Colleagues mourn loss of ‘genius’ Israeli scientist mowed down in Kent car smash

Noga Sella, 40, died from injuries sustained in crash outside a multi-storey car park in Ramsgate, Kent, last week


An Israeli physicist killed when a sports car ploughed into her family of five was a “genius” scientist working in Cambridge on cures for chronic diseases, colleagues have told the JC.

Noga Sella, 40, died from injuries sustained in the horror smash outside a multi-storey car park in Ramsgate, Kent, last week. Her father, Yoram Hirshfeld, 78, also died and her husband, Omer, and two young children suffered injuries.

Nitesh Bissendary, 30, has been charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He has been remanded in custody.

Officers investigating the incident also arrested a 58-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman on suspicion of assisting an offender and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. Both have been released on bail until 8 September.

Bissendary was also charged with failing to stop at the scene of a road traffic collision, drug driving and failing to provide a sample for analysis. He was remanded in custody by magistrates.

Mrs Sella’s colleagues at technology company Cambridge Design Partnership paid tribute to the physicist and shed light on her pioneering role.

A partner at the company, Uri Baruch, a fellow Israeli who worked closely with Mrs Sella, said she was “pivotal” in supporting the search for cures for many chronic diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

An emotional Mr Baruch told the JC: “We have lost someone incredible.
“Noga was at the cutting edge of everything we are doing here. Her role as a consultant physicist at the company was to model the mathematics within our product development processes.

“She was working on many very important projects.”
Mrs Sella studied physics to master’s level at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Tel Aviv University before joining the Cambridge company last year.

“As well as being an extraordinary physicist, she was a wonderful human being,” he said. “She was such a good friend and she had many interests outside work, including sewing, hiking and orienteering. She was also deeply involved with the Girl Guides.”

Aside from her family, to whom she was devoted, her main love was physics. “She was passionate about science, especially physics, and she had that rare gift of being able to talk about it in a way that made it understandable and interesting,” he said. “She made it seem possible and within reach.

“She did a lot of work outside her job here to promote the STEM subjects to girls and young women in such a way that it excited and inspired them. She made them want to be like her. We are going to miss her so, so much.”

Matt Schumann, founder and managing director at Cambridge Design Partnership, added his tribute, saying: “Noga was a brilliant physicist who had an enormous impact on those who worked alongside her.

"People who can connect deep scientific knowledge with real-world context are rare, but Noga did this every day, looking at complex technical challenges logically and end-to-end.

“Her mathematical modelling and simulations were masterly. She could make or break an idea with her genius simulations. The maths didn’t lie.

"Her warmth matched her intelligence. She built people up, helping them feel confident and smart, and ardently championed professional development, particularly for her fellow women in STEM. We’ll miss Noga deeply, and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad and difficult time.”

Another colleague, Deborah Norris, who had recently mentored Mrs Sella, said: “Noga was genuine, funny and kind, and I’ve struggled to find the words to express the deep sadness I feel on losing her, and the devastation to her family.

“My professional world is rooted in mechanical, ‘real’ objects, where Noga was a physicist. She could explain her domain in such a tangible way that, for a short time at least, I felt I understood her world.

“She gave me a glimpse into her own professional hopes and goals, and I never took this lightly.

“It makes me so very sad to know that those future dreams have been cut short. But I’m glad for the opportunity to get to know Noga as I did, because she was one of those people that made the world a little better simply by being in it.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive