Three Brandeis University students recently presented research findings on nail salon air quality at the 2014 International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology in Houston.
Margaret Back ’16, Morgan Dashko ’15 and Tasneem Islam ’15 reported that workers in 15 nail salons in Greater Boston were exposed to high levels of harmful chemicals which are common in nail polishes, polish removers and acrylic and gel nails.
The students’ findings were from a study they conducted with colleagues in professor Laura Goldin’s Environmental Health and Justice Program, which is offered through the Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS).
The Justice Brandeis Semester program is part of Brandeis’ commitment to creating and supporting intensive learning experiences with enduring impact, a central goal of the university’s strategic plan.
The students conducted their research in collaboration with Viet-AID, a Vietnamese-American community development organization based in Dorchester, Mass. (many of the estimated 350,000 nail salon workers in the U.S. are Vietnamese women and other immigrants), the Boston Public Health Commission, the Healthy Cosmetology Committee, and Talena Thu Ngo, a Vietnamese business directory.
The trio, the youngest to present at the conference, said their findings were well received. “The attendees were very impressed with our age and student status,” said Islam. “When we first got up to present, it felt as if people we skeptical, but after we started, people seemed to change their expressions to those of genuine interests.”
In addition to gaining experience presenting to a professional audience, the students met environmental health professionals from around the world, including the director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division. “It was such an exciting experience, [especially] hearing about all the environmental research that is being done in the world,” said Islam.
As you may by now already be aware, our terrific dean of the Hiatt Career Center, Joe Du Pont, is departing from Brandeis University to become associate vice president for student affairs at Boston College. While I am very sorry to see Joe leave, he has been offered a tremendous opportunity and I wish him great happiness and success in his new endeavors.
Joe’s last day at Brandeis will be June 2, and members of the students and enrollment team are collaborating with the Hiatt staff to arrange a farewell party for Joe during the last week of May.
The Brandeis community has benefited from Joe’s experience and many contributions. Under his leadership, the Hiatt Career Center transformed into a bustling hub for student success. Joe elevated the university’s employer and alumni development and outreach while strategically forming an outstanding team of professionals to focus on helping our students transform their education into meaningful professional futures. Throughout the economic downturn, the Hiatt team has helped maintain a student placement rate for recent graduates between 95-96 percent at a time when many of our peers saw those rates drop.
With Joe’s departure, we begin a search for new leadership. As Joe’s role has been expanding, we expect a national search to identify candidates who will continue to build our community and corporate relations, as well as further develop our tradition of student success. My thanks to Carolina Figueroa, associate vice president for students and enrollment, who has agreed to chair this search. It is also my great pleasure to extend thanks to Andrea Dine, the very accomplished director of the Hiatt Career Center, who has agreed to serve as interim dean. I hope you will join me in thanking Joe for his service, and in supporting Andrea in this role.
Senior vice president for students and enrollment
Marc Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, has been awarded an Independent Publisher Book Award for his contributions to "Three Testaments: Torah, Gospel, and Quran," a work that explores the connections between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Brettler shares the award with editor Brian Arthur Brown and co-authors Amir Hussain, Laleh Bakhtiar, David Bruce, Henry Carrigan, Ellen Frankel and Nevin Reda. "Three Testaments" tied for the gold medal in its category, Religion, with "The Messianic Feast: Moving Beyond the Ritual," by T. Alex Tennent.
The awards, known as the IPPYs, launched in 1996 and are designed to bring increased recognition to titles published by independent authors and publishers. This year, 275 medalists were chosen from 4,000 submissions in 78 categories.
It was quite a year for community service at Brandeis. BEMCo volunteered at the Boston Marathon, the Brandeis Black Student Organization piloted a college access program at Waltham High School, more than 60 students traveled to Honduras as part of Global Brigades, Brandeis hosted a special day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the Waltham Group reached their highest number of volunteers, averaging 800 students per semester.
On April 28, the 5th Annual Celebration of Service honored those students, staff, faculty and community partners who participated in community service work throughout the course of the year. The event’s speakers included Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment, Marsha Patel '14, the founding president of Brandeis Brigades, and community partner Marilyn Lee-Tom, executive director of the Community Day Center of Waltham.
In addition to celebrating all those who participated in service, this year's event paid special tribute to seniors who logged hours as part of the Commitment to Service Award Program, sponsored by a donation from Michael Gerstein '96. Seniors on track to log 300, 600 or 900 hours received bronze, silver and gold medals respectively. More than 561 students registered for the Commitment to Service Award, volunteering at 341 organizations around the world.
This year’s Clubs in Service award went to the Men' s Football (Soccer) Club, for their involvement in a variety of youth based programs in the community.
Commitment to Service Award Program Award Winners
Gold (900 hours)
Silver (600 hours)
Bronze (300 hours)
Monica Ferrer Socorro
Sifang "Kathy" Zhao
Brandeis students recently took a break from their busy academic routines, if only briefly, to become teachers.
‘DeisTalks - think TED Talks meet Brandeis - and the Experiential Learning Symposium provided students with two opportunities to speak with members of the Brandeis and local communities about knowledge they developed, or a learning experience they had, in or outside the classroom while studying at Brandeis.
Education for Students by Students (ESS), in conjunction with the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, Library & Technology Services and the Experiential Learning program, sponsored ‘DeisTalks. The Office of Experiential Learning and Teaching hosted the Experiential Learning Symposium.
“Experiential learning is a methodology that helps connect theory and practice and is a very effective process for helping students develop a deeper understanding of an issue,” said Daniel Langenthal, director of experiential learning at Brandeis. “An added benefit is that it also has helped many students to identify their life’s passion and their career focus following graduation.”
The seven ‘DeisTalks subjects ranged from the benefits of a gap year, to being Muslim and gay, to analyzing the difference between computers and the human mind to discover what it really means to be human. The presenters shared their thoughts and experiences during their 5-7 minute talks, hoping to educate and engage the audience.
The Experiential Learning Symposium featured 23 topics to showcase the diverse ways students engage in experiential learning at Brandeis. Projects featured included the group-based study of occupational exposure to unhealthy chemicals and particulates in nail salons; StudyBuddy, a group independent study to build an ambitious web/mobile app for coordinating study groups in classes; the Global Medical Brigades’ trip to Honduras this year; and lobbying the Massachusetts State Legislature for in-state tuition for undocumented students.
Dear Brandeis students:
Brandeis is a community that proudly values justice and truth, even when the pursuit of these ideals becomes difficult or uncomfortable. As today is the last day of national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is critical to recognize that sexual violence happens everywhere. Sexual violence is an injustice we at Brandeis will not tolerate.
Recently, there has been a surge of student activity across all facets of our community to combat sexual violence. On April 7, the newly-formed Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence (B.SASV) released a comprehensive proposal of specific expansions and improvements to be made on our campus. This proposal has garnered more than 2,500 signatures so far on change.org. I am proud of their efforts and committed to working with students to implement real change for the culture on this campus.
On April 9, I attended Brandeis University’s annual Take Back the Night, co-sponsored by Students Talking About Relationships (STAR), Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA), Triskelion (Trisk), and Queer Resource Center (QRC). Each year, I am inspired by the bravery of the survivors and allies who come forward to share their stories. Additionally, as many of you may have seen via social networking websites, a group of students created a blog entitled SpeakOut! Brandeis, which aims to amplify the voices of survivors and initiate an honest dialogue about these issues. I encourage everyone to take a look at the tremendous courage of those who have contributed to the site. Although we never want to think that people in our own community are affected by sexual assault, it is an unfortunate reality we must face together.
Brandeis student organizations, including STAR, Trisk, the Queer Resource Center, Brandeis 6-Talk, and FMLA, have led many of the efforts in raising awareness about sexual assault as well as providing support services to survivors. The Brandeis University administration commends these efforts, as they are truly reflective of the values of our institution. We pledge to continue to support endeavors to combat sexual violence on this campus, and to work closely with students dedicated to these issues. This includes a commitment to transparency.
Combating sexual violence is more than a policy issue. We have already taken many steps, including;
- hiring a sexual assault services and prevention coordinator
- creating a conduct process for sexual assault and harassment that uses a preponderance of the evidence standard and employs a special examiner
- initiating new sessions at orientation from the SpeakAboutIt organization
- providing bystander training for staff, faculty and students.
These efforts are an important start. In the coming weeks, we will publish a comprehensive response to each of the proposals made by B.SASV and widely endorsed by our community.
You may have seen a social media ad from the group Ultraviolet that is part of a national campaign to raise awareness regarding sexual assault and urging colleges and universities, including Brandeis, to respond. We applaud efforts to raise awareness about this widespread problem. We need a culture change in order to break the stigma and silence that places blame on survivors, and creates an unsafe environment.
The new Brandeis Resource Guide for Sexual Assault Survivors is now online. Companion pieces are in the works for faculty and staff, as well as a version focusing on prevention.
We invite you to provide your feedback on this new publication, either to me or to Sheila McMahon. We are also in the midst of developing a new website for sexual assault services and prevention. Students, faculty and staff will have opportunities to provide input on that site this summer, so that it is ready to launch before our new students arrive on campus this coming fall.
With these new resources, along with intensive and collaborative efforts across our community, we are determined to make our campus safe for everyone and to place Brandeis in a national leadership role in addressing sexual assault.Andrew Flagel, PhD
Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment
and Senior Lecturer
David Engerman, the Ottilie Springer Professor of History, has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for his achievements in historical research.
Guggenheim Fellowships are grants made for a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 months to give scholars and artists blocks of time to work on selected projects.
“I'm honored to be the latest in a long line of Brandeis faculty members to receive the fellowship,” Engerman says.
Engerman plans to take the Fellowship in 2016. His project, “Planning for Plenty: The Economic Cold War in India,” explores the ways in which superpower aid competition in the newly independent nations revealed important elements — and key contradictions — of the global Cold War.
“The Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards in the country,” says Jane Kamensky, the Harry S. Truman Professor of American Civilization. “Only four American historians received the honor this year, and it is fitting that David Engerman is among them: His book project on the U.S. and India during the Cold War represents a bold departure for him, an expansion of his compass as a scholar. The Guggenheim recognizes careers in full flower and rewards scholars and artists who take exciting risks. The Foundation could not have chosen a more deserving recipient.”
Engerman is among 177 scholars, artists and scientists from 56 disciplines awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship this year, chosen from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $315 million in Fellowships to 17,700 scholars.
Nearly 100 Brandeis faculty and alumni have been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, including David DeRosier, professor emeritus of biology; Irving Epstein, Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry; Robin Feuer Miller, the Edytha Macy Gross Professor of Humanities; John Plotz, professor of English and Eric Chasalow, the Irving Fine Professor of Music.
President Frederick M. Lawrence and his wife Kathy hosted a dinner and discussion for Itzik Shmuli and Nachman Shai (Labor); Michal Rozin (Meretz); Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu); Shimon Solomon (Yesh Atid); and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi).
Joining them were Jay Ruderman ’88, Barbara Gaffin ’76, Alex Goldstein ’06 and Michal Bineth-Horowitz of the Ruderman Family Foundation, and several Brandeis faculty members and senior leaders: Amy Sales, associate professor; Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History; Ted Sasson, senior research scientist; Len Saxe, Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies; and David Bunis ’83, senior vice president, chief of staff and chief legal officer. Also attending the dinner were Brandeis alumni Jacqueline Hallo ’82, Lawrence Kraus ’84, Jonathan Landman ’82 and his wife Joan Balaban, Eric Nadel ’84, Marianne Paley ’85, and Sara Smolover ’82.
The Ruderman Fellows also had meetings with Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Marty Walsh, Congressman Michael Capuano and community leaders and participated in public forum in Boston before leaving for meetings in New York.
Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence, Vice Provost Irv Epstein, and several current and former Brandeis students met with members of President Obama’s administration in Washington yesterday to talk about Brandeis’ Science Posse program.
The meeting, sponsored by the White House and the Posse Foundation, focused on the work of the Posse Foundation to increase the number of undergraduate urban students who pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees. It also provided a forum for the presidents from 10 universities that have a Science Posse program to discuss best practices and program-related challenges.
Joining Lawrence and Epstein, the Henry F. Fischbach Professor of Chemistry, at the meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building were Nicholas Medina ’14, Aissatou Ka '13, Usman Hameedi '12, Gloriya Nedler '12, and Nana Owusu '12, who shared their thoughts on being a member of a Science Posse.
Brandeis alumna Deborah Bial ’87 founded the Posse Foundation in 1989 after witnessing the challenges inner-city students faced in accessing and graduating from college. In collaboration with Epstein, it created the first Science Posse program in the nation at Brandeis in 2006. Brandeis’ Science Posse has served as a national model and continues to be adopted by universities around the country.
"The Unfinished Bridge: Realism and Futurity in India," focuses on literature and cultural production in India since 2000 and discusses how novels, films and television engage social concerns even as the public sphere becomes increasingly gentrified.
Sohrabi will use the fellowship to receive training in cultural anthropology and ethnographic research methods for her new book project about the 1979 Iranian revolution. Her book aims to capture the experience of the revolution by weaving into the existing historical arc the experience of a wide array of political actors and ordinary people who were living in Iran in the years leading up to the revolution. As a New Directions fellow, Sohrabi will be receiving training and conducting research at The Sorbonne, University of Oxford and Iran.