Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Malta Conference brings Arabs and Israelis together on environmental issues

CHICAGO (Sept. 18, 2007) – Scientists from Israel and 13 other Middle Eastern countries will search for solutions to common environmental issues – particularly air and water quality – that defy geopolitical barriers when they join together in December for the third in a series of precedent-setting conferences.

The five-day conference will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on a date embargoed for security reasons. Titled “Frontiers of Chemical Sciences III: Research and Education in the Middle East – A Bridge to Peace,” it is expected to attract over 76 chemical scientists along with seven Nobel laureates. In a series of workshops intended to foster collaborative solutions, participants will work together to address such global environmental issues as greenhouse gases, global climate changes and water and air quality.

Nations represented include: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

“Despite our nations’ political differences, we are bound by our allegiance to science as holding the answers to many problems that transcend borders,” says Zafra M. Lerman, head of the Institute for Science Education and Science Communication at Columbia College Chicago, who conceived and organizes the conference. “The conference continues to grow in stature as a model of what the scientific community can achieve when we work together.”

The first two conferences were held in Malta in 2003 and 2005. Initiatives springing from recommendations made at them include:

• A collaborative research project on water quality led by Palestinian scientists from the University of Bethlehem, and Israeli scientists from Bar Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

• Exchanges between visiting Israeli and Palestinian professors through the Weizmann Institute of Science and Palestinian institutions, as well as new admissions of Palestinian students at Weizmann.

• A $134,000 grant presented by the National Science Foundation to Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman for three U.S.–Middle Eastern workshops for scientists under the age of 35.

• Malta III is sponsored by: UNESCO, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry - London, the German Chemical Society, and Columbia College Chicago.

For media inquiries, contact David Donze at Hodge Schindler Integrated Communications: ddonze@hodgeschindler.com or 312.666.6662. Other inquiries should be directed to Jeffrey Wade at Columbia College Chicago: jwade@colum.edu or 312.344.7544

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