Around Campus

Prof. Eve Marder '69 named American Physiological Society FellowPosted: Sept. 1, 2015

Eve Marder ‘69, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience, has been named one of the inaugural fellows of the American Physiological Society.

Founded in 1887, the society fosters education, scientific research and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences. It has over 10,000 members, and its newly recognized fellows are a selective group of about 150. The first class of fellows was named in August.

Election as a fellow recognizes scientific and professional accomplishments, and outstanding leadership and service. To be considered, candidates must have been a member of the society for at least 15 years and receive two written recommendations from other current members of the society. Any active society members may submit nominations. The society’s fellows and its membership committee will review nominees annually.

Marder’s lab at Brandeis has been pioneering in studying the nervous system’s basic functions. Her use of crustaceans to study neurons has led to groundbreaking neuroscience discoveries. The fellowship is the latest in a long list of awards and recognitions she has received for her scientific contributions.

More information and a full list of the inaugural fellows can be found on the American Physiological Society's website.

Princeton Review ranks Brandeis first in the US for student community service Posted: Aug. 6, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

Brandeis University was named the top-ranked college for student engagement in community service by Princeton Review, a recognition of Brandeis’ longstanding commitment to social justice and giving back.

“It’s so rewarding to see our students being celebrated for their commitment and service to the community,” says Lucas Malo, director of the department of community service at Brandeis. “Student leadership here is unique. The mission of our institution attracts students who actively engage in their communities.”

Under the mantra of “Within Community Comes Unity,” Malo oversees all clubs and organizations that provide service to the local, national and global communities. The Waltham Group, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016 and is the largest student community service organization at Brandeis, logged more than 45,000 hours of community service with more than 1,500 students serving as volunteers this past academic year. Other student-led organizations, such as the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps Organization and Student Athlete Advisory Committee, also logged hundreds of hours worth of service to the community.

“Our students work for a variety of causes, both through advocacy and direct service,” said Malo. “I am inspired by their passion and commitment.”

The Princeton Review rankings are based on survey responses by 136,000 students at 380 colleges. This is the first year that it assessed student engagement in community service. Brandeis also was ranked as the 16th most LGBQT-friendly campus, a reflection, in part, of the work of the women and gender studies program and the Gender and Sexuality Center.

Representatives of Brandeis fly on El Al’s maiden Boston to Tel Aviv flightPosted: July 7, 2015
Photo/Rise Singer
Twenty-five representatives of Brandeis’ Summer Institute for Israel Studies were on board the inaugural El Al fight from Boston to Tel Aviv on June 28.
Each year, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University runs the Summer Institute for Israel Studies, a fellowship program that brings between 20 and 25 faculty members from universities around the world to Israel for an academic study tour. Prior to this new, direct flight, participants in the program, which also includes a two-week intensive seminar on the Brandeis campus, had to waste hours of travel time by connecting in New York City.
"The establishment of direct flights from Boston to Tel Aviv marks another step in the continuing development of ties between Massachusetts and Israel, two significant destinations for tourism, business, and education,” said Professor Ilan Troen, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies founding director and Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies at Brandeis University. “The flight itself was wonderful. Great service, comfortable and stress free. All we need now is daily service!”
The fellows, accompanied by Troen and doctoral students Amber Taylor and Ari Moshkovski, are all currently in Israel following their 11-hour, transcontinental journey on board a Boeing 767. During the study tour, they are meeting with Israeli scholars, government officials, writers and artists, as well as visiting historic, religious and cultural sites. The program’s goal is for the faculty participants to bring their experiences both at Brandeis and abroad into the classroom, creating and teaching courses at their home universities exploring Israel through the lens of each educator’s respective discipline.
El Al held a launch party at the gate before departure, handing out gifts and refreshments. Numerous public officials were on hand, including Dan Shapiro, a Brandeis alumnus and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Shapiro said that the new route showcased the U.S. and Israel’s strong ties, adding that it’s a sign of the “friendship between the US and Israel.”
Hebrew College awards honorary doctorates to Brettler, ReinharzPosted: June 2, 2015

From left, Hebrew College president Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Shulamit Reinharz and Marc Brettler

Hebrew College presented honorary doctoral degrees to Marc Brettler, the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, and Shulamit Reinharz, the Jacob Potofsky Chair of Sociology, during the college’s 90th commencement exercises.

Brettler was honored for his groundbreaking biblical scholarship, deep commitment to Jewish education and “masterful” instruction in Hebrew College’s signature adult-learning program, Me’ah.

Reinharz was cited for her distinguished academic leadership and commitment to the advancement of social-science research, especially in the areas of Jewish gender, women’s studies and Zionism.

In 2012, Hebrew College conferred an honorary doctorate on Reinharz’s husband, Jehuda, former president at Brandeis.

Hebrew College was founded in 1921 to promote excellence in Jewish learning and leadership within a pluralistic environment of open inquiry, intellectual rigor, personal engagement and spiritual creativity. Based in Newton Centre, Massachusetts, the school empowers and inspires individuals to contribute their voices and vision to the Jewish community and to bring Jewish values to bear on the critical contemporary issues.

Ira Gessel celebrated as teacher and mathematicianPosted: May 14, 2015

Patient and generous — that is how friends, colleagues and former and current students described Ira Gessel, the Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor of Mathematics, who is retiring after more than 30 years at Brandeis University.

Gessel’s career and significant contributions to mathematics and the field of combinatorics were honored at a conference and dinner on Friday May 8, 2015.

Wessel with students
Gessel, fourth from left, with current and former students 
photo/Jordan Tirrell 

“It’s hard to imagine the department without Ira,” said Daniel Ruberman, chair of the mathematics department. “Not only is Ira a great mathematician but he’s also been a great citizen of the department. He is always willing to sit down with students and colleagues. Every time I walked by his office, there was also someone in there with him.”

“Ira was an incredibly patient teacher,” said Matthew Moynihan, PhD’12. “He would give me a problem to solve and suggest a few ways to solve it. Then, I would work on it for a month, finally figure it out and realize that Ira had suggested the right solution weeks ago but he wanted me to figure it out on my own.”

Andrew Gainer-Dewar, PhD’12, had the same experience.

“He never pushed you toward one solution. He always wanted you to discover the solution on your own — even if he already figured it out,” Gainer-Dewar said.

Gessel had his own way of gently correcting or pushing his students toward the right answer, said Yan Zhuang, PhD’16.

“I know I’ve said something totally wrong when Ira says, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ or ‘Something like that might be true,’” Zhuang recounted, with a laugh.

“If he said, ‘I don’t know what you mean by that, can you explain it,’ I knew I said something really wrong,” said Jordan Tirrell, PhD’16.

That patience extended to undergraduate students as well.

“He treats undergraduates with the same respect and kindness as he treats graduate students,” Jiaqi Gu ’16 said. “He has spent a lot of time with me, going over problems and concepts.”

The mathematics department honored Gessel’s commitment to his students with a framed genealogy poster — an academic family tree — of all of Gessel’s mathematical decedents.

Brandeis SPECTRUM wins 'Shining Star' award from Waltham parent councilPosted: May 12, 2015

Brandeis student volunteers and some of the Waltham Public Schools students they worked with in SPECTRUM.

Brandeis SPECTRUM, a group that builds relationships between Brandeis students and children with disabilities and their families, was recognized with a Shining Star Award from the Waltham Public Schools Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

SPECTRUM consists of three programs: playgroup, tutoring and mentoring. Playgroup focuses on building and developing social skills among a group of children on Sundays. The tutoring program matches children from the community with Brandeis students to work on academic work the children choose. Mentoring focuses on developing a social relationship between a Brandeis student and an older child. SPECTRUM is also developing a new program at the Prospect Hill Community Center. 

The group also joined with Brandeis Buddies, another Waltham Group program, to hold the second annual “Spread the Word to End the Word” event in March. This campaign was started by Special Olympics to put an end to the use of the "R-words" in everyday language. 

The Shining Star Awards are presented at an annual reception in May to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated exemplary service and dedication in their effort to include children with special needs in the Waltham community. 

A parent of a Waltham student tutored by Kathryn Semerau '17 nominated the group. SPECTRUM is coordinated by a group of student leaders, including Benji Bernstein '15, Danielle Flaum '15, Lekha Grandhi '16, Daniel Kats '16, Sejal Kotecha '17 and Jackson Tuck '17.

Turrigiano named to new chairPosted: April 28, 2015
Professor Gina Turrigiano has been named the inaugural Joseph J. Levitan Chair in Visual Sciences for her research on how neural networks constantly “fine-tune” themselves even as they provide neuronal stability.
In honor of the appointment, Turrigiano will deliver a lecture titled “Self-Tuning Neurons and Brain Stability,” in Rapaporte Treasure Hall at 4:30 p.m. on April 30.
“In addition to being an outstanding scientist who is making great strides in understanding a fundamental problem in neuroscience, Gina is deeply committed to Brandeis,” says Susan Birren, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of neurobiology. “She is an excellent teacher and scientific mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students, and is a leader in our neuroscience community.”
The Joseph J. Levitan Chair in Visual Sciences was established through a gift from the late Dr. Levitan, a generous friend of Brandeis University and an optometrist with a lifelong interest in visual sciences.
TripAdvisor CEO and co-founder visits BrandeisPosted: April 23, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

Steve Kaufer P ’13, the current CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, visited Brandeis on April 22.
Kaufer hosted a talk inside the Presentation Room of the Shapiro Admission Center about his experiences with starting up TripAdvisor, now one of the world’s most established, recognized and acclaimed travel review websites. Under Kaufer’s guidance, TripAdvisor has grown into the largest travel site in the world and the largest web 2.0 company in the northeast. He outlined his experiences—both his successes and obstacles he's had to overcome—to a packed audience.

Before Kaufer founded TripAdvisor in 2000, he worked and co-founded software companies. He also won the 2005 Ernst & Young Entreprenuer of the Year Award. 

The event was sponsored by the Hiatt Career Center.

Brandeis expands online course offerings with Learning Analytics graduate certificatePosted: April 14, 2015
Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) will launch a fully-online graduate certificate program in Learning Analytics in September 2015, the university announced today.

Designed to be completed in 1.5 years or less, the program is for professionals with strong backgrounds in education, instructional design, or institutional research. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the certificate will provide students with the foundational tool sets and theory of business intelligence and data analysis. These skillsets are necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of courses, programs and instruction, and prepare students to fill a highly in-demand skills gap in a burgeoning job market.

“As the learning analytics field continues to evolve, it is more important than ever before to use the technology and data we have available to us to understand and, ultimately, enhance the learning experience,” said Brian Salerno, director of Online Learning and Instructional Design at Brandeis GPS.

The five-course, 15-credit certificate program draws heavily from two existing Brandeis GPS master’s degrees: Instructional Design and Technology and Strategic Analytics. Applicants are expected to possess a post-graduate degree in a related field as well as three years of relevant work experience.

In addition to the new Learning Analytics certificate, Brandeis GPS offers eight fully online part-time master’s degrees, including Strategic Analytics, Bioinformatics, Health and Medical Informatics, Instructional Design & Technology, and Software Engineering. All Brandeis GPS programs are asynchronous, providing students with a flexible and convenient approach to completing their degree.

Students interested in applying to the Learning Analytics certificate program should complete their application by Aug. 11, 2015. Students also have the opportunity to take a course prior to applying for admission. Registration for the summer 2015 term opens on April 14, with courses beginning May 20. For more information about Brandeis GPS, please visit
Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry visits Brandeis studentsPosted: April 14, 2015
Photo/Jarret Bencks

Finance executive and owner of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry visited the Brandeis University campus Monday, where he spoke to students about finance, the business of basketball and offered some advice.

"Find the things you really love, because whatever you love you will succeed in," he said.

Lasry is the chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group, which was established in 1995 and now manages approximately $13 billion in assets. He and Wesley Edens purchased the Bucks in 2014.

Monday's event, held in Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, was co-sponsored by Brandeis Athletics and the Hiatt Career Center. Lasry met with student-athletes in Auerbach Arena, then spoke and took questions from students in the Napoli Trophy Room.

Donahue honored, awarded research and teaching grantPosted: April 14, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett
The Bay State Historical League honored Brian Donahue, professor and chair of the environmental studies program, with the 2015 Bay State Legacy Award for his research on New England forestry and farming. The award is conferred to honor contributions to the interpretation and public presentation of Massachusetts’ history.
Last summer, Donahue was the lead writer of “A New England Food Vision,” an agricultural plan for the region to produce half its own food by 2060 by re-purposing forests and pastures.
In addition, the Thoreau Foundation has awarded Donahue and a $31,000 grant to support undergraduate research in Walden Woods. Donahue will use part of the grant to expand undergraduate field teaching and research at Brandeis.