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 Los Angeles

December 2016

an incredible 2016 for technion L.a.

Ariel Levine
Danielle Movsowitz
Valley evenat with Ester Segal.jpg
(l to r) Paul Brandano, Susan Bazarsky, Technion Profesor Ester Segal, Michelle Baron and Philip Baron.
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(l to r) Edie Fischer, Regina Shrekenhamer, Michael Steuer, Edmond Rambod, Marilyn Strumwasser, and Janey Sweet with ATS staff members Susan Bazarsky and Diana Stein Judovits. 

Our year got off to an exciting start with a visit in February from two extraordinary Technion students: Ariel Levine and Danielle Movsowitz. Capturing the audience with their enthusiasm, they spoke of their lives on campus and their brilliant research.  

Ari, who holds a Technion B.Sc. and M.Sc. and is now going for his doctorate in chemistry, is focused on the ability of DNA to carry electrical charges over long distances. Recently, he discovered a new electrical mechanism called “quantum unfurling.” After finishing his studies, Ari (who also holds a medical degree) plans to do a surgical residency program at the Technion affiliated Rambam Hospital.

Danielle served in the Israeli Intelligence Corps, and is now transferring those skills to her academic studies doing undergraduate research on privacy in cloud computing. When not at her computer, Danielle serves as the spokesperson for the Technion Student Association.

In September, we were thrilled to host Assistant Professor Itamar Kahn of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. Prof. Kahn investigates brain function and behavior in health and disease, specializing on failures of communication between brain systems. His work has applications for understanding and treating brain disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders in children. During his two-day stay, Prof. Kahn met with ATS friends and supporters at a “Lunch & Learn” Program at the ATS office, a breakfast event in the Valley, and a luncheon at a private home in Beverly Hills.

We were also thrilled to host Associate Professor Ester Segal, who is doing groundbreaking work in cancer research at the new Technion Integrative Cancer Center, and Edmond Rambod, a Technion graduate, accomplished inventor and CEO of the of the medtech company Quantason LLC. Mr. Rambod is conducting important work on early breast cancer detection.

Events Shine Light on California Water Problems

Seth Siegel

California has suffered from drought conditions for four consecutive years, and water shortages proliferate around the world. Local events held throughout 2016 examined how Israel is helping address these issues.

Israel supporter and author Seth Siegel spoke at an ATS event held at the Museum of Tolerance about his most recent book: Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World (published September 2015). Recounting the individual stories behind Israel’s water desalination and drip irrigation discoveries, Mr. Siegel revealed the central role played by professors and graduates of the Technion.

Later in the year, Professor Raphael Semiat, the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Chair in Science, Engineering and Management of Water Resources, spoke about water innovation, conservation and management at a dinner program in September. He was joined on the podium by Professor Yoram Cohen, the leading expert in water research at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In a presentation titled: “California and Israel: Addressing the Challenges of Water Sustainability,” Profs. Semiat and Cohen spoke before a packed house of 100 friends and supporters at the Four Seasons Hotel. Prof. Semiat founded MemTech, a game-changing ultrafiltration membrane aimed at industrial and commercial water treatment. Prof. Cohen invented a mobile water treatment system designed to cut the costs of removing salt from brackish groundwater and agricultural runoff. The two professors have worked closely for years.

Local Leaders Honored  

(l to r) Technion President Peretz Lavie with Bob Hanisee
(l to r) Technion President Peretz Lavie with Rita Emerson

Summer kicked off in a celebratory manner, when Bob Hanisee and Rita Emerson were awarded Technion Honorary Fellowships during the Board of Governors (BOG) in June. Bob was recognized for his “great enthusiasm... wise leadership and valued expertise.” Rita was honored for her “inspired and wise leadership ... and outstanding generosity, passion and commitment toward the Technion and Israel.”

A self-employed health educator, Rita is passionate about Israel and the Technion. She and her husband, Steve, were in the first class of the Southern California Ambassadors Leadership Program, and are graduates of the national leadership program. Those skills served her well, as Rita is a member of both the local and national boards and co-chaired a Mission to Israel.

Rita is on the National Board of Regents, and she and Steve are Technion Guardians, an honor reserved for those who support the university at the highest level. They provided the naming gift for the Emerson Family Life Sciences Building and have supported the Emerson Family Fitness Center, the David and Janet Polak Center for Cancer Research and Vascular Biology, graduate fellowships and more.

Bob joined the local board in 2004, and is now the local president. He is also Chair of the ATS Investment Committee, and a member of the Technion BOG. (For more on his life and service, see the profile below).


Trip of a Lifetime

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Bob Hanisee and fellow chapter member Mark Dorner, who also serves on the ATS national board, are planning a unique travel experience to Israel and the Technion for potential non-Jewish supporters. The aim is to provide a small group of approximately 20 people with a firsthand look at Israel and the key role that the Technion and its graduates have played in the nation’s economy and security.

Of interest to Jews, non-Jews and techies alike, the weeklong journey—dubbed The Bob Hanisee/Mark Dorner Trip to Israel (February 2-10, 2017)—will tour Christian holy sites in Jerusalem as well as Jewish landmarks including the Western Wall and Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Participants will also travel to Nazareth not only for its significance in Christianity, but also to tour Alpha Omega Engineering, a neuroscience tech company founded by two Arab Israeli Technion graduates. Other high-tech highlights include a visit to Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an irrigation company and a desalination plant.

But the trip’s biggest highlight will undoubtedly be the two-day visit to the Technion campus in Haifa. The group will meet with President Professor Peretz Lavie, break bread with the students and faculty, and visit laboratories that are developing solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Participants will also meet with professors at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.

For more information please contact Robert Rothschild,, or by phone, 310-254-9899.


Meet Bob Hanisee: Our Local President

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Bob Hanisee

Contributed by: Judy Jonas, Los Angeles Board Secretary and Executive Committee Member

“I’m a non-Jewish guy with lots of Jewish friends, and for most of my married life, I’ve had a Jewish wife. Someone involved with the ATS in Los Angeles thought I’d make a good president,” Bob Hanisee, our new president and longtime board member, told me somewhat modestly over a casual lunch a few months ago. Bob’s wife of 30 years, Denise, smiled in agreement, but clearly there was more to the story. How did Bob, “a non-Jewish guy” (though not the ATS’ first non-Jewish leader), happen to join ATS? And, now that he’s president, what are his plans for the area?

Bob has always been passionately pro-Israel, and has thought out his mission thoroughly. One of his chief goals as president is to bring more non-Jewish members into the ATS fold. To do this, he’s launched a non-Jewish Mission to Israel (see Hanisee/Dorner Trip) with a visit to the Technion campus in Haifa. Another one of his goals is to increase bequests and endowments, which ensure funding for future Technion projects. “We have many generous donors. Bequests and endowments create a legacy that will live on for generations to come,” he said.

As Israel continues to face unremitting challenges to its security and existence, Bob is adamant that defense is the Technion’s most important role. “If Israel can’t defend itself the rest doesn’t matter,” he said. Technion scientists and alumni have helped develop many of Israel’s defense systems, including Iron Dome. To continue such crucial research, the Technion relies on ATS funding, as state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment are not financed by the Israeli government. “Top scholars will accept lower salaries if they can work in cutting edge labs,” he said.

Perhaps it was more than just “someone” who thought Bob would make an excellent president. He is well liked and respected by the staff and the board, which he has served for several years. But it was Denise who first led the way to ATS some fifteen years ago. A researcher and Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California, Denise made a bequest in her grandmother’s name to honor the profound role she played in her early life. “My community-minded grandmother recognized the importance of Israel’s existence, and instilled that belief in me,” she said. After her first year of involvement with ATS, Bob told me he had to join her, because he also believed that the Technion was key to Israel’s survival.

Bob was born in New Orleans. Upon graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Army and served for two and a half years in Europe. “Not unlike Technion students that have spent 3 years in the IDF, when I completed my army tour I was ready to buckle down and study,” he said. He did his undergraduate studies at Cal State Northridge, and in 1966 earned an M.A. in Economics at UC Berkeley.

His decades-long career in investment and finance took off in 1968, when he moved to Los Angeles for a position at Merrill Lynch. Bob worked at several investment houses, including Seidler Amdec Securities, where he became involved in financing defense and technology startups. He spent the last 25 years of his career at L.A.-based Trust Company of the West, rotating through a number of assignments. In addition, he served on the boards of major technology and aerospace corporations and was involved with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the Al Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering and NASA.

Bob’s experience in finance makes him a perfect fit for his role as Chair of the ATS national board’s investment committee, where he helps oversee the organization’s endowment. His knowledge of the sciences and military defense is also valued by the Technion, which awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in 2016 for his outstanding leadership.

“Bob Hanisee has a firm grasp of the importance of the Technion to Israel’s security and its impact on the world,” said Chuck Levin, a former Los Angeles office president. “His acumen as a manager is highly respected. We are fortunate to have Bob as our leader.” Immediate past president Sarah Rena Conner added: “I’m thrilled to pass the torch to Bob, and I am honored to serve him as he builds the Los Angeles office's continued upward trajectory.”


The second of three trips will visit New York City, home of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, in 2017. The third leg will visit China in 2018.


See the Technion in NYC in October

Aerial View from Manhattan - Credit Kilograph, Weiss Manfred
Rendering of the Cornell Tech campus, home of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute

Next year, the new Cornell Tech campus, home to the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, will be nearly complete—and our Technion World Tour will include a VIP visit to this cutting-edge university.

Join us in New York City, from October 25-28, 2017, and be one of the first people to visit the new campus on Roosevelt Island. Participants will have the chance to meet with the students, explore the innovative, eco-friendly campus and see entrepreneurial education in action at the corporate co-location hub, The Bridge. The trip also includes Tech Talks with New York City and Technion entrepreneurs, whose “disruptive” technologies are changing the world for the better.

We are delighted to have former Los Angeles office president Sarah Rena Conner serving as a co-chair. “It will be thrilling for all of us to see firsthand the best of Israel come to America. I’m hoping you will join us for this tremendous experience,” she says.

American Technion Society
501 S.Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: 310.254.6989 Fax: 310.277.0286
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