Around Campus

Remembrance and reflection for Sept. 11Posted: Sept. 11, 2017
Speakers gathered for Sept. 11 memorialPhoto/Mike Lovett

Nia Duncan '20 sings during the gathering.

The Brandeis community gathered Monday afternoon in remembrance of the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Held outside of the Shapiro Campus Center, the gathering included speakers Jacob Edelman '18, Student Union president; Alex Montgomery, coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center; and Rabbi Liza Stern, director of Spiritual and Religious Life and Jewish chaplain.

"Nine-eleven is a yahrzeit we all share," Stern said. "...We promise we will not forget. We promise will remember our people, with our heads and with our hearts."

Along with the speakers, the memorial included a poem by Cary Weir-Lytle, associate director of employer relations at Hiatt Career Center, and a performance of the song "Time After Time" by Nia Duncan '20. Reverend Matthew Carriker, protestant chaplain closed the memorial by leading a moment of silence followed by an interfaith prayer and a song.

The event was organized by the Dean of Students Office, the Department of Spiritual and Religious Life and the Division of Students and Enrollment.

President Liebowitz joins educational leaders in asking Congress for immediate legislative action on DACAPosted: Sept. 8, 2017

Fifty-seven presidents and chancellors from institutions that are part of the Association of American Universities sent a letter to Congress requesting immediate legislative action to establish a permanent legal solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz was one of the AAU signatories.

“As educational leaders, we are committed to providing equal opportunity for all students to pursue their learning and life goals,” the letter reads in part. “Since 2012, DACA has enabled these young people to pursue education and employment. With DACA, our students and alumni have been able to pursue opportunities in business, education, high-tech industries, and the nonprofit sector; they have gone to medical school, law school, and graduate school for numerous disciplines; they are actively contributing to their local communities and economies by working, volunteering and paying taxes. America needs hard working talented people – and these students are already meaningful members of our society. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are a vital part of our future.”

Summer construction projectsPosted: Aug. 29, 2017

Over the course of the summer of 2017, a number of campus structures underwent significant improvements, with residence halls and academic buildings as well as pathways, parking lots and roads receiving upgrades.

Residence Halls:

The New Residence Hall Project saw significant progress during the summer months as foundation, site and utility work continued. Chum’s Coffee House was also renovated as part of the construction and will reopen the second week in September.

Rosenthal residence halls and the Massell Quad both received new hot water heating systems. New steam lines and associated equipment were installed in Massell Quad.

Both East residence halls received new roofs. Crews also completed the second year of a two-year full window replacement project.

Academic Buildings and University Libraries:

The front of the Goldfarb Library has been replaced and the plaza above the University Archives was repaired and waterproofed.

Bassine/Goldsmith and Kosow had roof replacements.

The fire alarm system in Pearlman was upgraded.

New chilled water lines have been installed between Usdan and Brown Hall, which will now provide chilled water for Lemberg, Brown, and Schwartz, allowing for the removal of an obsolete chiller and cooling tower.

Farber’s HVAC system received a significant upgrade, which will produce more uniform heating and improve ventilation and cooling. Shiffman had its heating and cooling system replaced and underwent a lighting upgrade.

HVAC studies conducted in Admissions and the Mandel Center are now leading to repairs and upgrades to improve the systems in both buildings. New steam lines and associated equipment were installed in Usdan and Goldfarb.

Meanwhile, the temporary chiller in the Heller-Brown lot will remain in place until the end of the cooling season and will then be relocated to the Shapiro Campus Center. The work required to replace the obsolete cooling plant in Usdan continues this fall and will be completed soon.

The Squire Bridge and the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center:

The Squire Bridge, which crosses South Street and connects the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center with the main campus, has undergone significant renovations, including the replacement of some structural steel. The bridge was also freshly painted. More work will be done on the concrete and brick support elements of the bridge next summer.

The Linsey Pool also received an upgraded filtration system.

Campus roads and pathways:

The North Road and North Lot have both been repaved, along with a number of other smaller paving projects.

In addition, most of the high traffic residential paths near Usdan and Goldfarb have been replaced.

Brandeis students study abroad this fall with support from prestigious Gilman ScholarshipsPosted: Aug. 28, 2017
Four Brandeis students will receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the fall 2017 academic term. The Gilman Scholarship provides students with up to $5,000 toward their study abroad program costs.
The recipients, their hometowns, study abroad locations and programs include:
  •  Sekou Kaba ’18  of East Orange, New Jersey, Sociology major and Business minor; Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)/ Liberal Arts in Seville, Spain.
  •  Deborah-Virginia Kawalie-Fataki ’19 of Atlanta, Georgia, sociology major and legal studies and African/Afro-American studies minor; School for International Training/South Africa; multiculturalism and human rights
  •  Sindy Sura ’19 of Dallas, Texas, anthropology major and business minor; Institute for the International Education of Students (IES)/Milan: business studies
  • Chantal Tepper ’18 of Miami Beach, Florida, business major and legal studies minor; American Councils (ACTR)/ business Russian language and internship in Moscow
Each year the Office of Study Abroad assists students in applying to the Gilman scholarship, as well as many other study abroad scholarships. In an effort to diversify the students who can study abroad and the countries and regions to which they travel, the office works closely with students to make study abroad feasible for all who wish to pursue it.
Brandeis appoints new Hindu advisorPosted: Aug. 14, 2017
Brandeis University has appointed Shrestha Singh, a recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School, as its new Hindu advisor.

In her new role, Singh will provide a focus for the Hindu community’s spiritual life on campus; she will lead Hindu festivals as well as talks on Hindu religion and tradition. She will support students of all Dharmic faiths and traditions and will coordinate the use of Brandeis’ Dharmic prayer center. She will guide students and other members of the campus community in ways of spiritual growth and provide support to students and staff and their families in times of personal crisis.

Singh is also the Hindu Chaplain at Wellesley College, where she has planned cultural events and facilitated conversations about race, class, gender and sexuality in the South Asian community, among other activities.

“Shrestha has an excellent understanding of the spiritual and cultural needs of students from all Dharmic traditions, and will be a great asset to our Department of Spiritual and Religious Life and the Multifaith Chaplaincy,” said Senior Vice President of Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel.

Singh, who hails from the Bay Area in California, earned her Master of Divinity from Harvard in May. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She has served as a chaplain intern at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and was a member of the Racial Justice & Healing Initiative at Harvard, where she helped organize student and faculty support for discussions, forums and workshops around healing racial injustice through sharing stories and experiences. She lives in Arlington with her pit bull mix, George Clooney.

“I’m honored to have the chance to work with students at Brandeis. My passion is facilitating deep and reflective conversations at the intersections of spirituality and our work in the wider world. I’m also the child of immigrants, and am committed to working with students who are similarly navigating multiple cultures and identities, and hope to help their voices feel more heard on campus,” Singh said.
The Physics of SandPosted: Aug. 7, 2017

Pick up a handful of sand, toss it in the air, then try to predict where each grain will land.

Obviously, the task is beyond the ability of most people to compute, but you’d expect a physicist with a state-of-the-art supercomputer to be able to figure it out. Actually, she too may find herself stymied.

Like rocks, snowflakes, coffee grinds and grains of rice, sand is an example of a granular material — discrete solid, macroscopic particles often found together in large numbers.

We know how one unit of a granular material will behave. Throw a ball, for example, and with the right information, a scientist can predict how far it will go and where it will land. It’s basic Newtonian physics.

But when lots of units of a granular material are in motion, they exert so many forces on each other that even our most powerful computer can’t predict the dynamics with sufficient accuracy.

When granular materials move, they often behave like liquids. Think of sand flowing through an hourglass. But at other times, they become jammed and behave like a solid. Think of salt particles coming out of a shaker. If there are enough particles trying to get through a hole at the same time, none will make it through. That’s when they stop moving and become jammed. This can happen as well when marbles try to get through the spout of a funnel. One or two may pass, but when several make the attempt at the same time, they get stuck.

In the late 1980s, the British physicist Samuel Edwards proposed the radical idea that all jammed states — and there might be trillions — were equally possible.

In June, Enid and Nate Ancell Professor of Physics Bulbul Chakraborty, postdoctoral fellow Kabir Ramola and several colleagues at the University of Cambridge in England published a study in Nature Physics that put Edwards’ conjecture to the test through computational modeling. The researchers focused on what happens when, right after the jamming occurs, the granular material is unsettled. They found that when it resettles, there is no particular pattern of the particles that can be predicted, thus proving that Edwards was correct.

It’s the first computational confirmation of Edwards’ conjecture and represents a major breakthrough in our ability to model the arrangement of granular materials, even if that means determining the arrangement can’t be predicted.

The research also opens up avenues for analyzing and understanding granular flows such as the ones we see in avalanches, which are caused when jammed states of rocks and debris become unjammed.

It may also one day prove useful to businesses that use granular materials such as the drug and food industries, agriculture and oil companies.

The other authors on the paper are Stefano Martiniani, K. Julian Schrenk and Daan Frenkel, all at the University of Cambridge.

Brandeis names Rabbi Elisabeth Weiss Stern acting director of religious and spiritual life and Jewish chaplainPosted: Aug. 4, 2017
rabbi liza stern

Rabbi Liza Stern

Brandeis University announced today that Rabbi Elisabeth “Liza” Weiss Stern, a longtime leader in the Boston-area Jewish and interfaith community, will serve both as acting director of religious and spiritual life and as Jewish chaplain. Her two-year appointment at Brandeis will begin on Aug. 7.

Stern served last year as a part-time Jewish chaplain at Brandeis, and had previously been an associate faculty member. In her new role as director of religious and spiritual life, Stern will work with the other members of Brandeis’ Multifaith Chaplaincy to support the spiritual needs of Brandeis students, faculty and staff of all faiths. As Jewish chaplain, she will enhance Jewish spiritual and cultural life on campus, in concert with Brandeis Hillel.

“I have loved my previous work at Brandeis and am familiar with its deep respect for all faiths, and with the rich diversity of spiritual traditions among students, faculty and staff. I am eager to continue collaborating with my colleagues in the Multifaith Chaplaincy to support the spiritual growth of the whole community,” she said.

“Assisting young people with their Jewish journeys has been one of the most gratifying parts of my career,” Stern added, “I look forward to serving as Jewish chaplain and working with other religious leaders on campus and in the community.”

“Over the course of Rabbi Stern’s impressive career, she has attended to the spiritual and cultural needs of her congregations and made lasting contributions to the U.S. Jewish community.” said Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment. “Rabbi Stern’s energy and passion for her work is palpable. I know that she will provide tremendous support for students of all faiths and to her colleagues in the chaplaincy.”

Stern is well known as the rabbi at Congregation Eitz Chayim in Cambridge, Mass., a diverse, socially-active urban Jewish community. She will continue to provide rabbinical support to Eitz Chayim. Stern has also been involved in a variety of interfaith efforts in the greater Boston area. She is a member of the board of Boston Area Gleaners, a nonprofit organization that harvests surplus produce at area farms and provides it to food banks, pantries and meal programs.  

A graduate of Vassar College, Stern was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In recognition of her 25-year tenure as both a rabbi and an insightful scholar, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by HUC. She has five adult children with her husband Rabbi Keith Stern, who is rabbi of Temple Beth Avodah in Newton.

As a faculty member at Brandeis, Stern served as an adjunct professor of Judaic Studies in the Hornstein Program of Jewish Communal Service. She supervised student internships and taught courses in contemporary Jewish issues, studying Jewish text, and the evolution of Jewish theory and practice.Stern’s appointment come shortly after the university also announced a new executive director of Brandeis Hillel, Rabbi Seth Winberg, who will begin in August and will serve as a senior Jewish chaplain in addition to his role with Hillel.
Professor Karen V. Hansen named director of the Women’s Studies Research Center at BrandeisPosted: June 28, 2017
Karen V. Hansen
Provost Lisa Lynch announced today that Karen V. Hansen, Professor of Sociology, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University, has been named director of the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC) upon the retirement of Professor Shulamit Reinharz, founding director, effective July 1.

“I am delighted that Karen has agreed to serve in this position,” said Lynch. “Her scholarship and teaching on the sociology of gender, class, race and ethnicity and her commitment to knowledge advancing positive change for women and their families makes her the ideal person to lead the WSRC in this next phase of its development.”

Hansen’s latest book, Encounter on the Great Plains:  Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, has received support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and received the 2016 Chaudhuri Book Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians.  Professor Hansen’s scholarship also focuses on contemporary families. She authored Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and the Networks of Care, which received the William J. Goode Book Award, Honorable Mention, and was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award. Combining theoretical frameworks and rich empirical accounts, she has also edited two anthologies with Anita Ilta Garey, At the Heart of Work and Families in the U.S.
Hansen has served as department chair in sociology at Brandeis from 2007-2012 and again since 2016.  She is currently a member of the board of directors for the consortium for graduate studies in Gender, Culture, Women and Sexuality based at MIT, and she is series editor for the Families in Focus series at Rutgers University Press.

Diane Rubin ’81, co-chair of the WSRC advisory board, said “I know that her scholarship and personality with make her a terrific new leader for the Center.”  Rosalie Ripaldi Shane '66 said, “Karen's understanding of women's issues and her commitment to scholarly research make her a perfect choice to lead the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center as we move forward. It will be a pleasure for Diane Rubin and me to serve as her co-chairs of the WSRC advisory board.”

“As someone who has been engaged with Women’s Studies at Brandeis for more than twenty years, I look forward to building on all that my colleague Shula Reinharz has achieved as founding director of the Women’s Studies Research Center,” said Hansen. “Shula has built an extraordinary interdisciplinary research facility of scholars, students and faculty who study gender issues and women's lives.”