Yael Hanein

Yael Hanein - 2017 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Head of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Tel Aviv University, Israel

Yael Hanein

Country of Birth: Israel
Country of Residence: Israel
Educational Background: BSc in Physics, Tel Aviv University; MSc, PhD in Physics, The Weizmann Institute


I was always fascinated by the fact that you can mathematically describe physical phenomena. That there is order and predictability was really exciting to me from a young age. This link between mathematics and physics, that you can understand so many things from few fundamental principles, is just fantastic. Even disorder is predicted at some statistical level.

As a professor at Tel Aviv University, I guide and mentor a group of highly talented researchers and students. We are developing new technologies and know-how in the field of neuro-engineering. We try to read the human brain using engineered methods such as special electronic devices. We work with people from many different fields such as neurology, psychology, and marketing to apply these technologies to better monitor how people react or feel towards different triggers.

The challenge of scientific research is finding new questions to answer and knowing the significance of those answers. Others' reactions to your choices can be difficult to predict. It takes patience to identify the right questions and to wait until people are appreciative.

Overall I was well prepared and fortunate enough to receive good advice from experienced mentors. But there are many small steps and decisions along my journey, which I was not well prepared for. I can only assume that you cannot be fully prepared for everything in life and some things have to be learned from mistakes.

My advice is pretty simple: follow your passion. If you enjoy STEM, if you are good in it, just learn and get better until you find the specific field that will allow you to have rich and fulfilling life.

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