(photo:  Renee Ghert-Zand/Times of Israel)

(photo: Renee Ghert-Zand/Times of Israel)

By Renee Ghert-Zand - May 25, 2015

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

Amer Sweity lives at Midreshet Ben-Gurion in Sde Boker, a tiny community located some 50 kilometers south of Beersheba. He is a Negev desert pioneer, but not in the usual sense. Residing and conducting research at Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sweity recently became the first Jordanian citizen to earn a doctoral degree from an Israeli university.

In fact, based on inquiries The Times of Israel made with several of Israel’s largest universities and the Council of Higher Education in Israel, it appears that Sweity, 34, is the first foreign national from any Arab country to have received a PhD in Israel.

Sweity, who received the BGU Rector’s Award for excellence upon the completion of his degree this past March, is an expert in desalination. His research focuses on the polyamide membranes used in the process of turning seawater into potable water. Specifically, he seeks to optimize the use of various chemicals that are added to the seawater to prevent scaling on the membranes.

“These chemicals can cause side effects. We want to see whether the chemicals decrease the membranes’ efficiency, or whether they create bacterial growth on the membranes,” said Sweity as he showed this reporter around the lab where he did his PhD research funded by Israel’s Water Authority. Read More