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Jerusalem Post: The BGU Lecturer Shaping Science in the Negev

Jerusalem Post: The BGU Lecturer Shaping Science in the Negev

June 26, 2022

Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought, Negev Development & Community Programs

The Jerusalem Post — Though some of us feel fortunate if we understand our blood test results, many people are awed by the subject of chemistry. Conversely, Dr. Joshua Baraban of BGU’s Department of Chemistry, can’t remember a time when the mysteries and complexities of science were not part of his life.

(Photo credit: Baraban family)

“I wanted to be a scientist from a young age,” he confides, “and am very grateful to the many wonderful teachers and mentors I had at all stages.” No doubt these formative encounters have led him to view his current role as a chemistry lecturer and head of a research laboratory at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev as that of teacher and mentor, too. He holds fast to the tenet that “science can make the world and humanity better.”

Commenting on the last five years since he and his family made aliyah, Baraban is overwhelmingly positive. “We like Israel and Beer-Sheva, and also our jobs,” he says. “I run my own research group on the chemistry faculty, and also teach undergraduate and graduate students. I was, and still am, very enthusiastic about BGU and its chemistry department, and think that the university and Beer-Sheva have a very bright future.”

On the career level, Baraban comments that “science and technology are still growing here, and regarding opportunities, the potential is very strong. As many younger students will move on to industry, he explains the applied outcomes of their work. These might include new experimental technologies to develop friendly fuels, or exploring untapped possibilities of materials and compounds.

Dr. Joshua Baraban of BGU’s Department of Chemistry

“Moving to a new country obviously required a lot of adjustments to how things work, and in a new language. We were fortunate to get a lot of support from the community here (neighbors, the local shuls, and so on).” But “random strangers” also reached out to help them. “When we went to buy beds soon after arriving here, the store-owner heard that we were new olim,” Baraban relates. “He insisted we take loaner mattresses for free until the ones ordered arrived.”

How does Joshua cultivate younger people’s interest in science? “My lab does a lot of tours for kids and teens,” he responded. “Tomorrow we are hosting local high school students interested in chemistry. Everyone likes seeing lasers.” The kids are thrilled to discover that lasers do not only appear in Star Wars!

Read more in The Jerusalem Post >