The 2020 Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize for Global Innovation in Smart Mobility and Alternative Fuels for Transportation will be awarded to eight researchers, three of whom are Technion faculty members: Professor Avner Rothschild, Professor Gideon (Gidi) Grader, and Dr. Yaniv Romano.
The $1 million award is the world’s largest in the fields of smart mobility and alternative fuels for transportation. It is awarded annually by the Smart Mobility Administration in the Prime Minister’s Office in Israel, in conjunction with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space and the Keren Hayesod – UIA (United Israel Appeal).
The prize was awarded in two categories in 2020. The prize for groundbreaking research for achievements in smart mobility and alternative fuels was awarded to Prof. Grader of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Prof. Rothschild of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering. The prize for leading international researchers of smart mobility and alternative fuels who have joined higher education institutes in Israel as full-time faculty members was awarded to Dr. Romano.
Prof. Rothschild and Prof. Grader, both members of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program, were awarded their prize for their contribution to the development of innovative technology that revolutionizes the production of green energy, which is expected in the next few years to yield hydrogen at a competitive cost to fossil fuels, with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Green hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel, and its use will lower emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases from different sources – traffic, the production of materials and chemicals, and the generation of heating and electricity. To develop the technology, the scientists founded the startup H2PRO, which has been granted an exclusive license for the technology’s commercialization by T3, the Technion’s technology transfer unit.
“This is a great honor for our researchers and for the Technion,” said Technion President, Professor Uri Sivan. “Energy is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and I am delighted that the Technion is a leader in the field and a key player in the research and development of innovative technologies that are more environmentally friendly, for the benefit of mankind.
“Prof. Gidi Grader and Prof. Rothschild are leading researchers in the field and among the founders of the Grand Technion Energy Program,” he added. “They leverage different fields of knowledge to develop new, renewable alternative energy sources by integrating different research disciplines, and their scientific breakthrough has applications that will affect the future of us all.”
Dr. Yaniv Romano ’11, M.Sc. ’15, Ph.D. ’17, who won the prize for young faculty members, returned to the Technion as a member of the academic staff this year after completing a postdoctoral appointment at Stanford University. He was awarded the prize for his groundbreaking contributions in the fields of data science, machine learning, and signal processing. His prominent contributions include innovative methods for ensuring the reliability of advanced learning systems, an extensive theory that explains key aspects of deep learning, and the development of technologies that have led to a significant change in the ability to restore visual data from poor quality images.
Dr. Romano is a senior lecturer and a member of two Technion faculties – the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science. His research focuses on the development of advanced data analysis methods, which, in practice and in theory, aims at certifying the validity of the conclusions obtained by machine learning algorithms in terms of reproducibility, accuracy, robustness, and fairness.
“Dr. Romano is a young, promising researcher who completed all of his academic degrees at the Technion, and happily, he recently returned to us as a faculty member,” said President Sivan. “He is an expert on data science and machine learning, spheres in which our research is developing continuously and which have significant potential for the advancement of smart mobility.”
“The three prize winners from the Technion represent the growing recognition that interdisciplinary research that runs across faculty, disciplinary, institutional, and national boundaries is an essential condition for breakthroughs in basic science and its technological applications,” added Prof. Sivan. “Avner, Gidi and Yaniv – your achievements are a blessing to us all.”