Benjamin Elazari Volcani

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Benjamin Elazari Volcani

Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Ben Shemen, Israel
Death: February 06, 1999 (84)
La Jolla, San Diego, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Yitschak Avigdor Elazari-Volcani and Sarah Volcani
Husband of Elanor Toni Solomons Volcani
Father of Yanon Volcani
Brother of Ruth Volcani and Zafrira Volcani

Occupation: Biologist
Managed by: Judith Berlowitz
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Elazari Volcani

Benjamin discovered life in the Dead Sea and pioneered biological silicon research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. See extensive article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Elazari_Volcani

Benjamin Elazari Volcani (4 January 1915 – 1 February 1999) discovered life in the Dead Sea and pioneered biological silicon research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Contents [show] Biography[edit] Benjamin Elazari Volcani was born January 4, 1915, in Ben Shemen, in what is now Israel, the son of Itzhak Elazari Volcani (1880–1955) and Sarah Krieger. His father, as a young Zionist in Lithuania, had studied agricultural economics, and agronomy before immigrating to Palestine in 1908, where he became a world leader in these fields. Itzhak Elazari Volcani is considered the founder of modern agriculture in Israel.[2] The Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research is named for his father, Itzhak Elazari Volcani, as is Beit Elazari, a moshav in central Israel.[3]

As a teenager Benjamin Volcani wanted to become an actor, but as an undergraduate his interest was captured by biology. He received his master of science degree in microbiology from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1936. That same year, he found that the Dead Sea, so called because it was thought to be too salty to sustain life, in fact supports several types of microorganisms now classified as halophilic archaea. Both his M.Sc. degree (1936) and Ph.D. (1940) were from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His Ph.D. thesis was the first ever written in Hebrew (“Studies of the Microflora of the Dead Sea”).

His discovery of microorganisms in the Dead Sea was the focal point of his work from 1936 to 1945 and was the theme of his doctoral thesis. From 1939 to 1958 Volcani served on the staff of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth, Israel, and in 1948 he was appointed head of the Institute's Section of Microbiology. During the 1940s, he also spent time in the United States as a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University; the California Institute of Technology; and the University of Wisconsin.

In March 1948, Volcani married Eleanor Susan Brownell Anthony "Toni" Solomons Jackson in New York City.[1][4][5][6][7][nb 1][nb 2] After their marriage, the couple settled in Israel. Volcani smuggled in a small field-radar unit in his baggage. His wife remembers walking to the market in Rehovot, about one mile (1.6 km) from their house, and diving into foxholes along the road when pairs of small two-seater Arab planes came over on bombing runs. They came in low, each dropping its 25 lb (11 kg) bomb as it flew off. The first bomb of the war fell on the street in front of the Volcani’s house. Volcani and his wife had one child, Yanon Volcani,[1] born in Israel in January 1949. Yanon is a clinical psychologist practicing in San Diego, California.

Volcani died on February 6, 1999 in La Jolla, California.[1][8]

Scientific career[edit] In 1939, Volcani became a member of the Sieff Institute in Rehovot, later renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science. He headed its laboratory of microbiology until 1959, when he joined the faculty at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He decided to focus on diatoms, one of the very few organisms that use silicon rather than calcium for their skeletal structures. Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, and in 1959 no one was working on its metabolism. The biology of silicon had been shunned by all biochemists, the dogma being that it was inert. Volcani realized that diatoms, whose life cycle is based on silicon, provided an ideal experimental canvas. From 1959 onward, his lab made multifaceted discoveries centered on biologically active silicon in marine diatoms. The lab became a focal point for the study of silicon metabolism and biomineralization at the molecular level, embracing experimental techniques, from elegant electron microscopy of diatom shells to gene cloning and the expression of silicon transporting proteins in frog eggs.

He invented ways to synchronize the cell division cycle of diatoms. He showed that silicon activates the gene coding for the polymerase enzyme that copies diatom DNA. He was also interested in the toxic and pathological effects of polysilicates, such as talc and asbestos, on mammalian cells in tissue culture, and was the first to do tissue culture at Scripps. He spent a one year sabbatical at the University of Swansea studying the effects of polysilicates on mammalian cells, and published papers on the uptake of silicic acid by rat liver mitochondria.

His studies of silicon metabolism often involved growing diatoms of various species in different concentrations of silicon and then studying the effect on specific metabolic pathways. These experiments studied pigments, lipids, amino acids, cell wall synthesis, DNA synthesis, ribosomes, sodium-potassium membrane pumps, cell membrane characterization, glycolate metabolism, cyclic nucleotide metabolism, protein kinases, and a catalog of genes that were turned on by silicon. Several papers centered on the effects of silicon on photorespiration in diatoms.

He published over 100 papers related to silicon metabolism and co-edited Silicon and Siliceous Structures in Biological Systems (Springer, 1981). He received continuing grants from the National Institutes of Health for 32 years. He trained many doctoral students and had a constant stream of postdoctoral associates and visitors passing through the lab until his retirement in 1985.

Notes[edit] Jump up ^ She was the daughter of Theodore Seixas Solomons (1870–1947) an explorer and early member of the Sierra Club and who helped discover and define the John Muir Trail; and Katherine Gray Church, the only daughter of Henry Seymour Church and Margaretta Josephine Gray. Jump up ^ An unusually gifted student, Toni scored so high on intelligence tests that she was selected for a lifelong research project known as the Terman Genetic Studies of Genius. The study was started by Lewis Terman at Stanford University. After marrying and divorcing Benjamin O. Jackson, she began a relationship with Ed Ricketts in 1940 and became his common-law wife. Toni, who had attended the University of California, Los Angeles, later worked as a personal assistant for Pulitzer Prize–winning writer John Steinbeck and was the editor of The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Beside Steinbeck, their circle of friends also included the writer and painter, Henry Miller and the mythologist, writer, and lecturer Joseph Campbell. She left Ricketts after the death of her daughter (by her first husband) Katherine Adele Jackson. She died on October 5, 1947 at the age of 12 of a brain tumor and only five months after the death of her father. References[edit] ^ Jump up to: a b c d Williams, Jack (2010). "Toni Volcani; writer, editor worked for Steinbeck". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-06-16. Jump up ^ Mapa's concise gazetteer of Israel (in Hebrew). Yuval Elʻazari (ed.). Tel-Aviv: Mapa Publishing. 2005. p. 64. ISBN 965-7184-34-7. Jump up ^ "Obituary: Zafrira Volcani". Springer Netherlands. September 1989. Retrieved 2010-06-16. Jump up ^ Raymond, Marcius D., p. 64 Jump up ^ Jordan, 372 Jump up ^ Winnett 2001, front paper Jump up ^ Railsback, p. 175 Jump up ^ 2000, University of California: In Memoriam. University of California Regents. 2000. p. 283. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help) Bibliography[edit] Dexter, Franklin Bowditch.Biographical sketches of the graduates of Yale college with annals of the college history ... Volume 3 of Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History Publisher: Holt & Company, 1903. Jordan, John W. Genealogical and personal history of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Company 1913. Railsback, Brian E; Michael J. Meyer A John Steinbeck encyclopedia Publisher: Greenwood Publisher Group, 2006 ISBN 978-0-313-29669-7 Raymond, Marcius Denison. Gray genealogy : being a genealogical record and history of the descendants of John Gray, of Beverly, Mass., and also including sketches of other Gray families. New York: Higginson Book Company, 1887. Raymond, Marcius D. Sketch of Rev. Blackleach Burritt and related Stratford families : a paper read before the Fairfield County Historical Society, at Bridgeport, Conn., Friday evening, Feb. 19, 1892. Bridgeport : Fairfield County Historical Society 1892. Sargent, Shirley. Solomons of the Sierra: The Pioneer of the John Muir Trail Yosemite, California. Publisher: Flying Spur Press ISBN 1-878345-21-4, 1990. Siemiatkoski, Donna Holt.The Descendants of Governor Thomas Welles of Connecticut, 1590–1658, and His Wife, Alice Tomes Baltimore: Publisher Gateway Press, 1990. Wineapple, Brenda.Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein Publisher: Lincoln, Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press, 2008 ISBN 0-8032-1753-6 Benjamin Elazari Volcani, Studies of the microflora of the Dead Sea: (Dissertation) Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1940. Winnett, Thomas; Morey, Kathy (2001). Guide to the John Muir Trail (Third ed.). Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press. ISBN 0-89997-221-7.


Benjamin Elazari Volcani was born January 4, 1915, in Ben-Shamen, in what is now Israel, the son of Itzhak Elazari Volcani (1880 - 1955) and Sarah Krieger. His father, as a young Zionist in Lithuania, had studied agricultural economics before emigrating to Palestine in 1908 and eventually became a world leader in the field and the acknowledged founder of modern agriculture in Israel.[1] The Volcani Center also known as the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) (Agricultural research in Israel) in Israel is named in his honor. Beit Elazari (lit. House of Elazari) a moshav in central Israel is named after him.

As a teenager he wanted to become an actor (he was notably good-looking), but as an undergraduate his interest was captured by biology. Benjamin Volcani received his master of science degree in microbiology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1936. That same year, he found that the Dead Sea, so called because it was thought to be too salty to sustain life, in fact supports several types of microorganisms now classified as halophilic archaebacteria. In 1941 Volcani received the first doctoral degree in microbiology to be awarded by Hebrew University and wrote the first Ph.D. thesis in Hebrew.

His discovery of microorganisms in the Dead Sea was the focal point of his work from 1936 to 1945 and was the theme of his doctoral thesis. From 1939 to 1958 Volcani served on the staff of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth, Israel, and in 1948 he was appointed head of the Institute's Section of Microbiology. During the 1940s, he also spent time in the United States as a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University; the California Institute of Technology; and the University of Wisconsin.

Marriage and family

In March 1948 in New York City, he married Eleanor Susan Brownell Anthony "Toni" Solomons Jackson,[2][3][4][5] Toni, who attended the University of California, Los Angeles, was the daughter of Katherine Gray Church[6][7]and Theodore Solomons,[8][9] an explorer and early member of the Sierra Club. She had first met her future husband while he was working with the famous microbiologist C. B. van Niel (a student of Albert Kluyver's) at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey in 1943. In 1940, she had begun a relationship with Ed Ricketts (the marine biologist, ecologist and philosopher) and become his common-law wife. Their circle of friends included the Nobel Prize winning novelist, John Steinbeck, writer and painter, Henry Miller and the mythologist, writer, and lecturer Joseph Campbell. Toni was at the time working as John Steinbeck's secretary and editing The Log From the Sea of Cortez. She had previously been married to and from divorced Benjamin O. Jackson. They had had one daughter, Katherine Adele Jackson (November 3, 1935 - October 5, 1947). In 1946, Katherine's health deteriorated due to a brain tumor; she died the following year, on October 5, 1947. Toni, overwhelmed with grief, left Ricketts.

Volcani and Toni had one child, Yanon Volcani, born in Israel just weeks after the end of the war in January of 1949. He is a highly respected clinical psychologist practicing in San Diego, California. Yanon Volcani received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Michigan State University in 1980

Pre-state role

Immediately after their marriage, they headed off to Palestine. The long underground struggle of the Jews in Palestine for independence was coming to fruition; Ben, as a member of the Resistance, smuggled in his baggage a small field-radar unit. One month later, on May 15, the new state of Israel was born, sparking the Arab-Israel war. Toni remembers walking to the market in Rehovot, about one mile from their house, and diving into foxholes along the road when pairs of small two-seater Arab planes came over on bombing runs. They came in low, each dropping its 25 lb. bomb as it flew off. Actually, the first bomb of the war fell on the street in front of the Volcani’s house.

Career

In 1939, Volcani became a member of the Sieff Institute in Rehovot, Israel later renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science; he headed its laboratory of microbiology until 1959, when he joined the faculty at Scripps Institution of Oceanography beginning his second major career achievement. He decided to focus on diatoms, one of the very few organisms that use silicon rather than calcium for their skeletal structures. Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, and in 1959 essentially no one was working on its metabolism. The biology of silicon had been shunned by all biochemists, the dogma being that it was inert. Ben realized that diatoms, whose life cycle is based on silicon, provided an ideal experimental canvas. From 1959 onward, Ben's lab produced a stream of multifaceted discoveries centered on biologically active silicon in marine diatoms. Ben's lab became the world focal point for the study of silicon metabolism and biomineralization at the molecular level. For many years Ben's lab was the only one engaged in the study of bioactive silicon; he kept this field alive and growing during the time when no one else dared venture into it. His lab embraced every experimental technique, from elegant electron microscopy of diatom shells to gene cloning and the expression of silicon transporting proteins in frog eggs.

He invented ways to synchronize the cell division cycle of diatoms. He showed that silicon activates the gene coding for the polymerase enzyme that copies diatom DNA. Ben was also interested in the toxic and pathological effects of polysilicates, such as talc and asbestos, on mammalian cells in tissue culture, and he was the first to do tissue culture at Scripps. He also spent a one year sabbatical at the University of Swansee studying the effects of polysilicates on mammalian cells. He even published papers on the uptake of silicic acid by rat liver mitochondria.

His studies of silicon metabolism often involved growing diatoms of various species in different concentrations of silicon and then studying the effect on specific metabolic pathways. These experiments studied pigments, lipids, amino acids, cell wall synthesis, DNA synthesis, ribosomes, sodium-potassium membrane pumps, cell membrane characterization, glycolate metabolism, cyclic nucleotide metabolism, protein kinases, and a catalog of genes that were turned on by silicon. Several papers centered on the effects of silicon on photorespiration in diatoms. He published well over 100 papers related to silicon metabolism and co-edited ― 287 ― the book Silicon and Siliceous Structures in Biological Systems (Springer, 1981). Ben had continuing grants from The National Institutes of Health for 32 years; he trained many doctoral students and had a constant stream of postdoctoral associates and visitors passing through the lab until his retirement in 1985.

Death

He died on February 6, 1999 in La Jolla, California.[10]

Notes

  1. ^ Mapa's concise gazetteer of Israel. Yuval Elʻazari (ed.). Tel-Aviv: Mapa Publishing. 2005. p. 64. ISBN 9657184347.  (Hebrew)
  2. ^ Williams, Jack (2006). "Obituary of Toni Volcani". The San Diego Union-Tribune. http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060416/news_mz1j16volcan.html. 
  3. ^ "Stern p.276". http://www.americanjewisharchives.org/pdfs/stern_p276.pdf. Retrieved on 2009-03-20. 
  4. ^ Railsback, Brian E.; Michael J. Meyer (2006). A John Steinbeck encyclopedia. Greenwood Publisher Group. p. 175. http://books.google.com/books?id=v28V8rT9MwUC&pg=PA175&lpg=PA175&dq=toni+solomons+volcani&source=bl&ots=bQs6nfK1-k&sig=eex8bdUBXP9VkFB7WJDC-hqnwww&hl=en&ei=FpPDSeWdFoG0sAOvptzbBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result. 
  5. ^ "SIO LOG #16". The Scripps Log. University of California, San Diego. 2006-05-20. http://siomail.ucsd.edu/pipermail/sio-log/2006-April/000240.html. Retrieved on 2009-03-20. 
  6. ^ Raymond, Marcius D (1887). Gray Genealogy. Higginson Book Company. p. 64. http://books.google.com/books?id=Az1PAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&dq=%22Margaretta+Josephine+Gray%22&source=bl&ots=aiy7ma5hPH&sig=fv1x1q07DgiCIgfiRHjJHqP4uBU&hl=en&ei=55HDSdLHKp3gsAOG8qX6Bg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result. 
  7. ^ Jordan, John Woolf (1913). Genealogical and personal history of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania. Lewis Historical Pub. Col.. p. 372. http://books.google.com/books?id=dNYqAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA372&lpg=PA372&dq=%22james+patton+newell%22&source=bl&ots=fEK53gQtcD&sig=mCps07U06lVExbAL-W7EucPU2n0&hl=en&ei=H5LDSc2hEYHwsAOqiuXrBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result. 
  8. ^ Leiman, Sondra; Jonathan D. Sarna (1994). America: The Jewish Experience. Union for Reform Judaism. http://books.google.com/books?id=18OdlLqqdykC&pg=PT48&lpg=PT48&dq=%22the+patriot+rabbi%22&source=bl&ots=MIRO85jaSI&sig=XU9N1cVGtaxJ5Hq7wls9f7Hdh2U&hl=en&ei=YiLESeyWPIHwsAPph5nqBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result.

February 9, 1999

Media Contacts: Janet Howard or Cindy Clark, (619) 534-3624

jehoward@ucsd.edu; cclark@ucsd.edu

Renowned Scripps Microbiologist Benjamin Volcani Dies

Benjamin Volcani, who discovered life in the Dead Sea and pioneered biological silicon research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, died Saturday from complications related to kidney failure. He was 84.

In 1969, Volcani's research group established the biologically active role that silicon plays in the most fundamental life processes through his work with diatoms, single celled aquatic plants that make up the base of the marine food chain. "Ben was the first to show that silicon is essential for DNA synthesis in diatoms. That is very important because diatoms play a critical role in the food chain in the ocean," said Victor D. Vacquier, a professor of marine biology at Scripps.

Volcani was the first to show that silicon was biologically active. For the past 35 years, he concentrated his research on the various aspects of the biological roles of silicon, from the electron microscopy of diatom shells to the isolation of genes specifying the proteins transporting silicon into cells.

In 1996, Volcani was presented with an award from Dow Corning Corporation in recognition of "a lifetime of dedication to unraveling the secrets of silicon."

"I think everyone in the field agrees that if it weren't for Ben's tenacity in sticking to the problem we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are today in the field of the biology of silicon," said Mark Hildebrand, a Scripps staff research associate who worked with Volcani.Volcani's research interests focused on the biochemistry of halophilic (salt-loving) microorganisms, microbial metabolism, biological mineralization, the biochemistry and ultrafine structure of diatoms and other siliceous organisms, and the cell walls of dinoflagellates, which sometimes cause "red tides." He also investigated whether silicon may play a role in certain types of cancer in human cells.

Born in 1915 in Ben-Shemen in what is now Israel, Volcani received his master's of science degree in microbiology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1936. That same year, he found that the Dead Sea, so called because it was thought to be too salty to sustain life, in fact supports several types of microorganisms now classified as halophilic archaebacteria. In 1941, Volcani received the first doctoral degree in microbiology to be awarded by Hebrew University and wrote the first Ph.D. thesis in Hebrew. His discovery of microorganisms in the Dead Sea was the focal point of his work from 1936 to 1945 and was the theme of his doctoral thesis.Volcani served on the staff of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth, Israel, from 1939 to 1958 and was appointed head of the Institute's Section of Microbiology in 1948. During the 1940s, he also spent time in the United States as a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University; the California Institute of Technology; and the University of Wisconsin.

Volcani was a research associate at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, in 1951. He returned to California in 1956 as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1959 was appointed professor of microbiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. In 1966, he served as consultant to NASA on the microbiology of lunar samples.Volcani was a member of the Society of the Sigma Xi, American Society for Microbiology, Biochemical Society of Great Britain, Society of General Microbiology, Great Britain, Geochemical Society, the Western Society of Naturalists, and the American Society for Cell Biology.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Toni; son, Yanon Volcani; daughter-in-law, Rory Divine; and a grandson, Doron Volcani, all of La Jolla.

  1. ## ### ### Please note: a photo of Volcani is available

Scripps Institution of Oceanography on the World Wide Web:

http://sio.ucsd.edu SIO Communications

siocomm@sio.ucsd.edu Scripps Institution of Oceanography

University of California, San Diego

www@sio.ucsd.edu

Psychological Testing Services International was founded by Yanon Volcani, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist practicing in San Diego, California. Dr. Volcani received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University in 1980. He has been working with children, adults and families for over twenty years, providing psychotherapy, psychological evaluations and clinical consultations, as well as studying children's and adults' fantasy expressions. Dr. Volcani was the Clinical Director of Southwood Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatient Unit in Chula Vista, California; the Psychology Director of Southwood Adolescent Psychiatric Residential Treatment Program; and has been teaching courses in child and adolescent psychotherapy for over fifteen years at the San Diego campus of the California School of Professional Psychology.

A highly respected mental health practitioner in the San Diego area, Dr. Volcani is often appointed by the San Diego Juvenile Court and the San Diego Family Court to provide evaluations and therapy to children, adults and families.

Dr. Volcani collaborated with Constance Dalenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the San Diego campus of the California School of Professional Psychology, and Gary Stollak, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University, in developing the present tools for assessing children's, adolescents' and adults' psychological and emotional well-being. Dr. Dalenberg and Dr. Stollak are both widely published clinicians and researchers in the area of child, adult and family studies.You are welcome to e-mail Dr. Volcani through PTSI, or contact him by phone at 858-459-5557.Our esteemed colleague, Benjamin Elazari Volcani, died in La Jolla on February 6, 1999, age 84, concluding a 40-year career at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. Ben was born on January 4, 1915, in Ben-Shamen, Palestine. His father, Itzhak, as a young Zionist in Lithuania, had studied agricultural economics before emigrating to Palestine in 1908. He eventually became one of the world leaders in the field, and the Volcani Institute in Israel is named in his honor.Ben had two sisters, both of whom predeceased him. As a teenage boy, Ben wanted to become an actor (he was notably good looking), but as an undergraduate, the study of biology captured his interest. Both his M.Sc. degree (1936) and Ph.D. (1940) were from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His Ph.D. thesis was the first ever written in Hebrew ("Studies of the Microflora of the Dead Sea").

Ben made two major contributions to science, and they divide his career into distinct phases. The first phase dealt with his discovery of life in the Dead Sea, until then thought to be too salty to sustain life. The second phase centered on his discovery that silicon, believed to be biologically inert, is not only biologically active, but is required for many biochemical pathways in diatoms. The role of diatoms in the global carbon cycle is thus largely dependent on silicon metabolism in diatoms.

In 1935, in pursuit of his Ph.D., Ben found that sediment samples from the Dead Sea contained living microorganisms; he isolated the first halophilic bacteria ever reported and named the genus Halobacterium. With the modern realization that these cells are in the Domain Archaea, the genus has been renamed Haloarcula. From these samples, Ben also isolated the first halophilic protozoa and halophilic unicellular algae ever reported.

From 1936-1944 he published six papers in the journal Nature on these completely new hypersaline-adapted microorganisms. They were so unusual that in 1936, seeking information on their biology, Ben journeyed to Delft to the laboratory of A.J. Kluyver, the greatest microbiologist of that time. He spent one year in Delft and one year in Utrecht, before returning to Palestine in 1939 as a staff researcher at the Sieff Research Institute in Rehovot, which later became the world renowned Weizmann Institute of Science. The two years in Holland were Ben's first foreign experience. He had wonderful memories of working with Kluyver and he made life-long friends among the students and postdoctorals.Ben was a supreme packrat who never threw anything away. He kept the original 1930's collections of Dead Sea sediments in a cabinet in his office at Scripps. In the 1990s, while preparing for a meeting in Spain devoted to halophilic bacteria, he opened some of the 60 year old liquid cultures of the original Dead Sea sediment and succeeded in growing out several microorganisms hitherto unknown. In collaboration with Professor Antonio Ventosa and coworkers in Barcelona, Ben was co-authoring papers on these new species at the time of his death. His last co-authored paper describing a new hypersaline bacterium was published in the spring of 1999, concluding the first phase of his 63 year career, that of describing novel, hypersaline microorganisms. Ben's life-long contribution to the discovery of such microorganisms was honored by the naming of the eubacterial genus Volcaniella and the archaeal species Haloferax volcanii.

Ben remained on the staff of the Weizmann Institute from 1939-1958. In 1945-1946 he took his first sabbatical in the Department of Plant Nutrition at UC Berkeley and in 1946-1947 worked with the famous microbiologist C. B. van Niel (a student of Kluyver's), at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey, California. It was there that he met Toni Jackson, to whom he was married in March of 1948 in New York City. Two weeks later they were on a ship to then-Palestine, still governed by the British.

The long underground struggle of the Jews in Palestine for independence was coming to fruition; a member of the Resistance, Ben smuggled in his baggage a small field-radar unit. One month later, on May 15, the new state of Israel was born, sparking the Arab-Israel war. Toni remembers walking to the market in Rehovot, about one mile from their house, and diving into foxholes along the road when pairs of small two-seater Arab planes came over on bombing runs. They came in low, each dropping its 25 lb. bomb as it flew off. Actually, the first bomb of the war fell on the street in front of the Volcani's house. Everyone ran for cover to the garden's slit-like trench except Ben's mother who grabbed a broom and began sweeping the rubble from the lawn and front porch into the street. (Viewing Ben's office at Scripps would convince anyone that Ben's mother's penchant for neatness was not a dominant genetic trait.) The war ended in January 1949. Just two weeks before the end of the war, Yanon, their son and only child was born. He is now a successful clinical psychologist in La Jolla.

During his first sabbatical from the Sieff Institute in 1947-48, Ben had spent the winter at Caltech in Pasadena, and the spring of 1948 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Upon his return to the now-Israel, he was given a permanent post at the Sieff, now much enlarged as the Weizmann Institute of Science. He took one break in 1951 to work with Professor Jacques Monod at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, and then settled down in Rehovot to continue his study on the Dead Sea microorganisms.He took his second sabbatical in 1956, spending most of it with Professor H. A. Barker at U.C. Berkeley. He extended his leave to come to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to work with Professor C. E. Zobell. While in La Jolla in 1959, Scripps' Director, Roger Revelle, offered Ben a faculty position at Scripps, which was soon to become the nucleus for the beginning of the new UCSD campus. Ben accepted, and the family moved to La Jolla with their possessions, which filled three suitcases.

At that time La Jolla realtors were still observing a traditional agreement not to rent or sell to Jews. But, with the connivance of a more liberal realtor (who needed the commission) they were shown lots. The realtor asked, "By the way, you aren't Jewish, are you?" Ben's response was, "Why yes, indeed we are Jewish." The realtor's response was, "Volcani, sounds Italian to me, just don't tell anyone anything different." Ben liked telling

this story to show how La Jolla has changed. Ben and Toni found an "unbuildable" lot, which was therefore unbelievably cheap, in one of the most swanky sections of La Jolla. They gave their entire meager savings as a down payment (whereupon the realtor offered to buy the lot back for double the price).

It was the move to Scripps that began Ben's second major career achievement. He decided to focus on diatoms, one of the very few organisms that use silicon rather than calcium for their skeletal structures. Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, and in 1959 essentially no one was working on its metabolism. The biology of silicon had been shunned by all biochemists, the dogma being that it was inert. Ben realized that diatoms, whose life cycle is based on silicon, provided an ideal experimental canvas.

From 1959 onward, Ben's lab produced a stream of multifaceted discoveries centered on biologically active silicon in marine diatoms. Ben's lab became the world focal point for the study of silicon metabolism and biomineralization at the molecular level. For many years Ben's lab was the only one engaged in the study of bioactive silicon; he kept this field alive and growing during the time when no one else dared venture into it. His lab embraced every experimental technique, from elegant electron microscopy of diatom shells to gene cloning and the expression of silicon transporting proteins in frog eggs. Ben invented ways to synchronize the cell division cycle of diatoms. He showed that silicon activates the gene coding for the polymerase enzyme that copies diatom DNA. Ben was also interested in the toxic and pathological effects of polysilicates, such as talc and asbestos, on mammalian cells in tissue culture, and he was the first to do tissue culture at Scripps. He also spent a one year sabbatical at the University of Swansee studying the effects of polysilicates on mammalian cells. He even published papers on the uptake of silicic acid by rat liver mitochondria.

Ben's studies of silicon metabolism often involved growing diatoms of various species in different concentrations of silicon and then studying the effect on specific metabolic pathways. These experiments studied pigments, lipids, amino acids, cell wall synthesis, DNA synthesis, ribosomes, sodium-potassium membrane pumps, cell membrane characterization, glycolate metabolism, cyclic nucleotide metabolism, protein kinases, and a catalog of genes that were turned on by silicon. Several papers centered on the effects of silicon on photorespiration in diatoms. He published well over 100 papers related to silicon metabolism and co-edited the book Silicon and Siliceous Structures in Biological Systems (Springer, 1981). Ben had continuing grants from The National Institutes of Health for 32 years; he trained many doctoral students and had a constant stream of postdoctoral associates and visitors passing through the lab until his retirement in 1985. Although Emeritus, he remained active for another decade, most of which involved collaborative work with a senior research associate, Mark Hildebrand. Ben's major contributions to this collaboration with Mark were to keep the diatoms growing in tens of liters of culture and to synchronize their divisions. He could be found late at night on the weekends wheeling giant culture vats down the hall to the autoclave. He was totally involved in doing "hands-on" research, publishing papers and worrying about funding, until the very end of his life. In 1996 the Dow-Corning Company gave Ben a special award in recognition of "a lifetime of dedication to unraveling the secrets of silicon."

Ben Volcani had a passion for the scientific literature and for talking to people. For decades he would arrive at the Scripps library early on Saturday and spend the entire day reading the new journals. He was absolutely unselective and read the table of contents of every journal regardless of scientific field or language. He would leave stacks of journals in the library reading room as testaments to his Saturday battle with the literature. He would put a little Z on the back of each journal he had read.

He would take a break for lunch out on the Hubbs Hall balcony. Without fail he would engage the tourists who came to look at the view. These conversations with visitors could last for an hour. If they had small children he would dash into his office and return with tennis balls and beach toys. He kept boxes of these items under his desk, all of which he had found during his walks on La Jolla Shores Beach, walks that he always loved to take. Ben enjoyed talking to people and hearing their stories so much that he could have been an excellent clinical psychologist like his son, Yanon. When he came back from foreign travel he always had stories about interesting people he had met; none of these stories were related to science. He had enormous charm and warmth and his eyes sparkled with happiness.Ben's ease with strangers, from dignitaries to visiting families, and also with students, probably stemmed from his upbringing in one of Israel's most distinguished science families and the consequent stream of international scholars and dignitaries passing through his family home. Once, without warning, he brought a man into his lab at Scripps and said, "I want you to meet an old friend of mine who is a president. He is the president of a very small, but very important country." The man with him was Efraim Katchalski, the then President of Israel, who, being a biochemist, immediately wanted to know what was going on in the lab. On another occasion Ben came into his lab towing a smallish, frail, shy man and said, "I want you to meet my old friend Fritz." There standing before us was Fritz Lipmann, a Nobel Laureate for the discovery of coenzyme A and a god of biochemistry.

In the later years Ben and Toni were blessed by Rory Devine, Yanon's wife, and then by a grandson, Doron. If ever there was an involved grandfather, it was Ben. He would go shopping for toys and gadgets for Doron, and he and Doron developed a very close bond. It was the ideal relationship everyone wants to see between grandparent and grandchild. Some of the toys Ben would bring to the lab for demonstrations. One was a sticky rubber octopus that you threw at a flat wall hitting close to the ceiling. The octopus would then walk down the wall, sticking with each leg for just a few seconds. Ben liked the octopus so much that he bought many, which he distributed to parents of small kids in Marine Biology.Ben Volcani was a fixture at Scripps, his long white hair blowing in the sea breeze as he walked around campus. We will remember his great interest in any scientific discovery and how excited he would be when you told him about your latest experiment, or listened to him recount his. He approached all facets of life with unmatched intensity and passion. We will always remember his interest in science and people, his warm conversation, friendship andcharm.

Farooq Azam

Andrew A. Benson

Victor D. Vacquier, Chair





            
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Benjamin Elazari Volcani's Timeline

1915
January 4, 1915
Ben Shemen, Israel
1999
February 6, 1999
Age 84
La Jolla, San Diego, California, United States
February 7, 1999
Age 84