As part of the first cooperative venture of its kind between the University of Haifa and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, a festive cornerstone laying ceremony was held launching the construction of the deep sea research labs for the Harry and Leona Helmsley Mediterranean Sea Research Center at the University of Haifa. “This is a historic partnership that will substantially advance sea research in Israel. We are proud of this cooperation, which further establishes the University of Haifa as the leading Israeli research university for sea,” said University's President Amos Shapira.
The University of Haifa and the IOLR are cooperating in the framework of the Mediterranean Sea Research Center of Israel (MERCI), which was established in 2012 and led by the University of Haifa; it is a consortium of all of Israel’s research universities, two government research institutes and an academic college. As part of this new cooperative venture, University laboratories are to be built on IOLR grounds, with the objective of creating synergy between the researchers and research equipment at IOLR and the researchers and research equipment that the University will install in the new deep sea research labs, which are being funded by the The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and other sources.
Through this partnership the University will be setting up a lab for unmanned underwater vehicles; an engineering and research pool, an optics laboratory, which will develop and test underwater vision systems; an acoustics lab that will deal with sonar systems, among others; an underwater propulsion laboratory, which will develop underwater propulsion devices and systems; a marine diving workshop and more. These will be the first labs of their type in Israel and to operate them the University and the institute will acquire underwater robots, unmanned submarines, advanced underwater sensing devices and other systems.
Prof. Zvi Ben Avraham, who is behind this initiative and who serves as the head of MERCI and as director of the Leon Charney School of Marine Sciences, noted that the combination of a research university and oceanographic institute is the world’s leading model for marine research, and he welcomed the turning of a vision into reality.
“We will make the research infrastructure we are building today available to the entire scientific community in Israel and neighboring countries,” he said.
Prof. Barak Herut, the CEO of IOLR, said, “Marine research in general and the global trend of developing operative oceanography as a central platform for advancing marine research and deep sea exploration must be based, inter alia, on the pooling of resources and infrastructure cooperation between academia and government research institutes. This mission is of even more importance today, given the changes in the water and energy economies, development pressures along the shorelines and the increase in the scope of activities and development plans in Israel’s exclusive economic zone of the Mediterranean Sea.”