Asia-Pacific Biotech News

Life of an Educator: Dr Liat Ben-David

Staying curious and learning about the world around us with Dr Liat Ben-David.

I became a science educator because…

Curiosity combined with a sense of mission. Since I can remember, I have been a curious observer of the living world and, more so, of our place in it. How is everything I see connected to me as a human being? What relates to me because I am a specific human being? And what do I, as that specific human being, want from my life? Always intrigued by the striking, simultaneous similarities and differences between humans and other organisms, I chose to study life sciences, not stopping till I received my PhD at Israel’s internationally acclaimed Weizmann Institute of Science.

Then, I combined my two passions:

  1. My view of science and technology as great achievements of mankind, the best schools of thought and action that we developed to understand and function in the world, and
  2. My adoration of working with people. I love teaching and watching the sparkle in the eyes of my students as they develop their view of Science, understanding that it is the best tool they have to live better lives in a better society.

So I became a science educator.

For the past 32 years, I have been dealing with all aspects of what is known as STEM education. As a biologist, I’ve made a point of travelling the world as much as possible to reveal its treasures, and as a STEM educator, I’m constantly searching for and developing exciting and engaging ways to discover the world with my students and colleagues. I love working with young, creative, and curious minds; I adore developing new ideas; and I’m an excellent, innovative educator.

It’s a true delight!


A typical day at work involves…

There is no “typical day”. I believe that “CEO” stands for Chief ENABLING Officer; my job is to create and sustain an exciting and inviting organisational ecosystem that allows us all to form and try new ideas. We continuously and collaboratively develop our professionalism as excellent science educators, inventing and re-inventing innovative programmes—content and methodologies—that place our students in the centre and allow them to try, create, fail, succeed, and learn. Every day I mentor, invent, teach, learn, fail, and succeed. Every day is a new adventure.


Besides my regular duties, I am also involved in…

Consulting others (organisations and professionals, international, national, and private levels); Constantly teaching, learning, and writing.


The biggest challenge in my job is…

Disseminating the paradigm of science as a human activity and therefore human-centred science education and allowing people to feel confident enough to try, fail, and try again while developing excellence as a value, not just a test-achievement.


My latest book, The Story of Our Lives, talks about…

My journey towards an understanding of Homo sapiens as one of the organisms of this planet while recognising and emphasising the aspects that make us a unique organism.

APBN with Dr Liat Ben-David

Throughout history, our growing abilities to harness the major forces of the world and change our quality of life and its longevity have led to an unwavering paradigm that we enjoy clinging to: the paradigm that views humans as a complete and separate entity from other organisms, or at least as an organism that is extremely “better” than the rest. Don’t forget—we go as far as calling ourselves “Homo sapiens”, the wise hominid.

But are we really “a preeminent species”? What is it that makes us so similar yet so different from other organisms?

The book suggests and discusses a paradigm I developed about who we are based on five human traits that have evolutionary co-developed and co-amplified in us: imagination, creative making, complex abstract communication, change, and inter-generational transfer. These have become the launchpads of three major human activities: technology, education, and science, all of which play a central role in the development of human societies, cultures, and histories.

Since I am blessed with my partner of more than 40 years, who also loves travelling, exploring, and photographing what we see, the book weaves personal and professional experiences, accompanied by some magnificent photos of ours that exemplify the arguments I am making.


In my free time, I enjoy…

My family, music, writing and reading; Travelling the world to learn its wonders.


A book I will recommend everyone to read is…

Truthfully, I find it extremely difficult to recommend just one book. I am an avid reader of all genres and am always looking for a good book. So the best recommendation I can give is to read. As much as you can. Go to the library, pick a book, and read. It can be a smart, mind-provoking book for children such as Alice in Wonderland, a philosophical book such as Moby Dick, a wonderful romance such as The Notebook, or a brilliant historic novel such as The Book Thief. To my delight, the list goes on and on. Thanks to books, I am never bored, always enjoying an adventure, and always learning.

That’s the essence of my recommendation: READ.


I enjoy my job because…

It’s about constant creation, innovation, and human engagement.

I touch lives and play a meaningful part in helping them discover, grow, and develop. Another reason may seem somewhat surprising: a streak that I believe all educators worthy of their profession must have is the desire to be on stage. To some extent, we are all frustrated actors who enjoy having the attention of a captive audience. Think of it this way: in the traditional education system, you walk into a room full of people, close the door, and they have no choice but to follow your lead for at least 45 minutes. Delightful. [APBN]

About the Interviewee

Dr. Liat Ben-David, CEO, Davidson Institute of Science Education, Weizmann Institute of Science

Since earning her PhD in science at the Weizmann Institute in 1991, Ben-David has become a leading formulator and teacher of science education in a variety of educational organizations. In 2011 She became CEO of the Wolf Foundation, awarding the Wolf Prize to excellent scientists and artists worldwide, second only to the Nobel Prize.

She joined the Davidson Institute as CEO in 2017. Ben-David is an international lecturer and accomplished author, with more than 20 books and 2 TEDx talks. Her latest book, The Story of Our Lives – Homo Sapiens Secrets of Success was published by WSP in 2022.