Around Campus

Sharon Feiman-Nemser wins Division K Legacy Award from American Educational Research AssociationPosted: April 7, 2017

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Professor of Jewish Education, has been named co-winner of the 2017 Division K Legacy Award by the American Educational Research Association.

In a letter, the committee for the award recognized Feiman-Nemser for producing ground breaking work on teacher learning, and for her research on mentoring and new teacher induction, which continues to have wide impact both teacher education research and practice.

The teacher and teaching education division the American Educational Research Association, Division K focuses on research on teaching and on teacher development and education from pre-service through professional induction to the in-service stages of teachers' careers.

The Legacy Award recognizes individuals who have made significant and exemplary contributions through their research, teaching and professional service in the field of teaching and teacher education.

Brandeis scientists named Simons fellowsPosted: March 16, 2017

Two Brandeis researchers — associate professor of physics Matthew Headrick and professor of mathematics Daniel Ruberman — have been named fellows by the prestigious Simons Foundation.

Both scholars will receive funding for a semester-long sabbatical. "Such leaves can increase creativity and provide intellectual stimulation," the Simons Foundation, based in New York, says on its website

Ruberman will be investigating topology and gauge theory. In the upcoming academic year, he will be a visiting scholar at the University of Pisa in Italy and then at Stanford University.

Headrick's research focuses on quantum gravity, quantum field theory and quantum information theory. The grant will enable him to stretch his sabbatical at MIT an additional semester in the 2017-18 academic year.

Last year, Headrick was part of a consortium of researchers who received funding from the Simons Foundation to pursue fundamental research in physics and quantum information theory.

General Counsel Steven S. Locke earns recognition from Massachusetts Lawyers WeeklyPosted: March 8, 2017

Brandeis General Counsel Steven S. Locke was recently recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of 23 “In-house Leaders,” attorneys who provide outstanding leadership within their organizations.

Locke began his tenure at Brandeis 11 years ago, after teaching at Suffolk University Law School and serving as general counsel at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. At MCAD, he argued two cases before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

At Brandeis, Locke handles issues as diverse as intellectual property and employment law; recently, he helped design and implement the university’s new restorative justice process. Restorative justice is an alternative method of resolving disputes that brings together not only those directly involved in a conflict, but other community members affected as well, to reach a collaborative resolution.

Locke is also a member of the Waltham Freedom Team, which provides assistance on civil rights issues, and serves as a council member to the Boston Bar Association’s college and university law section.  He has also served on the MCAD Advisory Board and the Melrose Human Rights Commission. 

Harleen Singh awarded Burkhardt FellowshipPosted: March 3, 2017

Harleen Singh, an Associate Professor of German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures, has been awarded a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship.

The Fellowship is given by the American Council of Learned Societies, which extends its support to recently tenured faculty members across the country.

The Burkhardt Fellowship carries a $95,000 stipend and $7,500 research budget and allows awardees to take yearlong residencies at institutions whose resources and scholarly communities are an ideal place to facilitate their proposed research.

Singh also teaches in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and South Asian Studies at Brandeis.

Yu-Hui Chang wins Arts and Letters Award from American Academy of Arts and LettersPosted: March 1, 2017

Brandeis Associate Professor of Composition Yu-Hui Chang has been named one of four composers awarded an Arts and Letters Award in Music from the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The award honors outstanding artistic achievement and "acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice," according to the academy. It comes with a $10,000 prize, along with an additional $10,000 toward the recording of one work of composition.

Chang's compositions have been performed around the globe. She has received commissions from Harvard University's Fromm Music Foundation, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Earplay and many more.

Along with Chang, composers Lisa Bielawa, Jan Krzywicki and Andrew Norman were also named winners of the 2017 award.

Located in New York City, the American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 to "foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts.  The Academy annually honors more than 50 composers, artists, architects and writers with awards ranging from $5000 to $100,000, along with supporting activities such as art exhibitions, architecture and readings of new musicals.

Brandeis scientists net major honorsPosted: Feb. 27, 2017
Leslie GriffithMike 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.