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  • Dr. Wasim Huleihel Named TAU’s Inaugural Neubauer Lecturer

    Rising star aims to increase diversity and opportunities for minorities on campus
    27 May 2021
    Dr. Wasim Huleihel. Photo: Moshe Bedarshi

    Dr. Wasim Huleihel is on a mission.

     

    As one of a handful of Arab faculty members at Tel Aviv University and its first Neubauer Lecturer, he says he is well-suited to help minority students succeed in academia.

     

    The 31-year-old is the scion of two high-achieving parents from Beersheva; his father is a professor of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where Huleihel earned his BSc and MSc, and his mother is a teacher-trainer. He thanks them for teaching him to cope with cultural differences from an early age, which helped him integrate successfully into diverse environments.

     

    After completing two post-doctoral years at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Huleihel joined TAU’s Fleischman Faculty of Engineering in 2020 as a senior lecturer in electrical engineering.

     

    Prior to that he earned a PhD at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, where he investigated relationships between information theory and statistical mechanics. Huleihel has received numerous awards, including the Maof Prize for excellent young faculty and the Advanced Communication Center (ACC) Feder Family Award for outstanding research work in the field of communication technologies.

     

    These achievements led him to be chosen as TAU’s first Neubauer Lecturer, part of the Neubauer Foundation’s Israeli-Arab Academic Career Pathways Initiative, aimed at boosting diversity in the University’s academic community, specifically in STEM.

     

    Cutting-Edge Research

    Huleihel now focuses on the theory of machine learning and high-dimensional statistics—prominent, fast-moving fields used in brain-imaging research among other areas. In addition, he studies the effect of misinformation in social media, such as fake news disseminated on COVID-19. His research could ultimately lead to faster, cheaper, energy-efficient technologies, and to more secure and reliable social networks.

     

    These days, Huleihel is also busy raising his one-year-old daughter, Sahara, with “my amazing wife, Sana,” herself a researcher at the Technion.

     

    Diversity = Opportunity

    Huleihel praises TAU for many reasons, among them its “extremely strong and well-recognized researchers” and its academic diversity, which provides “a golden opportunity to collaborate with seemingly unrelated researchers in other departments.”

     

    Alongside his research, Huleihel strives to encourage talented minority students to pursue graduate studies in engineering and exact sciences. “Though many are extremely well-suited for pursuing advanced degrees, the majority opt for tempting positions in high-tech,” he says. “From my experience, graduate studies can open many doors and play a key role in promoting and advancing Arab society in general. As a faculty member, I have a precious opportunity to change this misconception and will do my utmost to advance this.”

     

    By: Susan de la Fuente

    Read an interview with Jeanette and Joseph Neubauer of the Neubauer Foundation.

     

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