2014 - 2015

Speakers are listed in order of appearance.


Bruce Goode 
Professor of Biology

Bruce Goode received his bachelor's degree and his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His lab focuses primarily on Cytoskeletal Assembly and Dynamics, or how different cell types dynamically rearrange their cytoskeletal structures to govern cell shape, movement, and division. 

Using a multi-disciplinary approach that combines methods from genetics, biochemistry, live-cell imaging, and others; Dr. Goode works towards determining the structure and function of the 'machinery' that underpins these dynamic changes in cells.

Eve Marder

Eve Marder
Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience

Eve Marder earned her bachelor’s degree at Brandeis, received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, in 1974 and did postdoctoral work at the École normale supérieure in Paris.

The past president of the Society for Neuroscience, she is the Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience and head of the Division of Science at Brandeis. Her honors include membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the 2013 Gruber Prize in Neuroscience.

Marder researches the dynamics of small neural circuits and was instrumental in demonstrating that neuronal circuits are not “hard-wired” but can be reconfigured by neuromodulatory neurons and substances. She currently studies a relatively simple network of some 30 large neurons found in the gut of lobsters and crabs — a small yet elegant window into humans’ unfathomably rich nervous system, home to billions of neurons and trillions of interconnections.


Seth Fraden
Professor of Physics 

Seth Fraden earned his bachelor's degree at the University of California, Berkley, and his PhD here at Brandeis in 1987.

His honors include the National Science Foundation Fellowship from 1987-1989, and the Innovation Prize of the International Organization of Biological Crystalization in 2008.

The focus of Seth Fraden and his group is to understand the relation between interparticle interactions and phase transitions in colloidal suspensions such as genetically engineered viruses, latex, proteins, and polymers.

Combining experiment, computer simulation, and theory, Fraden examines the role of entropy in driving disorder-to-order transitions. Other major objectives are to understand the physics of protein crystallization and the development of microfluidic based high throughput crystallization devices.


Jané Kondev
Professor of Physics 

Earning his bachelor's degree from the University of Belgrade and his PhD from Cornell Univeristy, Jané Kondev is a theoretical physicist who works primarily on problems in molecular and cell biology. 

Research in the Kondev group is driven by quantitative experiments on single molecules and single cells, which are typically performed in biology labs the group collaborates with.

The goal is to provide a mathematical framework that can explain the available quantitative data, and makes testable predictions that can guide new experiments.  Members of the group are inspired by the new vistas that open up when life's processes are described in the language of theoretical physics, thus providing new insights about outstanding problems in biology.  


Leslie Griffith
Professor of Biology, and Director of the Volen National Center for Complex Systems

Leslie Griffith received her bachelor's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and both her PhD and MD from Stanford University. Her research activity focuses on how the nervous system integrates information and how we behave as a result — she is primarily interested in memory formation and sleep.

She studies behavior at the biochemical, cellular and organismal levels using flies as her research subjects. Flies, like humans, have basic behaviors (such as locomotion and reproductive behaviors) that can be altered by the animal’s internal state or by exposure to external cues.

Dr. Griffith's lab uses video and automated monitoring systems to assess locomotion, circadian rhythms, sleep and courtship among their flies, whose susceptibility to biochemical manipulation make them ideal subjects for this integrative approach.


Daniel Oprian 
Louis and Bessie Rosenfield Professor of Biochemistry

Daniel Oprian earned all three of his degrees from the University of Michigan. He specializes in the structure-function studies of visual pigments and other cell surface receptors.

His laboratory is involved in the structure and function of G protein-coupled receptors with particular focus on the subgroup of receptors known as visual pigments. The pigments are major components of rod and cone photoreceptor cells and form the basis of phototransduction in the vertebrate retina.

As is typical of G protein-coupled receptors, the visual pigments are integral membrane proteins composed of seven transmembrane helical segments. However, what is atypical is that each pigment is bound covalently to a small molecule ligand, 11-cis-retinal, which is a chromophore for the absorption of light.


Judith Herzfeld
Professor of Biophysical Chemistry   

Judith Herzfeld received her university education at Barnard, MIT, and Harvard.  Prior to moving to Brandeis, she served briefly on the faculty at Amherst College and for a decade on the faculty at Harvard Medical School.  

Known for her work in statistical thermodynamics, solid state NMR, and chemical education, she has been elected a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences.

Building Buoyancy:  How Does Pond Scum Float?

The title question has intrigued scientists studying aquatic microorganisms for over 100 years.  This talk will illustrate the hierarchy of subcellular levels at which the question is addressed, the probes that are used at each level, the sometimes surprising answers that result, and the new ideas and questions that they generate.  An early surprise was that the cells build their floatation units entirely of protein ... no lipid, no carbohydrate. The most recent surprise is that this protein makes use of the same assembly motifs as the amyloid fibrils found in diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and Type II Diabetes.