A bit about me...



University and academic career

During my military service it became clear to me that science and research were my true passions. After the end of my service I received my B.Sc. in physics and mathematics (a double major) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. By my senior year I had become fascinated by astrophysics and cosmology. I began a research project with Professor Avishai Dekel, which laid the groundwork for my M.Sc. and Ph.D. theses with Professor Dekel as my advisor. Upon completing my Ph.D., I accepted an offer to become a postdoctoral associate at Yale University, and a Tschira Fellow in the new HITS-Yale Program in Astrophysics (HYPA), a collaboration between Yale University and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies, headed by Profs. Frank van den Bosch and Volker Springel. Following four years at Yale I moved to Santa Barbara to become a KITP fellow at UCSB.


My research focuses on galaxy formation at its peak phase, during the first few billion years of cosmic history (at redshift z~2). I am interested in how these early galaxies acquire fresh gas from the inter-galactic medium, and how hydrodynamic and gravitational instabilities help turn this gas into stars. My work involves both analytic modeling of physical processes from first principles, as well as running and analyzing state of the art numerical simulations.

You can read more about my research here.



In addition to academic research, I was a teaching assistant in the junior faculty at the Hebrew University throughout my graduate degree. I taught weekly lab and recitation sessions in a wide variety of introductory and advanced physics classes, as well as full classes in professors' absences, and assisted in the building of course curriculum. This is where all my years of training as an actor come in handy :-)

For a link to my lecture notes in some of the classes I have taught, click here.



My name is Nir Mandelker

I was born in Manhattan to an American father and an Israeli mother. When I was 9 my family decided to move to Israel, and I went with them... because I was 9. We settled in Tel Aviv, where my mother still live. 

High school and theatre

I graduated from Alliance High School in Tel Aviv, where I studied French, math and physics. However, my passion at this time was acting. From 1999 to 2002 I was very active as an actor, assistant director and group manager in a youth community theatre sponsored by the Tel Aviv municipality. We produced three original plays, which we performed several dozen times in Israel, including in HaBima, the National Theatre of Israel, and the Suzanne Dellal Cultural Centre. We were also invited to perform in the Deutschland National Theatre in Weimar, Germany.

In the summer of 2000, I attended a semester at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

In 2001, I was a representative of the Tel Aviv Alliance High School in a French performing arts competition sponsored by the French Consulate to Israel. As one of the first prize winners, I was awarded an all-expense paid summer course in French language and culture in France.


Aircraft Failure and Crash Investigator

As all Israelis, I went into the army after high school. This put a damper on my acting career....  I served for three years in the Israeli Air Force's failure analysis laboratory. For the first year I worked as a lab technician, operating a scanning electron microscope and performing fractographic analysis (analysis of fracture surfaces) on failed aircraft parts. For the remaining two years I served as a lead failure and crash investigator, a job usually reserved for engineers. This prompted my first academic research paper, which concerned assessment of the number of load-bearing cycles leading to fatigue fracture.

Office: Kohn Hall, University of California Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA, 93106

email: nir_mandelker -at- ucsb.edu