A native of Tel Aviv, Dr. Sagi Ben-Ami earned his BA (2005) and MSc (2008) in physics from the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. He completed his PhD in the Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2014, in Prof. Avishay Gal-Yam’s lab. Dr. Ben-Ami was awarded a NASA Einstein fellowship in 2014 and conducted his postdoctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In January 2020, he returned to the Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics where he joined the Weizmann team on the Israel-U.S. space-borne ULTRASAT mission, the latest revolutionary project in space exploration.
An experimental astrophysicist, Dr. Ben-Ami develops advanced instruments and methods that help detect “bio-signatures”—substances whose origin specifically requires a biological agent—on planets outside of our solar system. Dr. Ben-Ami is currently working on developing a spectrograph, an instrument whose ability to capture extremely high spectral resolutions will enable the detection of O2—one of the strongest indicators of planetary life. The ULTRASAT project that Dr. Ben-Ami has been involved with since its early stages represents a major step forward for the astrophysics community. A mini-satellite with an unprecedented large field of view, ULTRASAT will be capable of detecting and measuring the UV emissions—another important indicator of life—from transient explosions minutes after they occur, not the days or weeks captured by current telescopic systems. This satellite is expected to detect 300 times the number of celestial events that today’s technologies are currently able to identify.
Dr. Ben-Ami is married to Flavia Rocha, whom he met while at Harvard. In his spare time he enjoys working out, reading, and riding motorcycles.