Sen. Charles Schumer to give first Cohen lecture

The late science professor was deeply interested in the interface of science, politics

Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Professor Saul G. Cohen

New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer will deliver the inaugural Saul G. Cohen Memorial Lecture when he visits campus May 6.

Schumer's talk - "Can the United States Remain Ascendant?" - is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Shapiro Campus Center Theater. He will conduct a question-and-answer session following his 30-minute lecture. A reception will be held at 4:15 p.m. in the atrium.

The Cohen Lecture was established through the generosity of the longtime Brandeis science professor's family and friends, and reflects his wide variety of interests. Future lectures will feature leaders from the worlds of academia, arts, business and industry, government and politics, law and science discussing important topics of the day.

"We are delighted that Senator Schumer has accepted our invitation to deliver the inaugural Saul G. Cohen Memorial Lecture," said Cohen's daughter, Elisabeth, who praised Schumer's "clarion call for public service and his ideas about making government work for everyday people."

Schumer, 60, has served as a senator from New York since 1998. Prior to that, he represented the state's 9th Congressional District for 18 years. He chairs the Joint Economic Committee and Committee on Rules and Administration.

Cohen, an instant-film pioneer who achieved a number of firsts in his 36 years on the Brandeis faculty, died on April 24, 2010, at the age of 93.

In the 1940s, he worked alongside Edwin Land of the Polaroid Corp. to make instant film a reality. Cohen developed the organic chemistry reactions needed to stabilize pictures and create instant film.

Denied teaching jobs at other institutions because of anti-Semitism, he joined the Brandeis faculty in 1950 and later became the first chair of the chemistry department and the science school, the first dean of faculty, and the first University Professor. He was instrumental in establishing Brandeis' graduate programs.

He received the American Chemical Society's James F. Norris Award in 1972. When he retired from Brandeis in 1986, he was awarded an honorary degree by the University.

A true citizen of the world, Cohen had broad interests beyond the realm of science. He studied a variety of languages in depth, including Hebrew for 12 years and Latin and Greek for six. He was deeply concerned with the interplay between science and politics.

Co-sponsors of the Cohen Lecture include the College Democrats, the Democrats for America, the Brandeis Department of Community Service, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, the Hiatt Career Center, the Waltham Group and the Gordon Center for American Public Policy.

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