Science Stories | Student Stories
A life-changing research opportunity at Weizmann’s International Summer Science Institute

After a month of immersion in science - learning from scientists, collaborating on experiments and working in labs on the Weizmann Institute campus, participants of the International Summer Science Institute reflect on an unforgettable experience.

Imagine working on leading science research in state-of-the-art laboratories and learning from the brightest scientific minds! This is the amazing opportunity that participants of the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI) get to experience each year. 

Since 1969, a group of around 80 students from all over the world have taken part in the month-long prestigious ISSI program, where they spend three weeks devoted to scientific research in their assigned lab. They then spend a week in the Judean desert and the Negev with expert guides who teach them about the wildlife, ecology, archeology and history of the surrounding area.

Left to right: Amy Steiner, Shane Weinberger and Eliana Elsenberg proudly representing Canada on the first day of the ISSI.

Meet this year’s Canadian ISSI participants 

Shane Weinberger (Montreal) – Shane worked in the lab of Prof. Liran Shlush in the Molecular Biology Department where they investigated the impact of male loss of the Y chromosome on specific cell types in the bloodstream.  

Eliana Elsenberg (Montreal) – Eliana was placed in the Weizmann Tree Lab working under the guidance of PhD students, Hagar Fox and Sophie Obersteiner, where they delved into the captivating world of molecular interactions of our natural world. 

Amy Steiner (Hampstead, QC) – Amy joined the lab of Prof. Deborah Fass in the Department of Chemical and Structural Biology where she worked under the mentorship of Nemanja Stanojevic, a PhD candidate, on a project that explored the function of the ZG16 protein in QSOX1 KO versus WT mice. 

What impact has the ISSI program had on your own science journey? 

“The opportunity to collaborate with such exceptional minds from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds not only enriched my understanding of scientific research but also provided me with newfound perspectives and interests, particularly in science. Working with Dr. Ilani and the other students was an inspiring experience that fueled my passion for knowledge and discovery.” – Shane Weinberger 

“By unraveling her work and collaborating with passionate researchers like Sophie Obersteiner, I realized the tremendous effort, research, and resources dedicated to finding actual solutions. This experience has undoubtedly been a turning point, igniting an enduring passion, and perhaps one day, I might even join the Weizmann tree lab.” – Eliana Elsenberg  

Eliana Elsenberg (centre) working in Weizmann’s Tree Lab, collaborating with PhD student, Sophie Obersteiner (right) and a fellow ISSI participant (left).

“Having only worked in high school and CEGEP labs before, it was a very new experience to be working in a professional setting. The quality of the materials and the advanced nature of the subject matter were definitely adjustments, but the strangest thing to process was the fact that we did not yet have the answers to our questions. Typically, in educational settings, although we as students don’t know the answer, there is an answer key, and we are simply working to understand it. In the lab this summer, we were searching for answers that did not yet exist. It was very exciting and very new.” – Amy Steiner 

Beyond the lab, what impacted you most? 

Beyond the scientific realm, this experience has cultivated meaningful connections and lifelong friendships. The collaborative spirit that thrived among our research group transcended geographical boundaries and instilled in us the importance of fostering international partnerships in scientific endeavours.” – Shane Weinberger 

Meeting like-minded individuals from around the world was a unique and unforgettable experience. As we eagerly discussed lectures and immersed ourselves in our projects, it became evident that this group of people was truly special. Our interactions ranged from deep theological discussions during hikes in the Negev to joyful moments playing board games after long days in the lab, overcoming language barriers with understanding and camaraderie.” – Eliana Elsenberg 

“Living on a campus was a very exciting experience. Right within the view of our youth village was a particle accelerator and, in nearly every building, fascinating scientific research was being performed. Living and breathing academia and science for a month, without the pressure and expectations of grades, was a wonderful experience that made me excited, and hopeful to have more chances to do programs like this in the future.” – Amy Steiner 

The full ISSI Class of 2023 after a hike to Masada

Want to become an ISSI participant? 

The Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute program is available to science-oriented students (aged at least 18 years old prior to the program’s July start date) who have just finished high school or are in their first year of university.  

The program for the summer of 2024 will take place from July 2-25. 

Learn more here or download an application ahead of the application deadline on March 1, 2024. 


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