Iftach Yacoby, PhD - Head of Laboratory


Iftach was born on a farm in Israel, growing Mangos and Avocados. He completed his B.Sc., M.Sc. in Biology and Biotechnology in 2001 and 2003. He received his PhD in Microbiology and Biotechnology from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in 2007.  As a doctoral student with Itai Benhar he developed a means of immune-targeting photogenic bactria and cancer using filamentous phages.  As a postdoctoral fellow with Shuguang Zhang (2008-2011) at MIT he worked on the development of fusion proteins of hydrogenase.  Back at TAU, Iftach is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences, School of Plant Sciences, and Food Security. He teaches undergraduate students the beauty of photosynthesis and metabolic diversity in microbes. In the lab, Iftach enjoys fixing broken equipment that the students constantly provide and helping a bit with every project.

Nina Kamennaya, PhD


Nina was born in Siberia and migrated for an eternal summer to Israel in 1994. After obtaining BSc in biology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2003, she continued to PhD in marine microbiology and ecology with Anton Post. Diligently going to Eilat for monthly sampling cruises, she studied the ecological significance of cyanate utilization by marine cyanobacteria. During her first postdoctoral training in Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California (2010-2013), she took a different angle at microbes and instead of just studying them Nina tried making use of them by engineering cyanobacteria to produce biofuels and to sequester carbon. Then, equipped with proficiency in molecular biology and hands-on experience with multitude of analytical and imaging techniques, she returned to sea during her second postodoc in England (2013-2017) with Mike Zubkov and Dave Scanlan. Shearing time between University of Warwick, the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and the Ocean, she focused on interactions between marine bacteria, their predators and viruses. When the time was to return to Israel, she contacted Iftah, asking him to host her as a Shamir Research Fellow in his lab. The current project promises to provide defense from pests to cultures of microalgae cultivated in open systems.

Oren Ben-Zvi, PhD Candidate


Oren completed his B.Sc. in Marine Science at Michmoret Maritime College. As an undergraduate Oren studied suspension feeders interaction with the SAR11 marine bacteria. Joining the energy lab at 2013, Oren engineered a novel Hydrogenase-SuperOxide Dismutase fusion protein, capable of catalyzing hydrogen gas at high rates. Oren's Ph.D. thesis interests at employing fusion technology to tackle one of the most greatest challenges of photosynthetic hydrogen production ,Hydrogenase high sensitivity to molecular oxygen. His work in the energy lab is supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF). Oren is first author on our study describing The In-vitro enhancement of FeFe Hydrogenase activity By Superoxide Dismutase in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Yuval Milrad, PhD Candidate


One day, while backpacking in Asia, Yuval looked at the trees and realized that photosynthesis is the most amazing process in the natural world. Ever since he is obligated to harness that process to provide a cleaner and cheaper energy. He studied B.Sc. in Bio-Chemistry at Tel-Aviv University, during which he interned at Jülich Forschungszentrum, where he learned about biomass phenotyping analysis. Later he joined the Yacoby lab as a project student under the supervision of Dr. Oded Liran, where he specialized in the fundamental studies of photosynthesis. After he completed his B.Sc. studies he continued as a M.Sc. candidate and soon after started his Ph.D. Yuval is still researching the photosynthetic apparatus. His is interested to find out which metabolic pathways are stealing the electrons from hydrogenase and perhaps thus shift the energy flow toward better hydrogen production.

Noam Shahar, PhD Candidate


Noam received his B.Sc. from Tel-Aviv University in 2016. As an undergraduate student, he studied hetero-resistance mechanisms in the human pathogenic fungi Candida glabrata. In 2017, he was accepted to the facultative direct-PhD program and decided to join the energy-lab. Noam’s research focuses on understanding transcription regulations of plastids in microalgae with an emphasis on co-transcription of polycistronic RNA molecules. One of his goals is to improve the knowledge of heterologous expression of synthetic operons in chloroplasts in order to obtain an efficient and stable transformation of multiple genes.

Tamar Elman, PhD Candidate


Tamar completed her B.Sc in life science at TAU and proceeded to M.Sc in the Cell Research & Biotechnology school, where she explored the field of cell cycle regulation. After discovering the wonders of basic biology mechanisms, she decided to combine her two passions, molecular biology, and the environment. 

Tamar joined the Yacoby group as a Ph.D. candidate, and currently, she is working on targeted protein expression that could serve as a biotechnological application for anoxic niches, ideal for the activity of oxygen-sensitive enzymes. Alongside, she is trying to introduce CRISPR-CAS9, a powerful and essential DNA editing tool, to our algal model for further research and development in the lab.

Yael Feldman, MSc Candidate


Yael obtained her B.Sc. in Biology from Tel Aviv University. As an undergraduate, Yael worked in the Yacoby lab as a lab technician and performed experiments concerning enhancing expression in the nucleus of micro-algea. For her M.Sc. studies, Yael will focus on enhancing hydrogen production and expression through the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and other micro-algea.

​Eyal Dafni, MSc Candidate


Eyal obtained a B.Sc. in Biology from Tel Aviv University. During his undergraduate studies he worked on developing an image processing program to analyze fluorescence around algae colonies as a screen for hydrogen production. For his M.Sc. studies, Eyal will continue the work on the image processing program, which will then be used to research the effects of introns on the expression of the ferredoxin-hydrogenase fusion protein in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

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Shira Landman

Shira is a junior Biology Major who joined the Yacoby lab in the summer of 2016 as a project student and preformed experiments concerning enhancing expression of hydrogen producing novel proteins in micro-algae, she then continued to work in the lab through 2017.

Shira is primarily working on the nucleus expression of human proteins in micro-algae. She intends to continue to her Master's and PhD degree and hopes she can help find sustainable renewable energy before humankind becomes extinct.

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Visiting Students

Elisa Boemeke - Technical University of Munich, TUM - Germany

Meital Avitan - University of California, Berkeley - United States

Malenie Abrahams - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT - United States

Ashlin Rose Michell - New York University, NYU - United States

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Shira Schweitzer, M.Sc

Dr. Haviva Eilenberg - Lab Manger

Dr. Marina Kozuleva PostDoc

Iddo Weiner, PhD Candidate

Pini Marco, PhD Candidate

Rinat Semyatich, PhD Candidate

Oded Liran, Post Doc

Mariana Shifrin, MSc

Dan Alon, MSc

Tal Kadosh, MSc

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© 2017 by Barel Weiner