Sciences

Biology | Biochemistry | Chemistry | Computer Science | Math |
Neuroscience | Physics

Biology

For more information about research opportunities in the Biology Dept. please follow this link.

Susan Birren
Research Interests: Developmental neurobiology
Student Qualifications: First year chemistry, enrollment in BIO22b
Responsibilities: Assist with lab chores, participate in laboratory research in developmental neurobiology.

Paul Garrity

Research Interests: Molecular biology and genetics of thermal and chemical sensation and behavior.

Student Qualifications: Enrollment in Bio18 and Bio22
Responsibilities: Research in molecular genetics and assisting with lab maintenance.

Bruce Goode
Research Interests: Cytoskeleton, cell morphogenesis, and cell motility.
Qualifications: Completion of BIO22
Responsibilities: Students will work with a graduate student or postdoc in the lab, and develop a research project that has the potential to become fully independent and/or lead to a senior thesis project.

Jim Haber
Research Interests: Repair of broken chromosomes. Genetics and molecular biology of yeast meiotic and mitotic recombination. DNA damage responses and checkpoints. Control of recombination donor accessibility (donor preference in mating-type switching). Chromosome dynamics.
Qualifications: BIO22
Responsibilities: To develop original research usually alongside a grad student or postdoc.

Liz Hedstrom
Research Interests:  Mechanisms of enzyme catalysis as exemplified by IMP dehydrogenase. Design of novel antibiotics targeting IMPDH for the treatment of cryptosporidiosis, tuberculosis and tularemia.  Investigation of the pathological mechanism of IMPDH-linked retinal degeneration. Characterization of small molecules that induce protein degradation.
Student Qualifications: Sophomores who have completed at least one year of chemistry are preferred, but we're willing to consider freshmen or juniors in special cases.
Responsibilities: Students are trained for approximately one semester under the supervision of a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. After that time they will then begin their own project.  Students are expected to work for two summers and complete and honors thesis.
Lab is full, check again in the fall.

John Lisman                                                                                                                                         
Research Interests
: Molecular and cellular mechanisms of memory and schizophrenia.
Student Qualifications
: Must have completed or be enrolled in these courses: BIO22 and BIO18.
Responsibilities
: Learning the basics of lab equipment use, helping with lab chores, doing independent research under the supervision of grad students and post docs. 

Nelson Lau
Research Interests: Gene regulation and RNA interference in germ cells
Student Qualifications: Completion of BIO22a.
Responsibilities: Research in molecular biology, frog ovuluation and fertilization, and assisting with lab maintenance.

Susan Lovett
Research Interests: DNA repair and mutagenesis, bacterial genetics and physiology.
Student Qualifications: Freshmen chemistry, enrollment in BIOL22. Prefer completion of BIOL22a.  
Responsibilities: Participate in lab research in conjunction with a graduate student, research associate or fellow. Attend and report to group research meetings.  

Paul Miller
Research Interests: Computational and theoretical neuroscience.
Student Qualifications
: Strong computational modeling skills (e.g. experience in one or more of Matlab, C, C++, Fortran, or similar). 
Responsibilities: Modeling of systems of neurons or intracellular processes.

James Morris
Research Interests: Epigenetics and biology education.
Student Qualifications: Biology 18 and 22.
Responsibilities: Drosophila genetics, molecular biology, genomics.

Sacha Nelson
Research Interests: Physiology and gene expression in the neocortex; Mouse models of epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders.
Student Qualifications: Students with a background in computer programming are especially encouraged to apply; other students should have completed Freshman chemistry, enrollment in BIO22a.
Responsibilities: Students begin work alongside a graduate student or postdoc. Committed, responsible students have the opportunity to develop their own research projects. Priority is given to students interested in working full time over one or two summers and in completing an honors thesis.

Daniela Nicastro

Research Interests: Electron tomography of cellular and macromolecular structures.
Qualifications
: Juniors and Seniors; biology or biochemistry majors.
Responsibilities: Image processing and cell biological projects. 

Piali Sengupta (Volen)
Research Interests: Developmental neurobiology in C. elegans.
Student Qualifications:  Bio22 and Bio18. A student who is currently enrolled in these courses may also apply. 
Responsibilities: Students will work with a graduate student or postdoc in the lab initially on a research project. Eventually, they will carry out a senior thesis project independently.

Neil Simister

Research Interests: Molecular immunology. Antibody transport.
Student Qualifications: Students should have completed Biol 18 or have worked in a life science research lab.
Responsibilities: Students will use mammalian cell culture and molecular biology methods to investigate functions of an antibody transporter.

Gina Turrigiano (Volen)
Research Interests: Experience-dependent plasticity of cortical synapses and circuits.
Student Qualifications: Students must have some prior lab experience (i.e. chemistry lab course, bio labs).
Responsibilities: Learning the basics of lab equipment use, help with lab chores, do independent research under the supervision of grad students or postdocs.

Larry Wangh
Research Interests: Molecular controls of DNA replication in Xenopus egg.
Student Qualifications: Sophomores who have done well in Introductory Chemistry and have a keen interest in laboratory based research.
Responsibilities: Students begin with structured projects under supervision of a mentor, but are expected to carry out quite independent laboratory research by the time they reach their junior year and undertake Senior honors research. The goal is to have every student publish at least one paper, sometimes as a first author. Students are required to write a substantial introduction to their Senior honors thesis in which they review the literature thoroughly. Most of the students succeed and graduate with high or highest honors and go on to careers in science of medicine.

Biochemistry

Jeff Gelles
Research Interests: Mechanisms of mechanoenzymes. Stochastic processes in single enzyme molecules. Light microscopy as a tool to study enzyme mechanisms.
Student Qualifications: Students should have an interest in science and/or engineering. Students can start in this lab as early as their Freshman year and as late as the end of their Junior year.
Responsibilities: Students work directly on research projects either in support roles (for those with little previous research experience) or as more independent researchers (for those with experience from other labs or who have gained experience in this lab). Most students working in the lab end up writing an honors thesis based on their research project.

Steve Goldstein
Research Interests: Ion channels in health and disease - heart,nervous system and muscle. Single molecule and ensemble electrophysiology,spectroscopy, and microscopy augmented by protein, phage and molecular techniques.

Niko Grigorieff
Research Interests: High resolution electron cryo-micrscopy of macromolecular machines and complexes.
Student Qualifications: Experience with designing and writing computer programs (Fortran, C, C++, Matlab).
Responsibilities: Learning basic image processing for electron microscopy, designing user interfaces for custom lab software, maintaining software.

Daniel Krummel 
Research Interests: Eukaryotic RNA processing mechanisms.  
Student Qualifications: Students should have a strong interest in science and/or engineering, willing to work hard, and be excited by learning. Students start in the lab as early as their first year and as late as the beginning of their Junior year. Students usually work full-time (paid) during summers before junior and senior years.  
Responsibilities: Initially, all students work directly on research projects in support roles. Over time, students become more independent researchers and their project develops into an honors thesis. 

Chris Miller
Research Interests: Structure and function of ion channel proteins. Membrane transport and mechanisms of electrical excitation.
Student Qualifications: Must be honors major in Biochemistry. Must be willing to work full-time (paid) during summers before junior and senior years, along with taking 99 courses during junior and senior years.
Responsibilities: Basic biochemical research project under supervision of a professor.

Daniel Oprian
Research Interests: Structure-function studies of visual pigments and other cell surface receptors.
Student Responsibilities: Students are encouraged to join the lab early (freshman or sophomore) beginning with lab support work the first year and moving to independent research projects afterward and eventually completing an honors thesis.

Gregory Petsko
Research Interests: Protein crystallography, especially direct observation of transient species by low-temperature and Laue methods. Protein dynamics. Protein engineering. Yeast genetics. The biology of the quiescent state (G0) of the eukaryotic cell. Enzyme evolution. Neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases.
Student Qualifications: Ideally, general and organic chemistry lab, plus biology lab. In practice, dedication and willingness to work hard is the most important qualification.
Responsibilities: Everything ranging from cloning and protein expression to basic crystallography, enzyme kinetics, and some computational work. Depends on the skills and the interest.

Dagmar Ringe
Research Interests: Protein crystallography and structural enzymology. Rational drug design.
Student Qualifications: Some knowledge of laboratory procedures.
Responsibilities: Tasks on a continuum from lab support for experiments being done by others to independent projects.

Douglas Theobald
Research Interests: Structure and function of single-stranded nucleic acid-protein complexes Likelihood and Bayesian techniques in structural bioinformatics  Evolution of molecular structures
Qualifications: An interest in biochemistry, molecular structures, and evolution.

Chemistry

For more information about research opportunities in the Chemistry Dept. please follow this link
Jeffrey Agar
Research Interests
: Development of mass spectrometry methods for the comprehensive identification of proteins and their post-translationalmodifications. Current projects involve the role of protein modification in the memory and neurodegeneration.
Responsibilities
: Try to do novel mass spectrometry or disease related research.

Milos Dolnik
Research Interests: Biochemical and cellular basis of behavior using Drosophila as a model system.
Student Qualifications: Sophomores who have had or are enrolled in genetics and are contemplating a career in research are preferred, but will consider freshmen or juniors in special cases.
Responsibilities: Students are trained for approximately one semester under the supervision of a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. After that time they usually will take on an independent project. Students are expected to work for two summers and complete an honors thesis. 
Lab is full, check again in the fall.

Irving Epstein
Research Interests: Experimental and theoretical studies of oscillating reactions, chaos, waves and pattern formation in reaction diffusion systems. Mathematical modeling of biochemical kinetics and neural systems. 
Student Qualifications: Minimum is Chem 11 and 18 (or 15 and 19). Computer programming skills, physical chemistry, calculus, statistics are valuable but not necessary.
Student Responsibilities: Experiments (and possibly computer simulations) on oscillating reactions and pattern formation in chemical systems, initially under the close supervision of a faculty member or postdoc, later with more independent responsibility.

Bruce Foxman
Research Interests: X-ray crystallography; reactions in crystals; programming/design of approaches to crystallographic computing
Student Qualifications: At least one semester of first-year chemistry.
Responsibilities: Synthesis of new crystalline solids that react upon application of heat, light and/or radiation.  Design of new techniques for crystal growth.  Preparation of "movies" that characterize the molecular motion in a reacting solid material. Design of computer programs that use artificial intelligence to solve structural problems.
 
Thomas Pochapsky
Research Interests: Self-assembly of chemical and biological systems. Transient interactions in solution by NMR. NMR of soluble proteins. Protein stability and folding by NMR and mutagenesis. Structure and function of metal-containing enzymes and proteins.
Student Qualifications: Students who have taken freshman chemistry (Chem 11/18) and who are no further along than their sophomore year are preferred.
Responsibilities: Basic research tasks, chemical synthesis, protein expression/ purification, DNA manipulations.

Jason Pontrello
Research Interests: Synthetic polymers to control biomolecular interactions in Huntington's Disease and HIV. Chemical Education.
Qualifications: Most students have completed Organic Chemistry and Lab courses.
Student Responsibilities: Students with interest in chemical education will be able to choose from a variety of ongoing research projects related to Organic Lecture and Lab curriculum development. Student interested in
laboratory research begin with standard reactions to become familiar with lab techniques and equipment. Students then work with senior undergraduate researchers to advance research projects in a range of
areas such as 1) Huntington's Disease, 2) HIV, 3) Metalloprotease Inhibitors, 4) Terpene synthesis.

Barry Snider
Research Interests: Synthetic organic chemistry.  Development of new synthetic methods.  Total synthesis of natural products
Student Qualifications: Students should have taken or be currently enrolled in organic chemistry lecture and lab (25ab and 29ab)
Responsibilities: Synthesis of new organic compounds and their characterization by NMR, IR and mass spectrometry.

Christine Thomas
Research Interests: Synthetic inorganic, bioinorganic and organometallic chemistry.
Student Qualifications
: At least one semester of organic chemistry and knowledge of basic synthetic and purification techniques is recommended, but not necessarily required.
Responsibilities: Synthesis of new organic and inorganic compounds. Characterization of compounds using NMR, IR, and UV-Vis spectroscopies. Structural determination using single crystal X-ray diffraction. Presentation of results in both formal and informal group meetings. 

Computer Science

For more information about research opportunities in the Computer Science Dept. please follow this link.
Tim Hickey
Research Interests: 3D Animation. Scientific Visualization. Collaborative Software.
Student Qualifications: Major in Computer Science.
Responsibilities: Weekly group meetings, programming, software development.

Pengyu Hong
Research Interests
: Computational biology. Image processing. Statistical machine learning.
Student Qualifications
: Applicants should be good programmers.
Responsibilities:  To implement algorithms and design graphics user interfaces.

Sophia Malamud
Research Interests: Linguistics.
Student Qualifications:  Ling 100 is necessary; potentially other linguistics or computer science courses depending on the task. For one of the projects, knowledge of Russian at native or near-native level.
Responsibilities: Data entry, data collection, data analysis using computer tools.

Liuba Shrira
Research Interests: Distributed Systems, Reliable and Scalable Storage Systems.
Student Qualifications: CS31a, CS146a or cs147a.
Responsibilities: Design, implement and evaluate a component of a research system, or implement and evaluate an application for an experimental system, or  survey research literature on state-of the art in a given topic. 

Math

Ruth Charney
Research Interests: Geometric group theory. Topology.
Student Qualifications: Completion of Math 23b and one of the following: Math 28a, 30a, or 34a.
Responsibilities: Investigations of problems in topology or group theory.

Bong Lian
Research Interests: Representation theory. Calabi-Yau geometry. String theory.
Student Qualifications: A math major at least in his/her Junior year with consistently solid grades.
Responsibilities: Depends on the student. The work could involve computing.

Daniel Ruberman
Research Interests: Geometric topology and Gauge Theory.
Student Qualifications: Core upper-level math courses such as 23b, 30, 40 and possibly 32a and/or 34a. Students who work with Prof. Ruberman should have an interest in thinking about geometric objects such as knots and surfaces.
Responsibilities: Students are expected to learn the basic geometric ideas involved , and to learn how to turn these into concrete calculations. Depending on the project, these could easily be computer calculations, and students are expected to master the relevant software.

Neuroscience

Paul Dizio
Research Interests: Neural control of human posture, movement and spatial orientation.  Active projects include biomechanical, physiological and systems level computational modeling of complex, coordinated movements; motor learning in adults, typically developing children and children with autism; adaptation to unusual force environments such as artificial gravity and virtual environments; brain-computer interface technology.
Student Qualifications: Preference given to students with experience in laboratory courses and strong skills in mathematics, physics, computer programming (MATLAB, Python, C++).
Responsibilities: Assist with data collection, including use of motion tracking equipment, force-rendering robots,  EMG and EEG recording systems.  Assist with data analysis using custom algorithms as well as standard statistical analysis and graphical presentation software.

Leslie Griffith
Research Interests: Biochemical and cellular basis of behavior using Drosophila as a model system. Student Qualifications: Sophomores who have had or are enrolled in genetics and are contemplating a career in research are preferred, but will consider freshmen or juniors in special cases.
Responsibilities: Students are trained for approximately one semester under the supervision of a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. After that time they usually will take on an independent project. Students are expected to work for two summers and complete an honors thesis.
Lab is full, check again in the fall.

Eve Marder
Research Interests: Neurotransmitter modulation of neural circuits.
Student Qualifications: Major in Neuroscience or Biology.
Responsibilities: Students will be matched with a set of tasks after a brief interview.

Stephen Van Hooser
Research interests: Experience-dependent development of brain circuits; computational modeling
Student Qualifications:  Either some prior biology or chemistry lab experience, OR computer programming experience
Responsibilities: Learning the basics of lab equipment use, help with lab chores, do independent research under the supervision of grad students or postdocs.

Physics

For more information about research opportunities in the Physics Dept. please follow this link.

Jim Bensinger 
Research Interest:  Experimental High Energy Physics.  
We are developing, building and testing opto-electronics equipment for the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.  This work is for planned upgrades of the experiment.  Student will work physicist, the electrical and mechanical engineers, and other student in our research group.


Craig Blocker
Research Interests: Experimental high-energy physics.
Student Qualifications: Knowledge of C++ and Unix are often helpful, but not required
Responsibilities: To assist simulation of possible particle physics measurements; analysis of detector commissioning data.

Zvonimir Dogic
Research Interests
: Soft condensed matter physics. Biological physics.
Responsibilities
: Students carry out independent research projects in the broad area of material science and biological physics. The techniques used include protein purification, optical microscopy, theoretical modeling etc.

Michael Hagan
Research Interests: Computation and theory in biological physics.
Student Qualifications
: Experience with calculus and differential equations.
Responsibilities
: Tasks involving computational and/or theoretical biophysics, most likely programming.

Matthew Headrick
Research Interests: Theoretical high-energy and gravitational physics; string theory and related areas of quantum field theory, general relativity, and geometry.
Student Qualifications: Completion of Math 22, 32a, 37a and Physics 30, 31, 40
Responsibilities: Theoretical research related to string theory (no prior knowledge of   string theory required), likely including a computational component.  

Seth Fraden
Research Interests:  Experimental high-energy physics.
Student Qualifications: Major in Physics, Chemistry or Computer Science.
Responsibilities: Our lab is focused on three areas of materials research and is part of the National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Brandeis. 

  • One area involves "active emulsions", a new class of materials in which oscillating chemical reactions are encapsulated into micon-sized droplets. The long term goal of this project is to develop new materials that contain their own energy source and utilize chemical energy to communicate, compute and generate mechanical motion.
  • A second area involves bionanotechnology. We genetically engineer viruses and study their self-assembly into liquid crystalline phases using theory, computer simulations and experiment.
  • A third area involves technology development. Our lab is engaged in "lab-on-a-chip" development. We are reducing the size chemistry and biology labs to the micron scale by using the same manufacturing methods that has allowed the semiconductor industry to produce computers whose power double every two years. This technology, known as "soft lithography", is transforming the way chemistry, biology, and the physics of soft condensed matter are practiced.
  • These projects involve design, construction and testing of microfluidic chips, simulation of the physics of the devices using finite element computer simulations, interfacing chips with computers and automating data acquisition based on LabView. The current focus of the lab is building chips for protein crystallization, chemical communication and determining the properties of biological materials such as viruses, DNA and collagen. See elsie.brandeis.edu for more information of our research.

David Roberts
Research Interests: Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics. Radio astronomy.
Student Qualifications: Students must be interested in physics, and have completed at least one year of physics and calculus. In special cases first year students are considered.
Responsibilities: Research in astrophysics usually involves using computer programs to analyze data taken in observatories located across the country and around the world. Some advanced students perform theoretical analysis of the results.

Hermann Wellenstein
Research Interests: Experimental high-energy physics.
Student Qualifications: Most of the projects require a technical or science background or aptitude.  In the past all students have been Physics, Chemistry,  Computer Science, or Math majors.