Prof. Shimon Gepstein was born and raised in Petach Tikva, Israel. He served as a professor in the Faculty of Biology at the Technion, and later as Dean of the faculty, and as director of the Pre-academic Center of the Technion, from 2006 to 2012.
Prof. Gepstein took his three degrees at the University of Tel Aviv and his post-doctorate studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has also served as visiting professor at the following universities: Stanford, Waterloo (Canada), Bern (Switzerland), John Hopkins, University of California (Davis) and University of Sydney (Australia).
In his capacity as director of the Pre-academic Center, Prof. Gepstein headed the pre-academic mechina (preparatory program) division as well as the science-oriented youth division. The science-oriented youth division is designed to make academia more accessible to residents of Israel’s periphery, with the emphasis on socioeconomically disadvantaged sectors. A large number of programs were operated as part of the development of the science-oriented youth division, which were designed to promote excellence. These included programs such as Atidim, High-Tech Horizons, etc. The pre-academic mechina division is responsible for training school students who do not meet the Technion acceptance threshold requirements, to enable them to achieve a future for themselves in engineering fields. The Pre-academic Center aims to expose a wide range of unique populations to sciences and technology, and operated a number of programs in this area: the Na’am program (for Arab populations), the Halamish program (for ultra-orthodox sectors), the Technion Buds (for Druze groups), as well as an advancement science program for high schools, under the auspices of President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres.
In addition to his research and teaching activities, Prof. Gepstein filled a range of other positions at the Technion. Between 1994 and 1997 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Biology; from 2002 to 2003 he was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Biology, responsible for teaching, and served as chairman of the faculty’s Teaching Committee, as well as being a member of the committee for graduate studies of the faculty and of the Inter-Unit Biotechnology Committee.
Prof. Gepstein served as a member of the permanent committee (Senate) for undergraduate and graduate studies, of (academic) mechina committees of the Faculty of Biology, science and technology teaching, and humanistic studies, and of the Technion’s External Studies Faculty. He served on the Committee for Teaching Improvement at the Technion, was chairman of the staff and student Cross-Technion Committee, as well as Chairman of the Disciplinary Tribunal (for appeals) for students at the Technion.
Prof. Gepstein served on the Rosen Committee for Teaching Improvement at the Technion, on behalf of the Samuel Neaman Institute, and was also a member of central committees connected to research and development, and the Technion Senate’s development committee. He was a member of the Grand Water Research Institute of the Technion, and the Grand Technion Energy institute (GTE), and was a researcher at the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence (ICORE) in the area of alternative energy (a consortium of the Technion, Weizmann Institute and Ben Gurion University).
Over the years, Prof. Gepstein has won a number of excellence awards, for teaching and research, including: the Hershel Rich Award for innovation and development of applied research (1997), Outstanding Lecturer Poll Teaching awards at the Technion (continually since 1983), the Diligent Outstanding Lecturer Award of the Technion (received this award for 10 consecutive years), the Jacano Award for Excellence in Teaching of the Technion (2002), the Mani Award for Teaching Excellence at the Technion (1993, 2005), and he recently received the prestigious Yanai Award for his special contribution to academic teaching (2011).
Prof. Gepstein engaged in developing an innovative study approach and method for mass courses. This method was adopted by the Technion management (in 2010) as a recommended model for all basic courses at the institution. Following this development, several articles were published in international publications on academic teaching and at national and international conferences, about the development of innovative methods for teaching biology in academia.
Prof. Gepstein’s research papers address the understanding of ageing processes of plants. This research is applied in agricultural biotechnology. Prominent developments generated by this research relate to the development of technologies that are based on genetic engineering for delaying ageing in plants, extending the shelf life of vegetables and fruit, as well as water-efficient plants which can grow in arid regions.
Prof. Gepstein’s non-academic activities include, serving as: president of the Israeli Society of Plant Sciences (1994-95), chairman of the National Biotechnology Steering Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Chief Scientist, member of the Academic Committee and Management Committee of the National Museum of Science, Madatech, member of the Steering and Professional Advisory Committee of the Science Park in Beersheba, and development of the genetics exhibition, member of the jury committees of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Bird Foundation, and the Kemach Foundation for Agricultural Research of the Ministry of Science, chairman of the Gordon Conference on Plant Senescence (2012), and was selected to act in the same capacity for the next conference. In the field of academic literature, Prof. Gepstein is a member of the editorial boards of several scientific publications (such as Israel Journal of Plant Sciences) and serves as a member of scientific panels of national and international publications, such as: Planta, Physiologia Plantarum, Plant and Cell Physiology, PNAS, Plant Cell, and Plant Physiology.
Prof. Gepstein has published more than 60 articles in international science publications, and he is serving as tutor for over 50 graduate students (master’s degrees and doctoral degrees).