History of the School

updated: 21.02.2021

History of the School
Physics Faculty Members & Guests at Tel Aviv University 1967-1968

Tel Aviv University (TAU) was founded in 1956. In 1963, Dr. George S. Wise was appointed President of the University, and set up the Physics Department. He appointed Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, the former Scientific Director of the I.A.E.C. (Israel Atomic Energy Commission), to be Department Head and the Department started international-level scientific activities.


In its early years, the Department was mainly involved in teaching physics to students from other disciplines such as chemistry, life sciences and mathematics. The Department later established a theoretical group specializing in High-Energy Physics that awarded M.Sc.'s in Theoretical Physics. The first cohort was made up of three students who had completed their undergraduate work in Applied Mathematics. In 1965, the Shenkar building was built, and in 1966 when the infrastructure was available, undergraduate programs also began to be offered. The laboratories were built on the ground floor of the Shenkar building. The first-year teaching laboratory was opened first. In successive years, additional laboratories were opened for 2nd and 3rd year students.  


As academic activity expanded and the Department received accreditation from the Council for Higher Education, research groups in solid-state physics, high energy and nuclear physics were formed. To encompass the entire range of physics, courses in astronomy and astrophysics, medical physics, applied physics and plasma physics were taught. In 1969 the name of the department was changed to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 1971, the Florence and George Wise Observatory was built in Mitzpe Ramon, providing facilities for astronomical observations. In 1985 the department was again renamed as the School of Physics and Astronomy.


The Department faculty was initially comprised of internationally renowned researchers, both Israeli and foreign. From 1974 to1978, and again in the beginning of the 1990’s, a number of well-known scientists from the former Soviet Union joined the faculty.


1974 - Yuval Ne'eman's 50th birthday

Above: 1974 - Yuval Ne'eman's 50th birthday

Left to right: Gedalia Ne'eman (Yuval's father), Student, Student, Prof. Yakir Aharonov, Prof. Guy Deutscher, Prof. Avivi Yavin, Prof. Asher Gotsman, Prof. Yuval Ne'eman



Heads of School:




Prof. Yuval Ne'eman



Prof. Asher Gotsman


1971-1975, 1978-1982, 1992-1995

Prof. Giora Shaviv



Prof. Itzhak Kelson



Prof. David Horn



Prof. Daniel Ashery



Prof. Shimon Yankielowicz



Prof. Jechiel Lichtenstadt



Prof. Aharon Levy



Prof. Yaron Oz



Prof. David Andelman



Prof. Dan Maoz



Prof. Erez Etzion - 2019-Present













1995 - School of Physics and Astronomy 30th Anniversary

Above: 1995 - School of Physics and Astronomy 30th Anniversary 

Left to right: Prof. Yakir Aharonov, Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, Prof. Benoit Mandelbrot (Wolf Prize Laureate), Prof. Alex Muller (Nobel Prize Laureate), Prof. David Horn, Prof. Tsung-Dao Lee (Nobel Prize Laureate), Prof. Asher Gotsman


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