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University of Haifa
Much of my childhood was spent wandering in the Mediterranean wadis and forests of Mt. Carmel in northern Israel, admiring the beauty and richness of nature. This contributed significantly to my education by invoking curiosity, awe and love of nature. Since then, much of these natural playgrounds have been developed, built, paved and sucked dry. Witnessing this trend with sorrow while growing up, I gradually found that I had to dedicate myself to countering these changes.
My activity started with joining Green Course, a students' environmental NGO, where I became highly involved in local conservation and education campaigns. Soon I became the coordinator of the Green Course chapter of the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies, where I studied for one year, focusing on environmental policy. During that time I organized media interviews, demonstrations, educational activities and symposia, mostly related to the degradation of the coral reef at the Gulf of Aqaba-Eilat. I was awarded for these activities, but I felt that knowledge of natural systems is lagging far behind the level needed to balance their degradation or to restore them. This understanding led me to switch direction and study for BSc in Life Sciences with major in ecology.
During my undergraduate studies, I conducted a research project on life-history strategies of a desert annual. The results have been presented at a conference of the Israeli Society of Plant Sciences, and a manuscript is under review for publication. This study will be presented at the 2007 ESA meetings by a co-author of mine.
Having graduated with “distinction”, I have just begun my PhD studies this academic year, looking at life-history strategies of the locally endangered fire salamander, Salamandra salamandra, in unpredictable conditions of temporary pools. Amphibians and temporary pools are excellent systems for understanding ecological and evolutionary processes, especially with regard to climate change and habitat fragmentation – processes that are considered a serious threat to biodiversity worldwide. Amphibian populations are believed to be a reliable indicator of ecosystem health, and their declines are widely studied. I have applied to present a talk about my first year's research results at the 2007 ESA meetings.
I envision my work in studying ecology as an aid to conservation management policies both in general, by addressing basic ecological questions, and specific, by studying endangered populations of endangered species. In addition to academic work, I intend to keep being involved in environmental and conservation policies and education, by teaching and interacting with the National Parks Authorities. I also believe the development of ecology and its teaching in schools will promote general education towards intellectual curiosity, love of nature and environmentally-responsible conduct.