unsuccessful at determining if they’re truly like our Earth, due to interfering ‘stellar noise’. Dr Perdelwitz, together with his mentor Dr Lev Tal-Or, is working on this problem precisely. “For now, we’d just like to know if life exists elsewhere in the universe, even if it’s only in the form of bacteria,” he says. “I’d consider that to be the greatest discovery of mankind.”

The Ariel University advantage Dr Perdelwitz was born in Bergisch Gladbach, a small German town near Cologne, and grew up in Hamburg. As a young boy, he dreamed of becoming an archaeologist, but by the time he’d become a teenager, he excelled in mathematics. So, he decided to become a physicist instead. He spent much of his time studying particle physics, a branch of physics that focuses on the most minute forms of matter. After graduating from Heidelberg University,

he spent a year in Norway before completing his doctorate at the Hamburg Observatory. As a young astronomer, Dr Perdelwitz could then have chosen to move anywhere in the world, working remotely with data gleaned from space telescopes and instruments located in places like Chile, Hawaii and the Spanish islands. What made him choose to come to Israel? “My wife and I both wanted a change from European scenery, so we made a list of places we’d like to

22 Israeli Academia | 2021

live, and Israel was at the top of the list, above the U.S. and South Korea,” he explains. “I contacted Dr Tal-Or, who I’d met when he was doing his postdoc in Germany. We were familiar with each other’s work, and he was forming a new group at Ariel University. One thing led to another, and I quickly decided to accept his offer to do my postdoc here. “Ariel is a young university, with a vibrant

research environment. I like the idea of being part of something new. Until now, I studied in older, well-established universities, where the wheels tend to turn much slower. Lev and I share the same dynamic approach to science.” Dr Perdelwitz and his wife received a lot of help

securing the authorizations for entering the country in July 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 crisis, enabling him to begin his postdoc on time. He’s very pleased with his experience in Israel and at Ariel University so far. “There’s a very important advantage to

choosing Ariel,” he continues. “Israel’s first scientific space telescope, ULTRASAT, is being built right now and is scheduled to be launched in 2024. It’s a perfect opportunity for me to get in on the ground level. I’ve been involved in other space missions that were 10-15 years in the planning, but this one is scheduled to launch in a couple of years. I feel fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”

The Schlesinger Center at Ariel is Israel’s national center for accelerators and radiation sources. It covers a range of applications, from cancer cures to security technologies


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