HomeJanuary 2013Varying Degrees

Varying Degrees


icking up her bags, her dog and her husband and children, Dr. Maya Kleiman has traded in the Negev Desert for a milder, more relaxing Southern California.  A native of Haifa, Israel, Dr. Kleiman now resides in Irvine, pursuing her post-doctorate fellowship with the goal of creating the world’s first synthetic lung tissue to help curb the world’s pollution problem.

Dr. Kleiman originally found herself in a different field of science than her current subject of research, graduating Summa Cum Laude in biochemistry and Cum Laude in mathematics from Israel’s esteemed Technion University in Haifa.  She continued her studies at Technion University, achieving a master’s degree in biochemistry.  This diverse background in both science and mathematics was further supplemented by her extensive doctoral studies in the chemistry department of Ben Gurion University where her focus on the evolution of sexual reproduction earned her a doctorate.

Arriving in Irvine just over a month ago, Dr. Kleiman is now the beginning researcher and pioneer of a new exchange program between the University of California at Irvine and several different Israeli universities which would send faculty from both countries back and forth to continue scientific collaboration between UC Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences and the Jewish state. Kleiman finds herself specifically focusing on a new “carbon capture” technology, working in the lab of Professor Aaron Esser-Kahn of UC Irvine’s Department of Chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences.  The project Kleiman and Esser-Kahn alike are working on is aimed at helping to reduce the pollution that factories and other facilities emit into the atmosphere.  By conducting research on a bird’s lung, the most efficient lung because of its high surface density, researchers attempt to create a synthetic lung tissue that would, in theory, limit the hazardous pollution from damaging the environment.

Dr. Kleiman herself is responsible for computer modeling using pre existing polymers with the same properties of lung cells to engineer synthetic material to recreate a lung with the highest ratio between respiratory surface density and mass, which forms the most efficient lung.  By creating this new synthetic material, ideally it would be able to handle the mass transfer of oxygen and reduce the amount of contamination.

A wife and mother of two children Rotem and Michal, Dr. Kleiman cited leaving her extended family and friends in Israel as her most difficult challenge. The current project she is working on will take at least one year to complete, and after its completion, she looks to tentatively return to her native Israel and work in the realm of Israeli academia.  While UC Irvine has been a campus of much concern after the student government recommended that the university divest from some Israeli companies or companies sympathetic to Israel, Kleiman and other future post doctoral researches are tangible examples of the relationship UC Irvine has with Israeli innovation across the board.  Kleiman and researchers like herself are examples of the stunning leaders Israel produces in all fields of life, and her presence in Irvine should be a source of pride to the OC Jewish community.


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