It took just a few words from a close friend and, instead of joining a research expedition to Antarctica – something he had planned while an undergraduate student of physics and meteorology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Dr. Moshe Rishpon found himself in a new lab entering the pioneering field of nuclear physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Rishpon was one of the first to research the Mössbauer effect – a revolutionary physical phenomenon discovered by Rudolf L. Mössbauer, who received a Nobel Prize in 1961, the year that Rishpon commenced his M.Sc. studies.
While studying, Rishpon became involved in establishing extracurricular science education at the Institute – inspired by the Institute’s late Prof. Amos de-Shalit.
Forty-seven years later, Rishpon is still exploiting the Institute’s “treasures” to further science education: “It’s amazing to see how the Youth Activities Section (now Young@Science) has grown over the years – from a few army tents that we borrowed in 1964, to today’s International Village. At present, over 30,000 students meet with several hundred scientists every year for popular science lectures, mathematics olympiads, summer workshops and more.” This initiative has even inspired Israel’s universities to incorporate similar activities, though on a smaller scale.
“I am grateful to the Feinberg Graduate School for being so understanding, giving me extra time for my Ph.D. to allow me time to devote to this cause.”
In 1993, Rishpon was awarded the President of Israel’s Prize for his work with science-oriented youth; and, in 1998, he established and became director of the award-winning Clore Garden of Science – the Institute’s outdoor science museum. He also founded, two years later, the popular annual science festival at the Weizmann Institute.