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Award-winning marine ecologist killed in Tel Aviv traffic accident

Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, an esteemed environmental scientist and tech entrepreneur, knocked off her electric scooter Sunday afternoon

Screen capture from video of marine biologist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of marine biologist Shimrit Perkol-Finkel. (YouTube)

An esteemed marine biologist who pioneered an innovative solution for eco-friendly seawalls was killed in Tel Aviv on Sunday while riding an electric scooter.

Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, 45, was riding down Hamasger Street when she was struck by a passing truck. The driver, a 30-year-old resident of Tira, was called in for questioning by the police. She is survived by her husband and three children.

Her husband, Kobi Perkol-Finkel, speaking Monday, said that “Shimrit pushed for a change in worldview.”

“Israel was too small for her, most of the business she did was abroad,” he told the Ynet news site. “Her concept was that what went into the water should be green and help the sea. Shimrit wanted to contribute, help and change.”

The Kan public broadcaster aired video showing the moments before the accident.

The accident took place on Sunday afternoon, close to the offices of ECOncrete, an environmental infrastructure startup that Perkol-Finkel co-founded in 2012. Her husband said she had been on her way to pick up one of their children.

Perkol-Finkel had been due to take part in an International Women’s Day seminar at Tel Aviv University on Monday.

ECOncrete, where Perkol-Finkel served as CEO and chief scientist, released a statement describing how the ecologist “inspired and lifted all of us with her love of the ocean, and her vision for rescuing it.”

“The environmental world lost a hero yesterday,” wrote senior Environmental Protection Ministry official Dror Zurel.

Perkol-Finkel was a widely celebrated marine biologist and ecologist who specialized in the sustainable management of urban marine habitats. Passionate about reducing the ecological footprint of coastal and marine infrastructure, the scientist spent the past 20 years eco-engineering innovative concrete products to transform future coastlines by providing marine construction materials that assist sea ecology.

She was named in the 2020 “Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower” book as a global influence.

In 2018, Perkol-Finkel was a We Empower awardee for advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in 2019, the winner of the EU Prize for Women Innovators. Alongside working on several international projects, Perkol-Finkel served as an ecological adviser for Israel’s marine spatial planning program.

The European Union’s delegation to Israel tweeted condolences to Perkol-Finkel’s family and friends on Monday, writing, “We have learned of the tragic death of Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, the winner of the 2019 Flag of European UnionEU Prize for Women Innovators. Her groundbreaking work will continue to inspire women and girls across to world. May her memory be a blessing.”

Perkol-Finkel also won the “Pitch to Rich” contest in October 2019, sponsored by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, as part of the events marking the launch of his Virgin Atlantic carrier’s flights between London and Tel Aviv.

Since the beginning of the year there have been four fatalities connected to electric scooters and bicycles, according to Or Yarok, a traffic safety organization. In 2020, Israel had 24 fatalities and a 12% increase in accidents compared to 2019 despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, the National Road Safety Authority reported.

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