Around Campus

Myra Kraft Transitional Year students celebrate the Stamp ActPosted: March 24, 2015
Photo/Jarret Bencks

From left: Joseph Figueroa as Thomas Hutchinson, Vanio Dos Santos as Benjamin Franklin and Christian Nuñez as Samuel Adams.

Students in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program presented an exhibit and performance to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act.

Donning colonial garb, Joseph Figueroa '19, Vanio Dos Santos '19 and Christian Nuñez '19 wrote and performed a scene depicting conversation between Thomas Hutchinson, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams, with Figueroa playing Hutchinson, Dos Santos as Franklin and Nuñez as Adams.

The Stamp Act of 1765 required certain documents to be printed on stamped paper from Great Britain that carried a tax. It was met with protest from many American colonists.

Students put on the performance and created the exhibit as part of History lecturer Craig Bruce Smith's course, "Preserving Boston's Past: Public History and Digital Humanities." The event Monday in Rapaporte Treasure Hall was titled "The 250th Anniversary of the Stamp Act: A Revolutionary Exhibit and Performance." To create the exhibit, students combed through archival materials to find compelling images, find out where the images came from and create captions for them.

"It was a real test of the eye, it had to be something that would really grab your attention," said Kenneth Hong '19.

The Transitional Year Program was established in 1968 and was renamed in 2013 for Myra Kraft ‘64, the late Brandeis alumna and trustee. It provides small classes and strong support systems for students who have had limitations to their precollege academic opportunities.

Fund set up for student’s family following house fire Posted: March 20, 2015
The family of Erika Carter, a student in the Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program, lost their home to a fire this week. Members of the Brandeis community who are interested in offering support for Carter and her family may want to consider donating via a GoFundMe site that has been set up for the family.
Students unwind with puppies and pizzasPosted: March 18, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

The Brandeis Psychological Counseling Center hosted a “Puppies and Pizza” party for students who wanted to take a break from their studies. The March 18 event featured therapy dogs and offered students a chance to relax, if only for a moment, while they prepared for their midterm exams.

Changes to Brandeis’ dining services and meal plansPosted: March 17, 2015

More than three years ago, Brandeis administration and students, working closely with a consultant, began a review of campus dining services. They assessed what services were being provided, what was desired and what might be the best model for Brandeis.

The research suggested that facilities needed to be upgraded and venues expanded, but it also meant that Brandeis would need to adopt the dining services model used by nearly all of its peer institutions, where all students who live in campus housing are required to be part of the meal plan. Most of those models maintain a roughly comparable overall residential cost (room and board). In those models, the more spacious apartment housing with greater amenities for juniors and seniors cost more, and the meal plans at those levels are brought into a cost that maintains a comparable overall charge to the less expensive first and second year rooms with the larger meal plans.

The collaborative and unanimous decision to upgrade dining services resulted in some significant changes. Sodexo was selected as the new provider, and dining services were expanded to a variety of venues, including bringing Starbucks into the library, a café in the science center, and a Dunkin' Donuts to lower campus. This past summer, Usdan received a massive remodeling, offering a new kosher deli, sushi bar, and Currito, along with a fully renovated all-you-can-eat dining facility. This coming summer, Einstein Bros. Bagels will expand to a full-service operation and the Sherman Dining Hall will be full renovated and expanded. Hours and meal plan use also have been expanded across campus, and a partnership with Russo’s Market has brought a great array of fresh fruits and other amenities to campus stores and dining halls.

Brandeis continues to work closely with the campus dining committee on the dining program. The changes to next year’s meal plans reflect students’ desire for more points. The program also reflects student input with a new meal exchange at several venues, in response to student requests for more ways to use meal “swipes.”

The student dining committee focused significant attention on the apartment style plans. While all meal plan options are open to students in apartments, juniors and seniors in apartments can choose to access the less expensive plan options. At the request of the students, the plan was designed in blocks for the full semester, providing students maximize flexibility regarding when they make use of their meals. Students also asked for a plan below this year’s apartment plan cost of $2,000/semester. Although this risks creating a less cost efficient plan for the students, Brandeis will provide a plan that is priced at $1,875/semester.

While increased costs are never welcome and no dining program on any campus is perfect for everyone, student leadership and community input helped shape the long-term model for Brandeis dining services, just as input continues to shape the details of that implementation today. The changes underway reflect decisions made in the best interests of campus community toward offering the diverse dining opportunities requested by the students, and improvements that will help make Brandeis dining among the best in the country.

Sparking ideas and sprouting solutionsPosted: March 3, 2015
Have an idea for a business or product? Brandeis University wants to hear it.
SPARK, a new initiative created by the Brandeis University Virtual Incubator Program, is offering $50,000 to help bring ideas and entrepreneurial ambitions to life. It will focus on projects that promote positive social, educational or financial impact on a broad range of issues, including the environment, education, computer science, healthcare and economics. SPARK will also provide training and networking opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs. 
SPARK is funded by the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center and sponsored by the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL). A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
“The Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center was founded to support the Brandeis community in different and innovative ways,” says Rebecca Menapace, associate provost for innovation and OTL executive director. “Brandeis is already such a collaborative place and we hope SPARK can deepen those connections, both on campus and in the broader community.”
Undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff are all welcome to submit proposals. Preliminary proposals are due by Friday, March 6, 2015. Finalists will present their proposal to a panel of industry judges at the end of April and awards will be announced by early May.
Friday, March 6, also marks the deadline for proposals for SPROUT Grants, a five-year-old initiative to support innovative research projects. A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
Funded by the Office of the Provost and sponsored by OTL, SPROUT Grants are awarded to projects that require bench research, lab space or lab equipment. Finalists will also be eligible for training and networking opportunities. Previous winners include projects focused on developing new classes of anti-cancer drugs; improving the manufacture of insulin, and improving a genome modification system.
“Together, the SPROUT and SPARK programs create a virtual incubator spanning the breadth of what we do at Brandeis, from developing software and apps to improving protein chemistry and vaccine development,” says Menapace.
Yehudi Wyner elected president of American Academy of Arts and LettersPosted: March 2, 2015

Professor Emeritus of Composition Yehudi Wyner has been elected president of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He succeeds architect Henry S. Cobb as president of the academy and will serve a three-year term. Wyner has been a member of the highly selective honor society since 1999.

Wyner's decorated career includes a 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his composition "Piano Concerto: 'Chiavi in Mano'," a Grammy in 2005 for "The Mirror," the Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and numerous grants and fellowships.

Comprised of 250 architects, composers, artists, and writers, the American Academy of Arts and Letters fosters literature, music, and the fine arts through administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art donated to museums.

Shantanu Jadhav named Sloan Research FellowPosted: Feb. 25, 2015
Assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience Shantanu Jadhav has won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship to explore memory and decision-making in mammalian brains.
Shantanu Jadhav
Shantanu Jadhav
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship honors early-career scientists and scholars who are among the next generation of scientific leaders. This year, 126 researchers from the U.S. and Canada were awarded the $50,000 grant.
Jadhav, who recently came to Brandeis from the University of California, San Francisco, studies how the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex — two critical brain regions — interact and communicate with each other to support learning, memory and memory-guided decision-making.
Communication between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is critical for remembering, planning, predicting and decision-making, yet scientists don’t yet understand how the two regions communicate. 
To explore this question, Jadhav studies rat brains in real time as they form memories, learn and make decisions. He observes how activity in neuronal groups in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex evolves during learning and what mechanisms underlie the organization and transmission of information across these structures.
Jadhav hopes his research will provide insight into memory and learning as well as neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer's, depression and schizophrenia.
Brandeis alumni and scholars win prestigious book awardsPosted: Feb. 11, 2015

A number of Brandeis University alumni and scholars who received research support  from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education have been awarded the 2014 National Jewish Book Award by the Jewish Book Council. 

Yohanan Petrovsky Shtern won in the category of history for his book, “The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe,” while Orit Kent’s book with Elie Holzer, “A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs, won in the category of Jewish education.

Additionally, Adam Mendelsohn won in the category of American Jewish Studies for his book, “The Rag Race,” while Julia Cohen and Sarah Abreyeva Stein’s edited book, “Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950,” won in the category of Sephardic culture.

Cohen’s other book, “Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era,” won in the category of writing based on archival material.

Kathryn Hellerstein’s won in the category of women’s studies with her book, “A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987.”

For more information on the books or to purchase them, visit the Jewish Book Council’s website

Jewish People’s Choice Awards honors Stein ’15, Nass ’14Posted: Feb. 4, 2015

The Jewish People’s Choice Awards named Ethan Stein ’15 Business Person of the Year and honored Brandeis alumnus Josh Nass ’14 as this year’s Lover of Israel.

Hosted by the Chabad Young Professionals of the UES (Upper East Side), the Jewish People’s Choice Awards recognizes the achievements of young Jews in New York City. The gala took place on Jan. 29 at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan.

Stein, a computer science, film and near eastern and Judaic studies triple major, just launched his own company, CyberSecurityPlan, which provides its clients with customized computer security plans to protect their computer networks.

Nass, a former politics major, currently runs Voices of Conservative Youth, an organization that aims to increase support and understanding of conservative political platforms among young voters.

Jankowski's 'Verdun' wins World War One Historical Association's book prizePosted: Jan. 16, 2015

The World War One Historical Association has awarded Paul Jankowski, the Raymond Ginger Professor of History, the 2014 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Book Prize for his book “Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War.”

The prize is offered annually for the best historical work on World War One. It consists of a check for $3,000 and a bronze plaque.

The Battle of Verdun is noted for its length - it lasted for 10 months – and its brutality, and is the subject of many books that have largely analyzed the military tactics. Jankowski has been lauded for taking a different approach in his writing. His book provides insight on the human experience and includes both the German and French perspective.

University of Bern honors BrootenPosted: Jan. 12, 2015
Photo/University of Bern

Bernadette J. Brooten, front row, second from left, with her fellow honorary degree recipients

The University of Bern has awarded an honorary doctorate in theology to Bernadette J. Brooten, the Robert and Myra Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies.

The Swiss university recognized Brooten for her groundbreaking research on Jewish and Christian women in antiquity, on the history of sexuality, and on slavery, noting that her work has spurred new discussions within the academy and in society more broadly. Her research on the Apostle Junia was singled out as a milestone in biblical studies and a classic in theological women's studies.

Brooten is the director of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project, which was established, in part, to provide religious communities and society at large with the knowledge and framework needed to recognize and acknowledge past collaboration in slavery, to engage in restorative justice for slavery, and to create sexual ethics untainted by slave-holding values.

Brooten, who is also a professor of classical studies, of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and of religious studies, currently is a fellow-in-residence at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is working to understand why Christian leaders supported slavery for most of Christian history and how that support relates to their regulations on marriage, family and celibacy.

The University of Bern was formally founded in 1834, but the roots of the university dates back to the 16th century when it was founded as a collegiate school in response to the Reformation.

Brandeis named a top 10 school for a sociology degreePosted: Jan. 7, 2015

College Factual has ranked Brandeis as one of the top 10 schools to earn an sociology degree in the United States.

Brandeis earned the sixth spot in a national survey conducted by College Factual that looked at overall academic quality of sociology undergraduate programs.

The web-based college information source recognized Brandeis for blending a liberal arts education with sociology classes to further explore human interactions, especially relating to gender, religion, health and politics. “Along with analyzing theories and methods in the classroom, students at Brandeis are able to gain hands-on experience through engagement with community organizations and local social movements. The school also offers the opportunity to become involved with research.”