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ISEF Foundation Scholar Mor Elgarisi, Ph.D is Pushing the Boundaries of Space Exploration Together with NASA

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First Gen. Student Fabricates Lenses from Fluids, in Space and Beyond, via Israel Scholarship Education Foundation

Edited by: TJVNews.com

The ISEF Foundation provides higher education scholarships and holistic support to over 400 talented young Israelis from immigrant and low-income families in the periphery each year, including Ph.D. candidate Mor Elgarisi. Mor grew up in the development town of Karmiel with his parents and three siblings. His grandparents immigrated from Syria and Morocco. His father didn’t get beyond high school; his mother has a vocational certificate. Nowadays Mor is part of Israel’s effort to push boundaries of space exploration together with NASA.

ISEF doctoral student, Mor Elgarisi. Photo Credit: Mor Elgarisi

He writes: ”Growing up, there was no one in my family or in my immediate surroundings that had an academic degree”.  Now, supported by the ISEF Foundation, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. His research in the Fluidic Technologies Laboratory recently made history and headlines, because Mor’s research with Professor Bercovici’s team focuses on a revolutionary method that allows the creation of optical components (from eyewear to telescopes) using liquids in microgravity conditions.

As part of his research, Mor and Bercovici’s group is collaborating with a team from NASA to create large liquid telescopes in space. In this project, Mor took part in a set of parabolic flight experiments and was involved in the design of an experiment performed on board the International Space Station.

The mission was a collaboration by Axiom Space, NASA Ames Research Center, Israel’s Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology, and the Ramon Foundation under the Rakia mission. Eytan Stibbe, the second Israeli astronaut, used the team design and experiment construction to test the ability to manufacture optical elements in space using a technology developed in Mor’s lab called Fluidic Shaping. Astronaut Eytan Stibbe successfully fabricated several lenses in space by injecting special liquids into frames, forming liquid lenses, and polymerizing them to create solid lenses. That was the first time ever that an optical component was fabricated in space.

“As a teenager, it didn’t occur to me that I would earn an advanced degree. I didn’t even think I would go to college. The distance between myself and higher education felt huge. I didn’t quite believe that I’d be able to do it and I couldn’t afford it, but finally, I decided to try anyway.” With ISEF’s support, his hard work, and fascination by the latest research into manufacturing optical elements using fluids, he finished his Bachelor’s degree and entered the direct track to a Ph.D.

Now married to Irena, the couple have a 4 year old son and a baby daughter. Mor continues to collaborate with NASA, teach at the Technion,  and volunteer as a mentor to a group of at-risk seventh graders.

About ISEF, Mor says: “I joined the ISEF family and discovered a group of phenomenal people, who came, like me, from places that lacked opportunity, but then smashed their glass ceiling anyway and achieved so much.”

Since 1977, the Israel Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) has been empowering talented first-generation Israeli students from underserved backgrounds to reach their highest potential, igniting positive change in Israeli society. ISEF’s wraparound programs nurture the best in each individual. ISEF’s success rate working with students from immigrant and low-income families is unparalleled – over 95% finish their degrees, and some 25% go on for advanced training. Compare this to a degree completion rate of just 40% among first-generation students in the USA.

Mor Elgarisi with the experiment. Photo Credit: Mor Elgarisi

Currently there are over 7,500 accomplished ISEF alumni  who are shattering cultural and gender stereotypes, making major contributions to advancing Israeli society, including: five college presidents, MKs, heads of hospitals, leading professors and scientists, transplant surgeons, award-winning architects, authors, and many more.

On May 15, 2023, ISEF will be celebrating its 46th Anniversary with a gala benefit dinner in Manhattan.  For more information, please visit ISEFfoundation.org and connect with the ISEF Foundation on social media via Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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