Meet the Arava Institute Students


Daniel Dray is a sophomore at Columbia University in New York City studying Environmental Engineering. Originally from Weston, Florida, Daniel is currently in his first semester studying at the Arava Institute. In addition to his courses, Daniel is currently completing an independent study on solar air heater technology for diverse communities.

Daniel says that one of the most meaningful parts of studying at the Arava Institute is meeting people of diverse backgrounds. He has enjoyed visiting his classmates’ homes around the region and getting to experience the Middle East through their eyes.

An avid Miami Heat fan, Daniel’s favorite sport is basketball — though he also knows how to do origami!



Karen Koelzer is originally from Vienna, Austria, and is in her second semester studying at the Arava Institute. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Vienna, where she studied biology with a concentration on plant sciences. While studying at the Arava Institute, Karen is also pursuing her Master’s in plant science at the University of Vienna.

In Karen’s words, she comes from a very scientific background, and one of the most enjoyable parts of studying at the Arava Institute is the combination of politics and economy that comes from bringing together a diverse group to study science and the environment.

Prior to studying at the Arava Institute, Karen volunteered with refugees in Vienna and completed anthropological research in Kyrgyzstan. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and exploring new places!