Every summer since 1969, the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Science Institute (ISSI), more fondly known as “the Bessie program,” brings together approximately 80 highly talented pre-university students (high-school graduates) from all over the world to experience the challenges and rewards of scientific research and to learn more about the Weizmann Institute of Science and life in Israel.
During the month-long program, the students spend the first three weeks conducting research in the campus labs. The work combines the exploration of problems in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematical and computer science, and instruction in the use of sophisticated lab equipment such as electron microscopes, advanced computers, a high-energy particle accelerator, and lasers.
But it’s not all work – there are lectures by senior Weizmann Institute scientists, departmental talks, and visits to some of the state-of-the-art facilities on campus. And after three weeks on campus, the group moves to an altogether different scientific focus: a field school in the Judean Desert and the Negev. Expert guides from the Sde-Boker field school lead hikes that acquaint the students with the unique ecological, geographical, geological, zoological, and archaeological characteristics of the area – some of which are one-of-a-kind in the world.