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Ben-Tzion Karsh ’93, MS’96, PhD’99

Ben-Tzion Bentzi Karsh arrived on the UW campus in 1989, and never left. After a decade of study, he did a postdoctoral fellowship and was hired as an assistant professor of industrial engineering. In 2007, he received tenure at age 35.

March 01, 2008

2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree

UW Major: Psychology and industrial engineering
Age: 36 | Madison
Associate professor of industrial engineering at UW-Madison

Ben-Tzion Bentzi Karsh arrived on the UW campus in 1989, and never left. After a decade of study, he did a postdoctoral fellowship and was hired as an assistant professor of industrial engineering. In 2007, he received tenure at age 35.

Karsh's work has been recognized around the country. Attracting more than $2.7 million in funding, his research focuses on reducing medical errors, the fourth leading cause of death in the nation, particularly among the most vulnerable: children and the elderly.

His passion for teaching extends beyond the classroom. Karsh takes students to hospitals to meet health care providers and patients, and to study current systems of providing care so they can develop methods to improve safety and quality. He teaches online and summer courses for health care professionals, and has been invited to lecture on medical errors and related topics around the globe. Among all the accolades, Karsh is most proud of the PhD students who have earned awards and fellowships under his mentorship.

Karsh is quick to share credit: his PhD adviser Mike Smith showed him how to be an inspiring teacher and mentor; and his parents, Sari and Yehuda, instilled a strong work ethic and belief in the importance of family and fun. His four grandparents all suffered great loss during the Holocaust and managed to start over and provide wonderful lives for the new families they created, he says.

Named after his paternal grandfather, Karsh says that the UW-Madison has both strengthened his family and helped start a new one. His younger brothers and sisters followed in his footsteps by attending the UW, giving the siblings a chance to reconnect. He met his wife, Arielle Silver, on campus; shes currently a student in the UW Law School. On football Saturdays, you'll find Karsh at Camp Randall, cheering for the Badgers and watching his youngest brother, Don Karsh, in the UW Marching Band.

In his own words

Where to start!?!?! I received my BS (1993), MS (1996) and PhD (1999) from UW, did my postdoctoral fellowship at UW (19992001), was hired as an assistant professor at UW (20012006), received tenure from UW (2007), have mentored half a dozen PhD students at UW, have taught several hundred undergraduates at UW, launched an exciting research career focused on medical errors at UW, met my wife at UW (who incidentally is getting her law degree from UW), grew closer with my younger sister (UW-Madison BS 1995), younger brother (UW BBA 2001) and youngest brother (UW BA hopefully 2008!) while they attended UW, spend my Saturdays during the fall at UW football games (where I can watch my brother in the UW Marching Band)!!

In other words my UW experience has:

a. launched and provided me with an incredible career where I teach undergraduates, masters students and PhD students every day. It has also allowed me to develop a large research lab focused on reducing medical errors among pediatric and elderly patients. My research contributes directly to the Wisconsin Idea by helping to improve health care for Wisconsin's most vulnerable.

b. strengthened an existing family and started a new one. As the oldest child I was first off to college and so missed out on much of my younger siblings childhood. But, since all three of my siblings attended UW I had a chance to reconnect and bond with them. This was especially wonderful for my youngest brother and I since he is 13 years younger. I left for UW when he was only 4. And, because I met my wife here, UW helped to start a new family!

c. provided a great social outlet on football Saturdays.

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