ARLINGTON, Va. — On April 19, the state of Israel celebrated its 70th
Independence Day. As part of the celebration, the country's highest cultural
honor-the Israel Prize-was awarded to Dr. Shlomo Havlin, a physics professor
at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, for his Office of Naval
Research (ONR) Global-sponsored work in physics.
According to the prize committee, Havlin was selected because he is "a
pioneer of a number of fields in statistical physics...," which uses
probability theory, statistics and math for dealing with large populations
"The Israel Prize represents recognition by the Israeli government and
scientific community that our novel theories and applications of statistical
physics to real-world technological systems, such as critical
infrastructure, have led to a better understanding of the resilience and
functioning of these systems," said Havlin.
Throughout his nearly 50-year career, Havlin's physics work has produced
several notable accomplishments, which have impacted fields of research
ranging from social, technological and economic networks to physiological
systems and DNA function.
Included in that body of work was the discovery of specific patterns in DNA
sequences that led to a better understanding of "junk DNA," which was
previously considered non-functional; the development of the first
mathematical theory for evaluating the stability of complex networks (e.g.,
the internet); and the publishing of a theoretical framework for
understanding and predicting the effects of interactions between networks.
Since 2014, much of Havlin's research into complex networks has been
sponsored through two ONR Global basic research grants.
These grants serve as a mechanism to encourage international science and
technology cooperation in areas of interest to the Naval Research Enterprise
by providing seed funding to research teams of international scientists.
"I believe that the academic partnership with ONR Global is unique,
particularly in terms of the relationship and interaction with ONR Global
program officers," said Havlin. "In contrast to most funding agencies, we
actually meet face-to-face with ONR Global program officers periodically and
discuss possible projects with them in order to identify challenging
research questions which are of interest to both sides."
Havlin's grants were co-sponsored by Dr. Bill Suski, ONR Global science
director, and Dr. Mike Shlesinger, a program officer for ONR's Expeditionary
Maneuver Warfare Department.
"I first met Dr. Havlin at a conference in 1982, and many times since at
international conferences on the topic of fractals," said Shlesinger. "He
has worked closely with U.S. scientists, including ONR-sponsored work at
According to Shlesinger, the most recent work being done by Havlin optimizes
computer network designs-or how computers, printers and other electronic
devices are connected over a network-to counter different types of
electronic attacks from random to focused disruptions.
And given that cyber-attacks are becoming more commonplace, and the damage
they cause can be irreparable, the need for optimizing the security of
networks against intentional attacks and viruses is vital not only for the
Navy and Marine Corps, but other government agencies and indeed individual
Havlin has published 11 books, 800 scientific journal articles and been
cited more than 73,000 times.
"Dr. Havlin's work has had global impact across a wide range of fields as
evidenced by the number of times his work has been cited," said Suski. "The
foundational nature of his work underscores not only the importance of
funding basic research, but also the value of partnering with international
Sierra Jones is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research provides the science
and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps'
technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science
and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions
of higher learning and nonprofit institutions, and more than 960 industry
partners. ONR, through its commands, including headquarters, ONR Global and
the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3,800
people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.