel will aim to explore pathways by which T cells interact with their aging microenvironment and understand the cause-and-effect relations between organs’ aging and T cells’ aging with the hope of discovering new ways to rejuvenate both. 

Prof. Inba Talgam-Cohen, from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, focuses on algorithms with economic and societal applications. She seeks to explore the economic field of “contract design,” by applying the algorithmic lens to design contracts through means of algorithms in a manner that incentivizes all involved parties to reach a successful cooperation.

The ERC, part of the Horizon Europe program, is the premier European funding organization for outstanding research. The ERC Starting Grant supports early-career scientists who head their own labs in creating strong research teams and exploring their most promising ideas.