Director message

Prof. Noam Weisbrod
December 16, 2021
Director message

I would like to first thank you for reading this special issue. Inside, you will get a glimpse of several, out of many, scientific endeavors currently underway at The
Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, part of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Israel.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, had a powerful vision of "making the desert bloom." Since 1974, the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
(BIDR) have been scientific leaders in making this vision a reality. Indeed, the BIDR has been researching the water-food-energy nexus for nearly 50 years,
long before the current climate crisis became front-page news. Today, deserts and other drylands constitute more than 40% of the global land area.


Global environmental changes, such as global warming and further desertification of drylands, threaten 1.3 billion people in more than 100 countries. In this
increasingly dire context, the BIDR has distinguished itself as an international leader in research related to the desert and the technologies required for the
sustainable development of drylands. BIDR researchers have been developing theories and strategies that address the most pressing concerns of the modern
world: providing food, water, energy, and a deep understanding of ecosystem dynamics in increasingly resource-scarce areas.

With a well-integrated professional composition of 70 scientists, 60 technical and administrative staff members, and over 300 Israeli and international
graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, the BIDR is a locus of cutting-edge basic and applied research related to the future sustainability of our
globe in times of enhanced natural and artificial changes. The BIDR’s fields of study comprise desertification; hydrology, water scarcity, desalination, and
reuse; renewable energy and environmental physics; ecology and ecosystem dynamics; and dryland biotechnology and agriculture.

Our diverse multidisciplinary research and graduate-level teaching activities are carried out in the laboratories, classes, and other facilities on Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev’s Sede Boqer Campus and in research stations and field research sites scattered across Israel’s Negev Desert.
In addition to the traditional structure of departmental research groups, the BIDR also operates the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies (AKIS).

AKIS offers a wide variety of M.Sc./M.A. and Ph.D. degree programs, with all training and teaching conducted in English. The students at AKIS hail
from approximately 30 different countries from around the world.  

The BIDR continues to be a site of dynamic growth. Recently, The Moshe Mirilashvili Center for Food Security in the Desert was established within the
BIDR through a generous donation made by Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, President and CEO of Watergen and Vertical Field. BIDR scientists continue to collaborate
with researchers from universities, research institutes, and private companies across the globe to tackle together the most pressing problems facing the
future of humanity. We look forward to undertaking innovative and important
projects with new partners.

The rapid expansion of drylands, water scarcity, food security problems, and energy crises are wreaking havoc around the globe. Our goal at the BIDR is that
the knowledge gained here will be shared worldwide, in the hopes of ensuring a better and sustainable future for all.


This article is part of the digital issue - Agriculture in Arid Zones