Jacob Blaustein Institutes of Desert Research (BIDR)




Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Mailing address:

The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
E-Mail: bidr@bgu.ac.il
Phone: 972-8-6596777
Fax: 972-8-6596703


Mission statement

The mission of the BIDR is to carry out scientific research and training required for attaining sustainable use of the Negev Desert of Israel and of other drylands in Israel and the world over.

The environment of the location

The Sede Boqer Campus (30° 52′ 0 N, 34° 46′ 60 E) is located at the heart of the Negev Desert, in an arid dryland, with winter uni-modal mean annual precipitation of ca. 90 mm, and elevation of 450 m above sea level, limestone rocky outcrops and thick loess soils in valleys and plains. The campus is a part of the settlement of Midreshet Ben-Gurion, with a population size of ca 1.500, within a rural area with farming and pastoral settlements. The BIDR is 50 min drive from two nearest cities, in one of which (Beer Sheva) the major campus of Ben-Gurion University resides.

Short history and milestones

Following a 1972 recommendation of the Council for Higher Education of the State of Israel, and a 1973 decision of the Government of Israel, the Institute for Desert Research was established in Sede Boqer Campus of Ben-Gurion University in 1974, charged with the objective of contributing to Negev Desert development, through scientific research. In 1980, The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation made a major gift, which merited naming the Institutes as The Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR). In 1998 the Council of Higher Education authorized a Master in Desert Studies program, to be operated by the Albert Katz School of Desert Studies, as the academic teaching instrument of the BIDR. During the first years of the new millennium the campus was rebuilt, and the many disciplinary units of the Institute were consolidated to create three institutes, that combined form the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.


The Institutes’ community constitutes 90 faculty members, ca 60 technical and administrative staff and over 200 Israeli and foreign research students, as well as 20 visiting scientists at any given time. The structure is that of three institutes, jointly served by an administration, a graduate school, and a center for scientific cooperation.

The Institutes are:

    • French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands , with the Albert Katz Department of Dryland Biotechnologies (Fish and microalgae aquaculture, desert plant biotechnology), and the Wyler Department of Dryland Agriculture (runoff agroforestry, ecophysiology, range and animal husbandry)
    • Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research , with the Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology (Transport processes, water resource engineering, microbial ecology, bioremediation), and the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment (Desalination through reverse osmosis and electrodialysis , membrane development, water pre-treatment, reuse of urban effluents);
    • Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental Research , with Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology (Physiological, behavioral, population, community and ecosystem ecology), Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics (Solar energy development, meteorology, remote sensing applications, mathematical modeling), Man in the Desert (Desert architecture and urban planning, dryland-relevant social and policy issues).
    • The Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies provides M.Sc./M.A. in Desert Studies (teaching language English – specializations in environmental physics, water sciences and technology; ecology; dryland agriculture, aquaculture and biotechnology; social sciences, architecture and urban planning in drylands), M.Sc. in Hydrology and Ph.D. in all areas covered by the three Institutes, whose faculty members teach in the School; Student accommodation provided on campus).
  • Blaustein Center for Scientific Cooperation supports national and international conferences, post-doctoral fellowships, visiting scientists, and it oversees the Transnational Access, Dryland Research “Specific Support Action” (SSA) of the European Commission’s Framework Program 6, which provides access to BIDR facilities to European Union researchers cooperating with BIDR faculty.