Hebrew University Professor Named as Israel's Chief Scientist at the Science Ministry

Nurit Yirmiya, an expert on childhood autism, is a tenured professor and former dean of students at Hebrew University.

Ora Coren
Ora Coren
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Ora Coren
Ora Coren

Nurit Yirmiya, a psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been named the new chief scientist in the Science and Technology Ministry.

Yirmiya will replace Professor Ehud Gazit, who is leaving after two years in the position. Science and Technology Minister Jacob Perry made the announcement on Wednesday.

Yirmiya, who was born in 1960, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from the University of Haifa and completed her doctorate in developmental and clinical psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also did postdoctoral work. At age 30, she was appointed a lecturer in the Department of Psychology and the School of Education at Hebrew University.

She became a professor after ten years and received tenure five years after that.

Her main areas of research are cognitive, emotional, social and genetic aspects of autism and the risk factors involved. Her work focuses on “developmental trajectories of preterm infants, associations between perinatal, postnatal and genetic factors and developmental characteristics of young children, characteristics of the Broad Autism Phenotype in Siblings of Children with Autism, and the resolution of the diagnosis among parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.” Her laboratories employ some 15 graduate and undergraduate students.

Also at Hebrew University, Yirmiya served as dean of students in 2011-2012 and the director of the Leifer Center for Women’s and Gender Studies from 2000 to 2003. She is married to Professor Raz Yirmiya, also of Hebrew University’s psychology department. They have four children.

Israel's new Chief Scientist Nurit Yirmiya.Credit: Yoav Dudkevitch

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