Around Campus

Brandeis scientists net major honorsPosted: Feb. 27, 2017
Mike Lovett

Leslie Griffith

Brandeis researchers have received a prestigious award and major fellowship.

Leslie C. Griffith, Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Volen National Center for Complex Systems, has received the SASTRA–Obaid Siddiqi Award for excellence in life sciences.

The prize is given by the Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA) University in Thanjavur, India.

In an email to Griffith, SASTRA's Vice-Chancellor R. Sethuraman said the award "is our humble tribute to Professor Obaid Siddiqi who has provided relentless service to science and technology" and made "far–reaching and outstanding contributions in the" life sciences. Siddiqi was a pioneering molecular biologist, outstanding mentor and founder of the Molecular Biology Unit of the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research.

"It is a great honor to receive this award," Griffith said. "I was privileged to meet Dr. Siddiqi a couple times, and have always admired his work in building India's stature as a scientific leader."

Griffith will receive the honor on February 28, 2017.

Assistant professor of biology Amy S. Lee has received a 2017 Sloan Research Fellowship. The award is given to an early-career researcher who shows incredible promise. Lee's work focuses on how gene regulation occurs through novel mechanisms of mRNA translation. Winners of the fellowship receive $60,000 to be used as they wish to further their research.

"Early-career recognition can make a significant difference in the life of a scientist," said Daniel L. Goroff, Vice President at the Sloan Foundation and Director of the Sloan Research Fellowship program. "The rigorous selection process and the prominence of past awardees make the Sloan Research Fellowships one of the most prestigious awards available to young researchers."
Four faculty awarded Mandel Center grantsPosted: Feb. 14, 2017

The Mandel Center for the Humanities has awarded four members of the Brandeis faculty with Mandel Faculty Grants in the Humanities. Each of these $10,000 grants, supported by a generous gift from the Mandel Foundation, supports a member of the Brandeis faculty working in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.

The purpose of the Mandel Faculty Grants is to support "the humanities in the world," a broad invitation to Brandeis scholars to think creatively about how their own humanistic inquiries can shape, inform, and improve everyday life and experiences in the world today.

Recipients will use their funds during the 2017 spring term through the summer of 2017, and then present a talk about their projects at the Mandel Center’s faculty lunch symposium during the 2017-18 academic year.

The following faculty members were awarded grants:

Dmitry Troyanovsky (Theater Arts), Marius von Mayenburg’s “The Ugly One” 

The project is a Chinese language production of Marius von Mayenburg’s “The Ugly One” at the Shanghai Drama Arts Center.  

Von Mayenburg is a contemporary German playwright whose inventive writing examines themes of power, brutality, and greed. Obsession with status and physical perfection takes on grotesque dimensions in “The Ugly One.” Lette, an unsightly but talented engineer, undergoes extensive plastic surgery to prove his professional and human worth. This project uses the play to investigate issues of identity and unstable boundaries we construct between ourselves and others."

Ulka Anjaria (English), “Lopsided Beings”: Literature at the Limits of Global Capitalism

This project looks at literature and capitalism in the global peripheries, with a focus on Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius, colonized by both France and England, has long been a sugar cane plantation economy, but has over the past few decades expanded its EPZ (Export Processing Zone), making it possible for multinational companies to open factories on the island with little to no taxation and providing work for Mauritians. However, the grueling factory work and the continuing marginalization of poor Mauritians has meant that this factory work is far from transformative. Mauritian writers have responded to the growth of the EPZ by showing how workers at the bottom end of global companies such as Nike and Ralph Lauren feel like "lopsided beings" who bleed to support the wealth of others. Through a study of contemporary Mauritian literature located in and around the EPZ, this project offers a new perspective on global capitalism from one of its most forgotten peripheries.

Robin Feuer Miller (GRALL) and Matthew Fraleigh (GRALL), Kazuko's Letters from Japan: Love in a Time of Upheaval

Prominent Japanese sociologist and thinker Kazuko Tsurumi enjoyed a spirited and passionate relationship with Lewis Feuer from the time the two met in New York, where she was a graduate student at Columbia and Feuer taught at City College. Even as the Pacific War forced them apart, she continued to write to him for several decades. This project will result in an annotated edition of her correspondence with Feuer, using archival material at Brandeis as well as in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Sarah Mead (Music), Music, Sound and Text

This project will explore the convergence of three 16th-century artforms: poetry, composition, and luthiery. Using a set of "viole da gamba" based on a Northern Italian instrument from the 1580’s, her ensemble Nota Bene (joined by singers who specialize in 16th-c performance-practice) will undertake an immersive study of a set of madrigals of similar provenance. Working with period instruments and original notation, their aim is to gain new insights about contemporary sound ideals. Professor Ramie Targoff’s research on the female poet whose words were set in these pieces will further inform the ensemble’s understanding of the aesthetic of this particular moment in musical history.

'Brandeis Conversation' Considers Significance of Election for Jewish CommunityPosted: Jan. 27, 2017

Brandeis students, faculty and staff gathered the evening before the presidential inauguration for “an honest conversation about our concerns and our hopes,” according to Professor Jon A. Levisohn (NEJS/Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education), who moderated this Seminar in Contemporary Jewish Life event before an audience of about 40.

A panel of faculty and students presented a range of views on the election of Donald Trump at this January 19 event. Dr. Rachel Fish, associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, reported that friends in her home state of Tennessee are Trump supporters. This contrasts sharply with what she hears from Jewish friends in the northeast, an indication that “the two sides are speaking past each other.” This is supported by data presented by Professor Len Saxe, director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, which show that Jews voted overwhelmingly (71%, according to exit polls) for Hillary Clinton, in sharp contrast to other white ethnic and religious groups, such as Protestants, 58% of whom voted for Trump.

Professor Stephen Whitfield (American Studies) said that the United States has, until now, honored George Washington’s 1790 pledge to the Newport, RI Jewish community that the nation will give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Of the election, Professor Whitfield said that “In its ugliness, viciousness, divisiveness, encouragement to violence… something here has been breached that I don’t think has happened before.”

Many in attendance were dismayed by the antisemitism on display by Trump supporters during the campaign. Isaac Kurtz ’17 said that within the Jewish community there is a lack of agreement between the left and right on what antisemitism is, so that sometimes it is “used as a political tool to discredit the other side.”

Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, of NEJS and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, noted “the breathtaking misogyny” expressed toward Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Professor Fishman said that Clinton’s actual history was overwhelmed by false narratives, a phenomenon familiar to Jews, who “have always suffered from fake news” such as the blood libel.

Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas, chief diversity office and vice-president for diversity, closed the discussion with words from poet Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” He said that he is hearing similar conversations taking place among Latinos. “I don’t know what’s coming,” he said, “but we need to be prepared.”

The Seminar in Contemporary Jewish Life is the meeting ground for members of the Brandeis community to explore the culture, education, politics, art, literature, history and sociology of contemporary Jews and Judaism.

Brandeis awards research leaves to senior facultyPosted: Jan. 18, 2017

Brandeis University has awarded four senior faculty research leaves for 2017-2018. These competitive awards provide tenured Arts and Sciences faculty with a non-teaching semester and research funds to allow them to focus on a scholarly or creative project. Faculty present a brief summary of the work accomplished at the end of the leave. Below are this year’s recipients and the titles of their projects:

Kerry Chase, Politics: American Democracy and the Birth of International Organizations. Chase will work toward writing and publishing two articles to form the basis of his third book project.

Elizabeth Ferry, Sociology: Ferry will use the award to continue research and writing on a book tentatively titled Tangible Assets: Gold as Material-Social Force in Finance and Mining.

Laura Quinney, English: Existential Alienation- the apprehension of consciousness that it is essentially alone, embedded in a surrounding that is indifferent at best, hostile at worst.

Jonathan Unglaub, Fine Arts: The award will enable Unglaub to complete his manuscript of Painting as Miraculous Birth: Raphael and the Renaissance Madonna.

Previous winners include:


Wendy Cadge

William Flesch

Harleen Singh

Palle Yourgrau



Charles Golden

Paul Jankowski

Charles McClendon

David Powelstock



ChaeRan Freeze

Steve Dowden

John Plotz

David Rakowski


Faith Smith

Caren Irr

Ellen Schattschneider

Govind Sreenivasan

Brandeis unveils new dining options and changes for Spring 2017Posted: Jan. 18, 2017
Photo/Mike Lovett

The new Dunkin Donuts, now in upper Usdan.

Brandeis has improved its dining options for the campus community ahead of the start of the Spring 2017 semester.

Based on a recommendation by the Brandeis University Senate Dining Committee, Dunkin Donuts has been relocated from the Village to the former site of Louis’ Deli. The new Dunkin Donuts opened for business starting on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Louis’ Deli will remain in Upper Usdan, but is now directly in front of the new Dunkin Donuts. Louis’ Deli will now feature expanded weekly specials compiled with input from the Kosher Focus Group as well as improved sandwich options—like corned beef and homemade pickles.

The Brandeis community will also be able to take advantage of the following updates to the Residential Dining Program:

  • “Mindful Mondays,” which prominently feature healthy eating options.
  • A new salad option as part of the meal exchange at Sub Connection in Upper Usdan.
  • New soup additions, as well as the introduction of themed sandwich bars, and new seasoned burger options.
Carina Ray named winner of the Wesley-Logan Prize by the American Historical AssociationPosted: Jan. 9, 2017
Carina Ray

Carina Ray

Carina Ray, associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies, has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Wesley-Logan Prize for her book "Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana."

The Wesley-Logan Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA) to honor the best book on the subject of African diaspora history. The prize will be awarded during a ceremony at the association’s annual meeting.

“Crossing the Color Line is an innovative study of interracial sex in British West Africa and Europe from the period of colonial expansion to the era of decolonization,” commented the prize committee. “It skillfully interweaves readings of individual cases of interracial unions with analyses of broader imperial policies to show how the British sought to contain relations between African and European men and women across racial boundaries. This book is a welcome contribution to the historiographies of West Africa, Europe, and the African diaspora.”

The AHA Committee on Minority Historians established the prize in 1992 in memory of two early pioneers in the field, Charles H. Wesley and Rayford W. Logan. The American Historical Association is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies. It is the largest organization of historians in the United States.
Masters Swimming: For Swimmers of all AbilitiesPosted: Dec. 13, 2016

Brandeis University is offering swimming lessons for faculty and staff members.

Classes are for swimmers of all abilities and will take place in the Linsey Pool, which is connected to the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

Practices will take place from 5 a.m. to 6:15 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The cost of the program is $75 per month or $100 for 10 practices. For more information and to sign up, contact Kristen Seaton via email at

Waltham Group surpasses goal, collects more than 3,000 canned goods on HalloweenPosted: Nov. 17, 2016

Students came together on Oct. 31, 2016 for Waltham Group’s annual Halloween for the Hungry event, going door-to-door in neighborhoods surrounding the Brandeis campus to trick-or-treat for canned goods.

Between student collections and faculty and staff donations, Brandeis gathered up 3,127 canned goods and food items. All that was collected was donated to the Middlesex Human Service Agency, which runs the Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen and two local shelters.

More than 100 volunteers trick-or-treated from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Halloween. The Waltham Group’s goal was to collect at least 3,000 canned goods this year.

"The event is truly a hallmark of Brandeis. It combines the spirit of dressing up on Halloween and providing our community with an easy, accessible way to volunteer for local food pantries,” said Community Service Director Lucas Malo. “Together, Brandeis students and Waltham residents can achieve more, and our total collection count demonstrates the value of that cooperation."
Brandeis launches new carpooling program for faculty, staff and studentsPosted: Nov. 15, 2016

Brandeis has launched a new carpooling service called Commute Green.

The service — which is also available through a mobile application called CommuteTracker — will enable Brandeis community members to connect with one another to share rides to and from campus.

Using Commute Green can help a user save on fuel, open up more parking spaces on campus and minimize fossil fuel emissions.

Brandeis joins a number of other peer academic institutions, including MIT, Harvard University, American University, Stanford University, along with companies like Google, Hulu and Amazon, in taking this new approach to carpooling.

“Hundreds of faculty, staff and commuter students make several single-occupant vehicle trips to campus every week, complicated by varying schedules and responsibilities,” said Brandeis sustainability manager Mary Fischer. “Commute Green allows you to find a potential carpool, whatever your schedule.”

Community members will be able to share rides, find ways to campus via multiple routes like biking, walking and busing, and also see on an interactive map the locations of bike racks, bike pumps and bike repair stations.

In partnership with the Department of Public Safety, six carpool parking spaces will be designated on campus starting this week. Faculty, staff and commuter students who currently hold parking permits may apply for a carpool parking pass online. Details about how to obtain and use the carpool parking pass, as well as all other related details, are available online.

Faculty and staff will be able to connect only with faculty and staff for ridesharing, and students will connect only with other students. Only individuals with a email address can use the site. Faculty and staff who participate are eligible for the MassRIDES Emergency Ride Home program.

The success of this program depends upon attracting a critical mass of users. The more people who sign up to “request a carpool," - a commitment-free way for commuters to indicate they are interested in occasionally sharing rides - the easier it will be to find other commuters in their area.