Educational Outreach for K-12 Teachers


Brandeis Scientists in the Classroom

Once a month, Brandeis scientists from diverse backgrounds travel to Waltham High School for "Science Pizza Talks" to share their unique personal journeys into science careers at while high school students ask questions and enjoy free pizza.

What Teachers Say About the Series

Upcoming Events

Aldric Rosario
Aldric Rosario, Graduate student at Brandeis University

April 29, 2021

Aldric is a third-year Physics PhD student in the Goode and Kondev Labs at Brandeis University. During Aldric’s talk, he will share his journey from his hometown of Trichy – in Tamil Nadu, India – to Chennai, where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from IIT-Madras, to his current research at Brandeis. 

Aldric’s research involves computer simulations, mathematics and statistics, cell biology experiments, and the use of fancy microscopes, as he tries to uncover processes by which cells control the size of their subunits/organelles. Understanding how cells make their organelles a particular size would help us understand how we develop body parts of specific sizes.

Brandeis MRSEC YouTube

Past Events

Kanaya Malakar
Kanaya Malakar, Graduate student at Brandeis University

March 24, 2021

Kanaya Malakar is a Ph.D. student in the Chakraborty Lab at Brandeis University. As a student in the Physics Department, Kanaya studies active matter. Active matter is a field that focuses on the behavior of living systems as a result of the movements of individual components. Examples of active systems are all around us - flocks of birds moving individually but as a group, pedestrians navigating through a crowded street, bacterial colonies, or even in our own cells.

In Kanaya's talk, she shared her journey into science, discussed the colorful field of active matter, and talked about her experience as a female student from India.

Brandeis MRSEC YouTube

Youngmin Park
Dr. Youngmin Park, Postdoctoral Fellow at Brandeis University

February 24, 2021

Youngmin Park is a second-year postdoc at Brandeis. He attended Case Western Reserve University where he earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Applied Math, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for his PhD in Math. Youngmin's research involves neuroscience and using mathematics to understand how brains work.

In his talk, he shared his story of his lifelong struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and how learning to think like a scientist helped him understand the science behind ADHD.

Brandeis MRSEC YouTube

Debora Tenenbaum
Debora Tenenbaum, Graduate student at Brandeis University

January 21, 2021

Debora Tenenbaum is a fifth-year Physics PhD student at Brandeis University. Born and raised in Argentina, she attended the University of Buenos Aires, where she earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Physics. During her undergraduate years, Debora carried on research projects in optics and computational biophysics, and organized science demonstrations for high school students and teachers. For her graduate work, she is using a pretty complicated microscope to study the processes involved in the regulation of gene expression. In her talk, Debora shared insights on her journey into science and the latest on her current research. 
Spanish-language Brandeis MRSEC YouTube

Denis Paterson
Dr. Denis Paterson, Postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University

December 17, 2020

Dr. Denis Patterson is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mathematics at Brandeis University and at the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University. He uses mathematics to model real-world systems in ecology and biology. Denis is originally from Ireland, where he studied for his PhD in applied mathematics. He moved to the US two years ago to collaborate with other science researchers to solve problems using mathematical modeling. He is currently working on models of tropical savannas and forests to assess the potential impacts of climate change on these important ecosystems. 
Brandeis MRSEC YouTube
Eric Olson
Dr. Eric Olson, Professor of Ecology

November 19, 2020

Dr. Eric Olson is an Ecology Professor who recently retired from Brandeis University. Originally from Wisconsin, Eric completed a bachelor’s degree in geology before working as an environmental educator in South America. During grad school, he was able to study a passion from his youth: butterfly and moth caterpillars. While on a research trip in Central America as an ecology professor,  Eric discovered a “vegetarian” spider that largely feeds on yellow nutrient-rich leaf pellets of a particular kind of acacia tree. 
Brandeis MRSEC YouTube

Janet Orozco
Janet Orozco, Undergraduate student at Brandeis University

October 22, 2020

Janet Orozco shared her journey from Waltham High School student to conducting neuroscience research at Brandeis University. During her talk, Janet described what drew her to neuroscience research and how her work relates to cutting edge research. As a Brandeis undergraduate, she is studying schizophrenia in the Lisman Lab. Outside of the lab, she is a coordinator for a community service group on campus and also part of the Technology Research Interdisciplinary Groups which delves into the novel human-machine learning field. As someone who is passionate about giving back to the community, Janet wanted to use her scientific skills to tackle challenges people face day-to-day. 
Thomas Fai
Thomas Fai, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

May 28, 2020

Professor Thomas Fai shared his inspiring personal journey into science with high school students as part of the series, The Brandeis MRSEC Science Pizza Talks. Professor Fai earned his PhD in 2014 at the Courant Institute, advised by Charles Peskin. He was subsequently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard SEAS. Since 2018, he has been an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Brandeis University. His research is focused on problems in mathematical biology, computational fluid dynamics, and applied probability.
Brandeis MRSEC YouTube
Víctor Manuel Suárez
Víctor Manuel Suárez, PhD student at Brandeis University

March 19, 2020

Víctor Manuel Suárez is a first-year neuroscience Ph.D. student at Brandeis University. Originally from Bolivia, he has investigated a range of scientific-research topics but is most interested in those related to injury and disease. He completed his bachelor’s degree in molecular biology with minors in chemistry and mathematics. During his undergraduate years, he was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities including scientific outreach and recruitment. Now, Víctor Manuel will share his experiences as a first-generation, Latinx science student.
Emmanuel José Rivera Rodríguez
Emmanuel José Rivera Rodríguez, PhD student at Brandeis University

February 13, 2020

Emmanuel José Rivera Rodríguez, whose talk was in Spanish, is a PhD student of the Neuroscience Program at Brandeis University. As part of his research, Emmanuel studies sleep and how sleep is regulated by changes in genetic expression in the brain. Emmanuel studied at the undergraduate level and then obtained his master's degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico. During that time, his research work sought to understand the processes of sleep, memory and learning, using various animal models, including the fruit fly, the honeybee and different species of wasps. In his talk, Emmanuel discussed his experience as a first-generation graduate student and what this represents for him and his community. He also discussed his experience as a Latino, pursuing graduate studies away from his home, Puerto Rico.
Ines Patop
Ines Patop, PhD student at Brandeis University

January 30, 2020

Ines Patop is a PhD student at Brandeis University. She studies how cells in the brain code information and how they differ from one another.

Originally from Argentina, she studied art, music, anthropology and biology, but she was not sure how she would combine all of her interests into a career until she learned about synthetic biology, a field that mixed art, communication and science. Once engaged in the work, she realized it also required creativity and teamwork. To her delight, she realized that the common belief, that scientists are boring and never left the lab, was wrong and did not match her lived reality.

After graduating, she did what she always wanted to do: travel the world and do science. She started her PhD in Israel, went next to Berlin and is now in the US at Brandeis. She is passionate about biology and how cells organize. She loves teaching, teamwork and science communication.
Joyce Rigal, 4th year PhD candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Brandeis University

December 12, 2019

Ph.D. candidate Joyce Rigal, whose talk will be in Spanish, will share how science was the engine that drove her from Mexico to the United States. Having been raised and studied between Mexico and the United States, science has been the dream, the goal and the constant tool that has opened a world of opportunities for it.

She is currently in her 4th year of a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Brandeis University, where she works to discover the molecular level interconnection between aging and cellular stress using fruit flies as a study model. Her goal is to be a science teacher at the university level to help students develop their potential and achieve their goals.
Michelle Langton
Michelle Langton, 4th-Year Biochemistry PhD Student at Brandeis University

November 21, 2019

Michelle Langton is a fourth year Biochemistry PhD student at Brandeis University. She studies the function of metal containing proteins and how they could be used as medicines for diseases.

It was not until her junior year of high school that Michelle even considered a scientific career path. She had been interested in a career in journalism, but then she took her first chemistry class. She was surrounded by curious classmates and a teacher who made learning fun. That energy hooked her. During her undergraduate degree, although Michelle worked on a scientific project that she didn’t love, she was introduced to people that helped push her forward. Michelle will be sharing how the scientific family around her continually reminded her to drive her own reaction forward and pursue her passion for making a difference.
Claire Symanski
Claire Symanski, Doctoral Candidate at Brandeis University

October 17, 2019

How do you remember your favorite song, or the smell that brings you back to your childhood?

Claire Symanski, a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University, is attempting to find
answers to these questions through her research on memory across different regions of the brain. In her experiments, she trains rats to run mazes in order to understand what happens in their brains as they recall familiar cues.

Although Claire got her first taste of lab work while she was an undergraduate at The College of New Jersey, it wasn’t until she left her comfort zone and did some serious “soul searching” that she found the work and scientific questions that inspire her. Claire’s journey in science is about building self confidence, developing her weaknesses into strengths, and following her passions to find work that she loves.

Raúl Ramos, a PhD student in Neuroscience at Brandeis University

May 30, 2019

Raúl Ramos, who delivered his presentation in Spanish, is a PhD student in Neuroscience at Brandeis University. His work seeks to understand how neurons maintain their stability even in the presence of changes caused by learning.

Raúl completed his undergraduate studies at Texas A&M International University, where he worked on several research projects, among which were studies on the psychological effects of exposure to violence in the media. Today, Raúl will tell us about how he overcame a disadvantaged background and his journey to the world of science.

Adrianna Shy, 2nd-year chemistry grad student at Brandeis
Adrianna Shy, 2nd-Year Chemistry Graduate Student at Brandeis University

May 23, 2019

Adrianna's research goal is to create materials that are compatible with the body and can be used to fight cancer or antibiotic-resistant infections.

Adriana is from a small town in Georgia and fell in love with crime shows as a kid. From there, she knew she wanted to pursue a science career, but she was not sure which discipline was the right fit for her because deciding what to do for the rest of your life can be tough! Adrianna will share her ongoing journey in science and show how pursuing a science degree can open doors for a promising future.

Bradly Stone, doctoral candidate in neuroscience at Brandeis University
Bradly Stone, Doctoral Candidate at Brandeis University

April 11, 2019

Bradly Stone is a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University who investigates how internal body states (like being sick) can alter communication between neurons and how we perceive foods. This work helps us understand how an individual’s well-being shapes neural networks and thus guides human behavior.

Bradly’s path into this research has taken time: he first worked for five years in the California biotech industry before even pursuing a higher-education degree. During that time, he used brain imaging to help provide client-focused treatment to people with post-traumatic stress injuries. By studying what areas of the brain were impacted by stress, he became fascinated with the the underpinnings of neural communications and wanted to learn more about localized regions of the brain. Come hear Bradly’s story about how the field of neuroscience drove him to leave California to pursue graduate school in Massachusetts.

Kate Kimbrell, doctoral candidate
Katie Kimbrell, Doctoral Candidate at Brandeis

March 14, 2019

Katie Kimbrell is a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University who works with rodents to understand how a molecule that alters connections between neurons also affects social learning and memory.

Katie is not only a scientific researcher, but she is also a highly trained fine artist. In fact, she discovered science through her art. After graduating from MassArt with a focus in abstract painting, she became inspired by the point where life becomes abstract, and for her that meant the fascinating world of molecules and cells. Katie’s passion for science grew the more she learned and gained hands-on experience working in a lab at UMass Boston. Come hear her story about how an artistic lens led Katie to love molecules and animal behavior and now complements and contributes to her scientific research.

Joey Flyer-Adams, doctoral candidate in neuroscience
Joey Flyer-Adams, Doctoral Candidate in Neuroscience at Brandeis

February 14, 2019

Joey Flyer-Adams is a doctoral candidate in neuroscience at Brandeis University where she uses fruit flies to study how your circadian clock affects your learning and memory. When not messing with fruit fly genetics or fancy microscopes, Joey is a fellow with the Brandeis Science Communications Lab where she is a coach of effective visual, written and oral scientific content. Joey is also the inventor of FlyBuilder, a teaching tool and curriculum that helps students understand the theoretical and practical aspects of working with genetically altered fruit flies.

Not too shabby for a college dropout, right? Come hear Joey talk about how amnesia, art and willful independence helped her forge a nontraditional path, and how her hobbies became assets for a successful scientific career.

Chris Konow
Chris Konow, 2nd-Year Graduate Student in Chemistry Department

January 24, 2019

Chris Konow is a second-year graduate student in the chemistry department at Brandeis University. His research uses chemistry to look at a complicated biological phenomenon in a much simpler way. By studying the impact of growth on the types of patterns and how they form, he can better understand how a zebra got its stripes, a leopard his spots and many other animals’ skin patterns.

The exploratory type of research that Chris performs mirrors the path he took to becoming a doctoral student. Coming from a small farm town, college was a way for him to explore many new places and ideas. Studying chemistry not only allowed him to perform his own research but also provided him the opportunity to travel and see the world in a new way. Chris will share how science has been a vehicle that drove him out of his comfort zone and into many exciting adventures, both in the lab and around the world.

Janna Lowensohn
Janna Lowensohn, 3rd-Year Graduate Student, Physics

December 5, 2018

Janna Lowensohn is in her third year of graduate school in the physics department of Brandeis University. Her research involves writing DNA sequences and then looking at the ways she can use those DNA sequences as a specialized glue.

While she is pursuing a doctorate in physics now, she originally thought she would become a lawyer fighting for civil rights. In college, a lobbying firm never got back to her about doing an internship with them, so she “settled” on a science-research job instead of living at home for the summer. Her love of lab work quickly made it clear that she would rather be struggling through research than gliding through constitutional law. Janna will share how one scrappy Californian’s first taste of research in Georgia led to an endless need for more data in Massachusetts, and how not having a plan led to a unique and promising career choice.

Rey Aguilar Lopez
Rey Aguilar Lopez, 2nd-Year Doctoral Student at Brandeis

February 6, 2018

Rey Aguilar Lopez is a second-year doctoral student at Brandeis University. Using genetics, biochemistry and microscopy, Rey researches the change and reconstruction of cellular actin cytoskeletons, a process important for cell division, migration and trafficking. But this was not always the role he imagined for himself growing up in California, despite always being fascinated by the intricacies of life, because his hometown had infinite opportunities to go astray. The journey into science for Rey has been full of hardships, changes of direction and ultimately a realization of what excites him the most and how he wants to get there. He will be sharing how life has challenged him, how he overcame those challenges in spite of the odds, and what dreams and science he pursues today.

Herlyne Das
Herlyne Das, Brandeis Senior

January 11, 2018

Herlyne Das is an alumna of Waltham High School and current senior at Brandeis University, double majoring in biology and HSSP (Health Science Society Policy) with a minor in chemistry within the pre-med track. She plans to apply to medical school after this year and become a cardiologist. She is extremely excited to come back to WHS and share her story of how she is invested in giving back to others through a career in medicine, and how at every stage the help she has received was critical to her success.

Kelsey, doctoral student in physics
Kelsey, 4th-Year Physics Doctoral Student in the Experimental High Energy Group at Brandeis

October 5, 2017

Inspired by the wonders of space since high school, Kelsey is curious about the most fundamental questions in the universe. She studied space physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and then began her research career by studying electric propulsion at NASA/Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and worked on mapping the plasma plume from the ion thrusters. She is now a fourth-year physics doctoral student in the Experimental High Energy Group at Brandeis University. At Brandeis she works on the ATLAS detector at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) and studies the smallest objects in the universe in order to answer some of the most basic questions in nature. In her talk, Kelsey will share what first inspired her to go into science and what still excites her about physics.

Gabe Bronk
Gabe Bronk, Doctoral Student in Physics

December 4, 2017

Gabe Bronk is doctoral student in physics at Brandeis University, where he does research in computational biophysics. Gabe finds biophysics awe-inspiring since biophysics research unveils how the simple laws of physics cause life to exist. Gabe will discuss how computer simulations are used to study biology and how students can get involved in this hot new field of research when they go to college. Gabe will also describe what a random walk is and demonstrate how to create a sample simulation.

Joyce Rigal
Joyce Rigal, Doctoral Candidate

November 2, 2017

PhD candidate Joyce Rigal will share how science was the motor that brought her from Mexico to the U.S. As a Mexican-American and first-generation college student, science has been the dream, the goal and the one constant that has opened every door. She is now a second-year doctoral student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at Brandeis University. Before graduate school, she lived and worked in Mexico and had the opportunity to have research experiences in topics ranging from biofuel production using algae to studying genes potentially involved in multi-drug resistance in tuberculosis. She is now doing research at the molecular level to determine the connection between stress and aging using the common fruit fly. Her dream is to become a science college professor and help students achieve their goals.

Emmanuel J. Rivera-Rodriguez
Emmanuel J. Rivera-Rodríguez, 2nd-Year Doctoral Candidate

May 9, 2017

Emmanuel J. Rivera-Rodríguez is a second year doctoral student at Brandeis University. He studies sleep and how it is affected by genetic changes in the brain. He completed his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, where he researched sleep, learning and memory using insect models that included fruit flies, honey bees and wasps. During his talk, he will share his journey as a first-generation student going into scientific research and what it means to him — particularly as a Hispanic student — to pursue graduate studies so far from home.

Dr. Achini Opathalage
Dr. Achini Opathalage, Postdoctoral Research Associate

March 30, 2017

Dr. Achini Opathalage is a postdoctoral research associate in the physics department at Brandeis University. She conducts experiments to characterize bio-materials made from proteins. She earned her doctorate in physics at Brandeis University and completed her bachelors degree in physics in Sri Lanka, a country in South Asia. Achini is going to talk about her journey to becoming a material scientist.

Professor Paul Miller
Professor Paul Miller, Neuroscience Professor

Professor Paul Miller will talk about his journey to becoming a neuroscience professor after considering careers as a teacher, priest(!) and physicist. At each step along the way, he was guided by his curiosity to learn and his drive to do work that is important and valuable to people.

While he initially trained in physics, he later switched and retrained in neuroscience and now studies how neurons coordinate to help us learn, think and make rational decisions. He became a professor because he “didn’t like being told what to do by others;” he aimed for a career where he would be his own boss. He finds that working as a university professor allows him to have a lot of flexibility in what he spends his time doing: investigating and studying problems in neuroscience that interest him, advocating for sustainable practices to combat climate change, writing a book and even choosing what he teaches. Being a professor allows him to “change jobs” without needing to ever change a job again. And most importantly, he is able to keep learning new things.

Physics PhD candidate Joia Miller
Physics PhD Candidate Joia Miller

December 8, 2016

Physics PhD candidate Joia Miller will talk about moving from rural Wisconsin to study the physics of soft materials at Brandeis University. She will describe how she had always been passionate about literature and theatre but realized how amazing physics could be during high school. She then had the opportunity to explore all three interests at a small liberal arts college before choosing physics as her area of focus and moving to Waltham to earn her PhD. Joia studies materials that are between the liquid and solid phases but not quite either. Specifically, she studies how tiny changes in the interactions between the particles in the material can lead to interesting differences in the behavior of the material. She'll talk about how this control is useful for physics research and for developing new materials for commercial use.

Dr. Eric James
Eric James, PhD

October 6, 2016

Dr. Eric James will share the story of his unusual path to becoming a neuroscientist. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. James has served as a United States marine, firefighter/EMT and primary school teacher, and will share how these diverse careers were the spark for his passion for neuroscience research and scholarship. He will talk about his research and work with student-mentoring organizations and focus on the skills and concepts that help in college and beyond. As an undergraduate, Dr. James studied psychology and biology at St. John’s University, and went on to complete his doctorate in neuroscience at Brown University where he studied brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders using tadpoles. In his current position as a postdoctoral research associate at Brandeis University, Dr. James uses the nervous systems of crabs to study how circuits in the brain function and adapt to change.

Andrew Balchunas
Andrew Balchunas, PhD Candidate in Physics

April 14, 2016

Andrew Balchunas, a PhD candidate in physics at Brandeis University, will discuss what excites him about current physics research and how it could lead to the development of new materials with applications in medicine or textiles. Growing up in Boston, he spent most of his free time in the city or playing video games but became serious about science after taking physics in high school. Andrew explored astrophysics as an undergraduate, but he decided to pursue other physics research when he heard about research being done at Brandeis that was particularly interesting. Andrew is fascinated by materials that cannot be classified strictly as a solid, liquid or gas. It turns out that these materials have interactions between individual particles, on a molecular scale, that bring about interesting effects at larger scales. He will discuss how these materials work and why companies looking to manufacture the “next big thing” are so interested in this research.

Julia Schiantarelli and Omar Scruggs
A Brandeis Undergraduate Research Scientist Panel

February 23, 2016

A Brandeis undergraduate research scientist panel with Julia Schiantarelli and Omar Scruggs.

Bernard Hishamunda
Doctoral Candidate Bernard Hishamunda

April 29, 1014

PhD candidate Bernard Hishamunda will share the story of his journey from Rwanda, a small country in East Africa, to studying soft matter physics at Brandeis University. Throughout his training, he has pursued his joint interests in business and science: first as a business owner while pursuing his physics bachelor’s degree; and now as he takes finance classes and participates in consulting ventures while pursuing his physics doctorate. During this talk he will describe what drew him to science and how his current work relates to cutting edge science and business applications.

As an undergraduate, he studied applied physics, created a physics club and was involved in various engineering ventures across the country. He then worked as an information technology manager for a Rwandan hotel. As someone who likes solving problems, he wants to use his scientific skills and business acumen to tackle tomorrow's institutional and organizational challenges.

PhD candidate Veronica Flores
PhD Candidate Veronica Flores

March 10, 2016

PhD candidate Veronica Flores will share her story of how she found her niche in science. She will talk about the “ups and downs” she’s experienced in science as a first-generation college graduate with immigrant parents from Central America. Veronica will speak about why she thinks mentorship is a huge key to success and how her high school mentors helped her to reach once unimaginable goals! Veronica will share how her work with birds, rodents, monkeys and humans helped her find which questions in science are the most fascinating to her.

As an undergraduate, she studied how song birds remember, make and learn their songs that they pass on for generations. After college, she switched to studying humans and monkeys to investigate how the brain is affected by diabetes. Currently at Brandeis, Veronica uses rats to explore how each taste experience helps form our food preferences. Even now as a student herself, she is a mentor to 10 undergraduates at Brandeis and helps them find their way in STEM. In the future, Veronica would love to be a college professor to mentor and support future students to help them find the science research that excites them.

Madalen Diaz
Madelen Díaz, Doctoral Candidate

December 15, 2015

PhD candidate Madelen Díaz will share her story of how a first-generation Hispanic-American is now pursuing her dream of becoming a neuroscientist. She’ll share how her experiences of growing up in Miami influenced her decision to go to graduate school in Boston. She’ll talk about previous and current neuroscience projects and how you can be involved as a high school student and undergraduate student.

Madelen is currently a third-year PhD neuroscience student in the Rosbash Lab at Brandeis University. Before graduate school, she attended Miami-Dade Honors College and transferred to the University of Miami with a full research scholarship. Madelen began her research career as a college freshman in Miami Children’s Hospital, where the goal was to more accurately predict the source of epileptic seizures. She worked with actual patient data and a team of clinicians, but because she was doing clinical research, a lot of the basic questions at the molecular level were left unanswered. Madelen is now working on the other end of the spectrum using the fruit fly as a model organism to investigate the inner mechanism of the biological clock. Madelen’s ultimate goal is to become a neuroscience professor and mentor students with a passion for science.

Linnea Metcalf
Linnea Metcalf, Doctoral Student

November 19, 2015

PhD student Linnea Metcalf will share the story of her path into science. She will discuss the challenges of working in a male-dominated field and the exciting experiences that led her to a career in physics. She will talk about her work that aims to both answer the fundamental questions about the laws of physics and to have applications in the fields of technology, medicine and robotics. Most importantly, she will talk about how you can get involved in cuttng-edge research.

Linnea is now a first-year doctoral student in the physics program at Brandeis University. Before Brandeis, she studied at Johns Hopkins University, researching the structural properties of liquid crystals — the materials behind LCD televisions and other electronic displays. She is now working with oscillating chemical networks as part of a larger project to create a chemically fueled robot that moves like a small fish. Her work is part of a field called soft robotics. In the future, Linnea plans to do research at either a university or a technology company.

Laura Laranjo
PhD Candidate Laura Laranjo

October 20, 2015

PhD candidate Laura Laranjo will share with you the obstacles she overcame to get to where she is now. She will talk about the challenges she faced as an immigrant student — with no English background — and the fun experiences she had during her path into science. She will talk about her previous and current scientific research in DNA damage and how YOU can pursue research as a high school student or as an undergraduate student.

She is now a second year doctoral student in the molecular and cellular biology program at Brandeis University. Prior to Brandeis, Laura worked at Northeastern University creating a biosensor capable of measuring glucose levels in the perspiration system. At UMass Lowell, Laura analyzed lamprey brains and studied TAU protein, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In her current lab, Laura uses E. coli and yeast in her research to study how human mutations are avoided. Cancer, muscular dystrophy and bone-related diseases have been associated with one of the mutations she is investigating. Further down the road, Laura wants to become a college professor so she can keep motivating students to pursue science.

Brandeis and Waltham Middle Schools: Science Pizza Talks

Due to the success of the Waltham High School Pizza Talk series, the Brandeis MRSEC was invited to expand the series into the Waltham Middle Schools.

Chloe Greppi
Chloe Greppi, PhD Candidate

February 25, 2016

PhD candidate Chloe Greppi will share with you her journey to graduate school in the sciences. She will talk about how she changed her career goals many times over the course of middle/high school and college to ultimately pursue research. She will talk about her previous work in neurobiology and development, and her current work in mosquitoes and what YOU can do to get research experience and opportunities.

She is now a second-year doctoral student in the molecular and cellular biology program at Brandeis University. Prior to Brandeis, Chloe worked as a technician in the Stem Cell Department of Harvard University studying early brain development. As a student at Northeastern University, she had a chance to explore research in biotech companies and work on figuring out the 3D structure of molecules. Now, Chloe studies mosquitoes to understand how they sense their environment, and how that information helps them find hosts to bite. This is especially important for mosquitoes who spread diseases like malaria and yellow fever. In the future, Chloe hopes to become a high school biology teacher so she can get students excited about science.

Laura Laranjo
PhD Candidate Laura Laranjo

December 8, 2015

PhD candidate Laura Laranjo will share with you the obstacles she overcame to get to where she is now. She will talk about the challenges she faced as an immigrant student — with no English background — and the fun experiences she had during her path into science. She will talk about her previous and current scientific research in DNA damage and how YOU can pursue research as a high school student or as an undergraduate student.

She is now a second year doctoral student in the molecular and cellular biology program at Brandeis University. Prior to Brandeis, Laura worked at Northeastern University creating a biosensor capable of measuring glucose levels in the perspiration system. At UMass Lowell, Laura analyzed lamprey brains and studied TAU protein, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In her current lab, Laura uses E.coli and yeast in her research to study how human mutations are avoided. Cancer, muscular dystrophy and bone-related diseases have been associated with one of the mutations she is investigating. Further down the road, Laura wants to become a college professor so she can keep motivating students to pursue science.

Brandeis Scientists in the Classroom Workshop

Workshop for high school science teachers.

The Brandeis MRSEC is bringing the exciting world of materials research to Waltham Middle and High School students through our Brandeis Scientists in the Classroom Workshop. Science teachers from Waltham Middle and High Schools participate in a professional development workshop on incorporating visiting scientists into a classroom lesson. During the full-day workshop, teachers interact with scientists eager to come into their classroom.

Additional Programs

Field Trips to Brandeis Science Laboratories

The Brandeis MRSEC welcomes middle and high school classes to campus for laboratory tours and hands-on science activities.

Partnership for Curriculum Building

The Brandeis MRSEC is bringing the exciting world of materials research to Waltham Middle School students through a graduate professional development course for teachers called “Partnership for Curriculum Building.” This course is intended to bring MRSEC research into high school classrooms by partnering Brandeis researchers with local area high school science teachers. Together, the partnerships develop curriculum, present in the classrooms and prepare the material for broader distribution.

In 3D Molecules of Life

The Brandeis MRSEC co-developed a biochemistry course for Waltham High School students titled “In 3D Molecules of Life.” The developers of the course were Brandeis Biochemistry Professor Daniel Pomeranz Krummel, MRSEC Education Director Dr. Anique Olivier-Mason, undergraduate student and 3D printing expert Eduardo Beltrame, and graduate student and former high school physics teacher Vivekanand Pandey Vimal.

Course content and learning goals:

  • Atoms and interatomic forces
    Goals: To describe bond properties and forces within a molecule and how molecules can interact.

  • Nature's building blocks
    Goals: To compare and contrast different biopolymers and explore the underlying principles that govern their structure and stability.

  • DNA structure: H-bonding and base stacking
    Goals: To describe hydrogen bonding and base stacking in the context of double-stranded DNA and understand the principles that govern its helical shape.

  • DNA and intermolecular interactions
    Goals: to describe how water and proteins can interact with double-stranded DNA and the underlying forces.

  • Building in 3D
    A core part of the course was the emphasis on visualization and models, which were 3D printed in the MakerLab.

Funding Sources: National Science Foundation and BioInspired Soft Materials MRSEC