Newsmakers

Lisa M. Lynch, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, has been appointed to a second five-year term as dean and Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Economic and Social Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. During her tenure, Lynch has increased graduate-student financial support and fostered greater interaction among faculty, research staff and students. She also led the creation of the school’s new strategic plan, which includes a diversity enhancement initiative.

A new documentary by Oscar-winning director Freida Mock (“Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision”) focuses on Anita Hill, senior adviser to the provost and professor of social policy, law and women’s studies. “Anita,” which premièred at the Sundance Film Festival in January, covers Hill’s testimony at the 1991 U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas as well as the hearings’ aftermath. In separate news, a traveling lecture series named for Hill began in January. The first speaker at the Anita Hill Annual Lecture on Gender Justice, held in its inaugural year on the Brandeis campus, was Juhu Thukral, director of law and advocacy at the Opportunity Agenda, which works to protect the human rights of women.

Susan Birren’s tenure as dean of arts and sciences has been extended until 2016. Birren, a professor of neurobiology, assumed the deanship in July 2011. She told the student newspaper The Justice that the extended term will allow her to continue to pursue substantive goals. “I want to accomplish a lot,” she said, “all of which has to do with providing support and strengthening the academic mission for students and faculty.”

Richard Lansing, professor of Italian studies and comparative literature — along with Teodolinda Barolini, professor of Italian at Columbia University — received the Modern Language Association’s Scaglione Publication Award for a manuscript titled “Dante’s Lyrics: Poems of Youth and the Vita Nuova.” Lansing, who will end his Brandeis career this year, provided new translations of the poems for the volume.

Jennifer Marusic, assistant professor of philosophy, has been named a Marie Curie Fellow for her research project in the history of philosophy titled “Three Conceptions of Judgment in Early Modern Philosophy.” The fellowship, sponsored by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, will allow Marusic to conduct research in Berlin. Her project centers on the ideas of John Locke, René Descartes and David Hume.

The International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN) has appointed Susan S. Lanser, a professor of English, women’s and gender studies, and comparative literature, to a leadership role. The appointment is part of a four-year cycle in which Lanser enters as second vice president and eventually becomes the group’s president. The ISSN is a nonprofit association of scholars who explore narrative’s elements, techniques and forms; its relation to other modes of discourse; and its power and influence in cultures past and present.

Christine Thomas, assistant professor of chemistry, has won the 2013 Alberta Gotthardt and Henry Strage Award for Aspiring Young Science Faculty. Thomas’ research uses creative strategies to design catalysts that have the potential to promote the multi-electron, multiproton conversion of abundant small molecules into useful fuels. Her long-term research goal is to develop solutions to the nation’s energy-generation and -storage problems.

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