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Joel Sussman
Eminent Bio-Physicist

By Ken Schneider

Professor Joel L. Sussman, Ph.D.

I believe that I first met Joel some time in 1962. I barely remember the exact circumstances but they are not important. We became friendly during his time at Cornell. I always appreciated his sense of humor. I am sure that he well remembers when I tried to defend him in Traffic Court in Ithaca- luckily he got off only with a moderate fine.

Joel spent his years at Cornell studying Physics and being a fantastic Photo Editor of the Cornell Sun. In fact he told me at one time that one thing he really got out of his Cornell Education was the ability to shoot really good pictures.

Any way as his time on Hill ended Joel decided to pursue the relatively new field of BioPhysics and headed off to M.I.T. to do this. For the most part he stayed in Cambridge but did end up following his advisor to Columbia in the end- although his PhD is from M.I.T.

Joel and I then lost contact for several years. It came as a great surprise to me to learn in the mid- 1970s’ that Joel, former resident of Great Neck, Ithaca and Cambridge had emigrated to Israel and was now pursuing his academic career there.

At present, Joel is a professor of structural biology at the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Joel’s research is focused on describing the structures and functions of proteins in general with a particular emphasis on those proteins intrinsic to the nervous system. He is also the lead scientist behind Protocepedia. This is a new online protein structure encyclopedia.