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Aseel Shomar 2019-2020

Institution of PhD:
Tecnion – Israel Institute of Technology
Academic Discipline of PhD:
Chemical Engineering
PhD Advisor/s:
Prof. Naama Brenner
Dissertation Topic:
Cell States and Transitions in Development and Cancer: Insights from Learning Theory
Present Academic Position:
PhD Student

Aseel was born and raised in Nazareth. Her belief that integrating purportedly alien fields could produce innovative applications led her to study biochemical engineering at the Technion, with the goal of unraveling some of the mysteries of cancer. Her first efforts to tackle cancer using collaborative approaches culminated in her senior thesis, which aimed to develop nano-sized factories to manufacture cancer drugs at tumor sites.

As Aseel began her MSc studies in the prestigious interdisciplinary Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Program at the Technion, she became interested in neuroscience, based as it is on the recruitment of such varied fields as biology, physics, mathematics and computer science. This led her to join the ongoing fruitful collaboration between Prof. Naama Brenner and Prof. Noam Ziv. Her MSc project, on which she has published a paper, described a mesoscopiclevel model that provides an effective description of spontaneous synaptic size dynamics.

Aseel received both degrees summa cum laude, ranking first in her class. She has received several prizes and fellowships for her distinguished academic achievements, including the Noam Fellowship, the Technion Alumni Prize, the Goldstein Prize, the Avrahami Prize and the Sherman Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship.

Having equipped herself with vital skills from wide-ranging fields, she now aims to introduce concepts long studied in neuroscience to the study of cancer and stem cells. Her PhD project, supervised by Professors Brenner and Barak, will focus on describing the transitions between different cell states using concepts from learning theory.

In addition to her research, Aseel serves as a project instructor in the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and a teaching assistant in the Faculty of Medicine.