The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research

Sede Boqer Campus

Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director

The Institute for Desert Research was established in Sede Boqer in 1974 as a result of a recommendation made by the council for higher education in 1972, followed by a decision of the Israeli government in 1973. In 1974 the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) has nominated Prof. Amos Richmond, to be the founder and the first director of the institute. In 1980, The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation made a generous contribution to BGU, and the institute was named The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research (BIDR).


65 scientists, 60 technical and administrative staff members, and over 100 Israeli and foreign research students, constitute a balanced blend for carrying out basic and applied research related to “Desert Sciences”. 

Activities cover basic research in:

·        Environmental physics with applications in desert meteorology and solar energy.

·        Water sciences and technology with applications in water resource management, wastewater treatment and bioremediation.

·        Ecology with applications in conservation biology and environmental protection.

·        Plant and animal physiology with applications in desert agriculture, livestock, and aquaculture.

·        Cellular and molecular biology with applications in desert biotechnologies and biodegradation of environmental pollutions.

·        Social sciences and architecture with applications in desert regional planning and human habitats.


These diverse research and advanced teaching activities are carried out in the laboratories, classes and other facilities on the Sede Boqer Campus, as well as in research stations and field research sites scattered over the Negev Desert.


Deserts and other drylands constitute more than 40% of the global land area. Global environmental changes such as global warming and further desertification of drylands threaten 1,300 million people in more then 100 countries. The goal of the BIDR is to carry out research on the desert environment required for promoting sustainable uses of the Negev Desert and other drylands the world over.


Beside the traditional structure of research groups operating in the framework of departments, the institute operates the “Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies”.  The school is responsible for all training and teaching activities at the Institute, and offers an M.Sc. program in “Desert Studies”.  For more details see the school website:


The scientific collaboration activities of the institute are dealt within the framework of the Blaustein Center for Scientific Cooperation (BCSC).  The center promotes exchange programs, postdoctoral training workshops and joint research programs with other academic institutions all over the world.  The center is also responsible for the operation of the Access for Research Infrastructure (ARI), activity supported by the European Commission.  For more information see the BCSC website


We hope that regional and global geopolitical changes, among them the Middle East peace process, will further demonstrate the national, regional and global responsibilities of the BIDR as the mission oriented desert research institute of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  We would like to extend our invitation to colloquies from Israel, the region and the world to join us in fulfilling this mission.