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UDR RECOGNITION PRIZE WINNERS DECEMBER 2014

We were once again impressed with all our applications for our second UDR Recognition Prize and have selected two winners:

Emily Greenwald, Health: Science, Society and Policy

On November 2nd, the HSSP department held a cooking competition based on Emily Greenwald’s inspiration to have students learn by experience about food inequality, nutrition, and working within a budget and minimal resources to make a meal. Fifteen competitors split into three teams, composed primarily of Brandeis students from TBA Improv, NaturaLiving, Waltham Group Hunger and Homelessness, the Nutrition, Lifestyle, and Health JBS, and foodie-friends.  Dr. Shostak, Dean Adams, Chef LaFleur (the Executive Chef for Sodexo), and HSSP Major Sophie Brickman acted as judges. Speakers from NaturaLiving talked about cooking and eating healthily on a budget, an HSSP major spoke about obesity and the connection to lack of access to both knowledge and healthy food, a second HSSP Major discussed food mapping, Biology Professor Elaine Lai spoke about diet and health, and Marilyn Lee-Tom of the Waltham Community Day Center spoke about the obstacles her clients face. Roosevelt Fellow Ian Carroll hosted the event and Community Advisor and Improv Star Edan Chen-Zion filmed. About twenty people watched the contest.

Each team had to cook a healthy, tasty meal but with different resources to show different obstacles families face to prepare a meal. One team had $15 to buy food based on supermarket prices, and to cook, they had a stove and microwave. The second team had $10, an oven and microwave, but halfway through the competition they lost use of their electricity because "the family could not pay the electric bill." The third team had a microwave and $10 to spend. The teams had an hour to cook, while the host explained what they were doing, asked why they made certain decisions, spoke with the judges about their experiences with food, cooking, and outreach, and introduced the outside speakers.  Each team was then judged on health, taste, and the creativity of their meals. They presented their team's challenges—financial, resources, and other obstacles—as well as how they chose to meet them.

The project also had a snack table set up by snack types with nutritional and price per serving information placed in front of each snack to show that healthier options are significantly more expensive and less accessible, with nutrition labels made by HSSP UDR Dani Nurick and recipe pamphlets by NaturaLiving member Jaclyn Kellner. The audience again could see how difficult it is to maintain a healthy kitchen with limited resources and/or on a limited budget, and better understand the wide variety of issues that influence food inequality and the struggles of families to provide adequate, healthy meals.

Emily took a creative, hands-on approach to teach about food inequality and how diet affects health. She brought people together to "shop" from a pantry, make a meal, and be judged based on whether they successfully created a healthy, tasty meal. The audience could see the teams struggle while learning from speakers with different perspectives on how food and lack of access can affect people's health. Both audience and participants learned viscerally about food inequality in America and why many families struggle on a tight budget, the SNAP program, or in low-income or rural areas without full-service grocery stores.

Neuroscience Team: David Alpert, Jessica Young, Julia Zaltsman

The Neuroscience UDRs teamed up with the Neuroscience club BeWise (Brandeis Encourages Women in Science and Engineering) to bring together a career panel event called “Pizza with the Professors.”  The basic science professors (Physics and Biology, for example), neuroscience lab PI’s, and graduate students were invited to talk about their journeys in the research world and beyond. The event took place on Wednesday, November 19th, from 5-6:20PM in Rosentiel 118. Over forty students attended, which was a huge turnout for Neuroscience.

Several steps made the event so successful; first, a variety of panelists were invited so that the students from each undergraduate year in the audience could relate to and learn from them. The topics ranged from getting spots in labs to the challenges of academia, with fun stories and hardships in between. It was great to hear about the pivotal moments in the professors’ lives, and the personal reasons and motivations behind their choices.

The goal was to get together a semi-informal panel of speakers to whom the students could relate and who could relate to the students, speak comfortably with them, and share stories about their lives, so students see we can also be successful. It can be tough in science to speak with professors who are so well known in their field or who teach large lecture courses, so it was especially important to see underclassmen would ask questions in this more relaxed setting.

The timing also made a big difference. The UDR Neuroscience team made sure it was NOT during recitation times for the basic courses, and that the event was located in the science complex to make it easier for the professors to attend. Both timing and location can be roadblocks to student and professor attendance. David, Jessica, Julia and their co-organizers also capitalized on the time afterwards to speak with individual students about academic career planning and courses for next semester, as the event was purposefully set up during the registration period.

The Neuroscience UDRs offer the following tips to run a successful UDR event.  It was useful to work with a club that shared the UDRs’ mission, which in this case is to help students navigate the science world.  It was crucial that the club members and UDRs met weekly before the event in order to stay on track, keep everyone working together and motivated. Lastly, everyone had fun with it. Together, they created some interesting questions for the panelists to answer that they would enjoy learning more about. And, of course, there was pizza!