Weizmann graduate, ex-prof share Nobel Prize for chemistry

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arieh Warshel, a U.S. professor born and educated in Israel, and ex-Weizmann Institute professor Michael Levitt were among the winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

Warshel, 74, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Southern California, and Levitt, of Stanford University, were named Wednesday along with Martin Karplus of the University of Strasbourg in France and Harvard University.

Warshel received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Technion Institute in Haifa, and his master’s degree and doctorate in chemical physics from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. He joined the USC faculty in 1976.

Levitt, a native of Pretoria, South Africa, was a professor at the Weizmann Institute in the 1980s and reportedly took Israeli citizenship, the Times of Israel reported.

Karplus, a Vienna native, is the son of secular Jewish parents who were well respected in the Austrian capital. In 1938, he fled with his parents from the advance of the Nazis.

They won the prize for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems” because “computer models mirroring real life have become crucial for most advances made in chemistry today,” the Royal Swedish Academy said in a statement. “Today the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube. Simulations are so realistic that they predict the outcome of traditional experiments.”

On Tuesday, Francois Englert, a Belgian Jewish professor at Tel Aviv University and a Holocaust survivor, shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Peter Higgs of Britain. On Monday,  Jewish Americans James Rothman of Yale University and Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, joined German-born researcher Thomas Suedhof of Stanford University in winning  the Nobel Prize in medicine.

 

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