Alumni at a Glance: Dr. Louis R. Nemzer

Dr. Louis R. Nemzer ’05YC, Associate Professor of Physics at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida


What convinced you to attend YU?
Having attended Jewish Day School, I wanted to continue in an academic environment that combined both secular and Torah study.

How would you describe your time at YU in general?
I had a very positive experience at YU. My Rabbis and professors were excellent, and I felt a very strong sense of community. I would especially like to thank Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg [instructor in the Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program]; the physics faculty, including my advisers, Dr. Gabriel Cwilich and Dr. Fredy Zypman; and the honors program director, Dr. Joanne Jacobson [professor emeritus of English and former associate dean for academic affairs].

Can you recollect one or two experiences that would give readers a feel for the essence of your YU experience?
Being part of the honors program allowed us to experience some of the world-class culture only available in New York City, including listening to chamber music and attending a performance of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

In what way(s) did your YU experience influence the choices you made in your life?
Seeing incredible scholars who were also upstanding individuals showed me that professional excellence is only valuable if it is combined with personal growth and responsibility.

What are your research projects/interests?
My research involves medical applications of physics. I am currently on sabbatical this year to be a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I am working on discovering the conditions that are most likely to give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria using computer simulations combined with experimental data. The cover feature in Physics World describes our work at NSU on developing a machine learning algorithm to help predict the onset of seizures in patients with epilepsy.

What drives you to do research in these areas?
I have always been interested in using the methods of physics to study living systems, and in particular, to help solve problems that affect the quality of life for people. Some of the biggest public health challenges we face today—including the emerging threat of antibiotic resistant “superbugs”—require new approaches and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Anything that you feel it’s important for readers to know about you and your work?
The YU logo reads “Torah u’Maddah,” but for me, the motto of the University is:

שָׂ֣שׂ אָ֭נֹכִֽי עַל־אִמְרָתֶ֑ךָ כְּ֝מוֹצֵ֗א שָׁלָ֥ל רָֽב׃
“I rejoice over Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

(Tehillim 119:162 – This verse is also recited on Rosh Hashanah right before the sounding of the Shofar)

The joy of discovery—whether it is a chiddush [novel interpretation] in Gemara [rabbinic commentary] or a new understanding of physics—is one of the greatest feelings a person can experience.