Office: 275, Multipurpose Building
Department: Marine Biology
Research Areas: The impact of aquatic ecosystems on the environment and society, ranging from the local to the global scales
Laboratory: Aquatic Ecology and Biological Oceanography Laboratory
Message from the Head of the School ,Prof. Ilana Berman-Frank
Over 70% of the world is colored blue with the oceans and seas surrounding us. Our oceans are the foundation for life on Earth. The oceans are a lifeline; providing an important buffer for climatic changes and a source for diverse resources including our food and energy supplies, natural products from the sea, and currently, for many dry countries, a potable source of water. Yet, this lifeline is at risk with the increasing impacts of global changes combined with the expanding global demand and utilization of marine resources. Moreover, we still know relatively little of the secrets of the seas, of the workings of this great ecosystem, and of the ways by which we can mitigate and predict some of the threats to this environment.
These concerns raise the need for developing proactive responses on regional and global levels, based on a truly interdisciplinary understanding of the oceans and their surroundings. The task requires a new generation of experts with a wide perspective of marine sciences.
The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences (CSMS) is a unique initiative on a global scale, applying an interdisciplinary approach with highly professional standards. The largest academic center of marine sciences in Israel, CSMS (U.of Haifa) was the only Israeli program included by the 2020 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities for Oceanography in the top 200 universities world-wide. Currently CSMS has three complementary Departments: the Dr. Strauss Department of Marine Geosciences, the Department of Marine Biology and the Hatter Department of Marine Technologies. We also actively partake in teaching issues of marine science within the curricula of a Bachelors of Arts program for Navy captains, and within the Masters program in National Security and Maritime Strategies through the School of Political Sciences.
Professor Ilana Berman-Frank transferred to the University of Haifa in March 2018 with more than 15 years as a faculty member at the Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University. Prof. Berman-Frank immigrated to Israel from the USA as a child and after finishing high-school and army service returned to complete her BSc. in Biology and Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. Then returned to Israel and finished her PhD (joint Bar Ilan U and Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR)) and an initial post-doctoral fellowship from the Hebrew U studying the dominant algae of the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s only freshwater lake. She then spent 4 years of post-doctoral work at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, NJ before returning to Israel and Bar Ilan University where she successfully headed the Aquatic Ecology and Biological Oceanography laboratory.
Research at the Berman-Frank laboratory is dedicated to the impact of aquatic ecosystems on the environment and society, ranging from the local to the global scales, from Lake Kinneret to the Mediterranean and Red Seas, to the South Pacific Ocean. Research is focused on how global changes and environmental stressors influence the organisms forming the base of the aquatic food-webs.
Other research projects at the Berman-Frank laboratory are more locally relevant to issues specifically affecting our local marine environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and include examining the impacts of discharges from the rapidly expanding desalination industries on microbial coastal populations. As principal investigator of a large collaborative interdisciplinary project (with co-PIs from Bar Ilan University, the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR)l Co, the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and MERCI consortium) the Berman-Frank laboratory helped establish and deploy the first deep-water tethered mooring in the Levantine basin of the eastern Mediterranean with an array of instruments providing physical, chemical, and biological measurements.
In addition to active research and teaching, Prof. Berman-Frank has extensive experience in local and international capacities promoting marine sciences. She has served as President of the Israeli Association of Aquatic Sciences; Chair of the Education Committee, Mediterranean Sea Research Center of Israel (MERCI – a consortium of all Israeli Universities focusing on Mediterranean Sea research and education); Co-Chair of the International Group of Aquatic Primary Productivity (GAP); member of the International Association of Limnology and Oceanography(ASLO) ethics and scientific organizing committees; member of the Board of Directors for “EcoOcean” an environmental NGO promoting marine research and education; and organizer of an international course in Italy sponsored by EcoOcean “Environmental Issues Know no Boundaries” bringing together graduate students from Mediterranean countries in conflict to work jointly on marine and environmental issues affecting us all beyond national borders.
Ilana Berman-Frank lives on Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi in the Upper Galilee, is the proud mother of four daughters and 2 grandchildren.