ProdanDr. Emil Prodan, a professor of Physics at Yeshiva, received his PhD from Rice University in theoretical physics and has an MS in theoretical physics and an MS in mathematical physics. He was previously a fellow of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. He received postdoctoral training from University of California at Santa Barbara/University of Southern California and Rice University.

1.  What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I was a fellow of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials at Princeton University. I used theoretical physics, mathematics and computers to study the electron transport in molecular electronic devices and the possibility of making a topological quantum computer using non-abelian fractional quantum states of matter.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
Teaching-wise, I am thrilled to see that the students in both introductory and advanced classes continue to remain engaged with the subject and participate to the class with interesting questions and comments. Research-wise, the best aspect is my liberty to explore different research directions and the luxury of being able to take the time to read and study difficult science pieces. While my research field was and probably will remain the physics of condensed matter, the techniques and the frameworks used in my research have constantly progressed.

As opposed to other departments, where the pressure from the peers and the pressure to publish at any cost may force one to stick with the main research flow of the department, thank to the moral and material support at Stern, I’m able to constantly study new theoretical techniques, especially advanced mathematics such Operator Algebras and Non-Commutative Geometry. Mastering these fields to a point where I could apply them to condensed matter physics and produce original contributions took years. I am not sure if I could have accomplished that if I was in a different place.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I never thought of doing anything else because the research was always so interesting and captivating.

4. What is your goal as a scientist, and what is your goal as a teacher?
The materials science, which presently drives the technical revolution we witness all around us, became extremely complex and it will be difficult to sustain its progress at the present breakneck speed.  Theoretical Physics and Mathematics, and here I mean real mathematics with all its big guns, will play an increasing role in this aspect. One of my goals is to show how that works and what are the benefits of it. As a teacher, my goal is simple and very clear: to convince the students that they have the power to change the world for the better and to help them believe in that.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a pretty good soccer player.

 

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