Brandeisians Are Connected: The Culture of Mentorship

Photo of three people wearing face masks, standing in a laboratory
Mike Lovett
Shoshana Reich ’21 (left) with James Sheehy and Maria Eleni Moustaka, both PhD’22

Who: Shoshana Reich ’21, a chemistry major from Hollywood, Florida.

What she’s passionate about: Using chemistry to build complex and dynamic artificial systems that mimic nature in the way they move — for instance, a mechanically driven system that swims through the body to deliver lifesaving drugs.

What she’s discovered: “First, I love solving problems, even when they’re really hard. Even when I fail, I learn a lot. Second, I feel a kinship with my fellow problem-solvers in science. When I can work through a tough problem, it’s a really cool moment. The best thing? When I can help someone else understand something.”

Where she discovered this: In physics professor Seth Fraden’s lab. Fraden, PhD’87, leads Brandeis’ Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, an interdisciplinary program that creates new materials that mimic functions found in living organisms. For her senior thesis, Reich is researching the parameters of an oscillating chemical system found in nature to determine whether it can be reproduced mechanically.

Who’s on her team: In addition to Fraden, assistant professor of chemistry Rebecca Gieseking, chemistry professor Klaus Schmidt-Rohr, chemistry department chair Barry Snider, and grad students James Sheehy, PhD’22, and Maria Eleni Moustaka, PhD’22. “I honestly have a lot of mentors. They talk to me about science, and also about graduate school and career options.”

Next chapter of her story: “I would like to earn a PhD in chemistry and teach at the university level. I love the culture of mentorship in science.”

Actionable advice: “The important thing is balance. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, but also know when to give yourself a break. Take classes outside of science. Do things you love, even if they aren’t as strenuous as you think they should be.”