Sivan Eliyahu (34), a PhD Candidate in Virology at The Azrieli School of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University. in the Galilee, is also the School’s Students’ Union’s Vice-Chairperson of Advanced Degrees.
Eliyahu, a married mother of three, explains: “My role at the Students’ Union is to help graduate students receive scholarships, resolve some personal issues and advance their social involvement in the local community. As Vice-Chairperson I’d like to enhance our collaboration with education professionals and institutions in Northern Israel, and create programs that will expose the regions’ teens to the medicine and other sciences.”
Eliyahu explains she chose to study virology because after completing a BSc in the Technion, she worked in an electrophysiology lab, and became fascinated by the field of medical research. “After moving from Haifa to Kfar Vradim, I read many articles by Dr. Meital Gal-Tanamy (also of BIU’s School of Medicine) about her research of Hepetitis-C. I was very intrigued and decided to research this disease and the immune system’s reaction to this viral infection. I was physically closer to Safed and to the School, so the move came naturally.”
Eliyahu says she moved with her family to the Galilee because she felt they belonged there. “I grew up in Nahariya, and I love the area. I see my work here as a calling. I want to help advance the region and cultivate advanced research projects here.
Before the School was established, there were no formidable research facilities in the Galilee, and Bar-Ilan changed that.” Eliyahu says that taking part in establishing a research facility from the ground up was highly educational. “The highly advanced lab equipment we have been privileged to use helped me learn new technologies currently at the forefront of medical research, ones that I didn’t have a chance to get to know at the Technion.” She also praises the faculty members, who she finds to be Zionistic, determined and hardworking. “I’ve learned how to be a better scientist, and how the process works from beginning to end.”
In addition to being a busy student, researcher, and mother, Eliyahu also finds the time to voluntarily teach science in schools and preschools. “I think it’s very important to expose young children to basic scientific thought. In the long term we hope to include sciences in preschool and primary school curriculum. Currently, children are taught the age old scientific paradigm. But I feel they don’t get the chance to ask questions. They are handed everything is an existing reality. If they are not exposed to scientific thought, how will they learn to question the world they live in and make new discoveries?”