Of Note

Biology professor Alexandre Bisson named to Pew Scholars ProgramPosted: June 15, 2021

Brandeis biology professor Alexandre Bisson has been named one of 22 researchers to join the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

Bisson, an expert in cellular organization and behavior, will probe the molecular mechanisms through which single-cell organisms can radically change their shape. Bisson will receive funding over the next four years to fund his research as part of a Pew Scholars Program initiative to investigate timely questions surrounding human health and disease.

“Pew has a history of supporting talented researchers who are committed to understanding intricate scientific processes,” said Pew president and CEO Susan K. Urahn. “Our newest cohort of scholars is joining a large community of accomplished scientists who are dedicated to uncovering new solutions to significant biomedical challenges.”

The 2021 class of scholars — all of whom are early-career junior faculty — join more than 1,000 other scientists who have received awards from Pew since 1985. Current scholars have opportunities to meet annually, share ongoing research, and exchange perspectives across the health sciences field.

Pew selected Bisson and his colleagues in the 2021 class of scholars from 198 applicants nominated by leading academic institutions and researchers across the U.S.

CFO Sam Solomon elected as chair of The Boston ConsortiumPosted: June 7, 2021
The Boston Consortium for Higher Education (TBC), a consortium of twenty institutions in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, today announced that Samuel Solomon, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Brandeis University, has been elected by TBC’s Board of Directors to serve as its chair for a term of two years beginning July 1, 2021.

“As we step into a new post-COVID normal world, we do so facing new challenges and opportunities. This is a watershed moment in the history of higher education. Many of our institutions are collaborating and supporting each other like never before. I am honored to be leading this august organization,” Solomon stated.

Solomon has served on TBC’s Board for six years, including four years as its treasurer, during his time as chief financial officer and treasurer at Brandeis and the Rhode Island School of Design. He is graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and has an MBA and doctorate from Northeastern University. He is also a CFA® charterholder.

TBC was established in 1995 by the chief financial officers of eleven Boston-area colleges and universities. Membership has grown to twenty institutions in two states. The consortium supports its institutions as they achieve administrative excellence through collaboration, cost savings, and professional development.
Professor Alexander Kaye receives Young Scholar AwardPosted: June 7, 2021

The Association for Israel Studies named Brandeis professor Alexander Kaye a recipient of its 2021 Young Scholar Award.

Kaye is the Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Assistant Professor of Israel Studies, teaching classes in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Brandeis’ Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He joined the Brandeis faculty in 2018.

His most recent book, “The Invention of Jewish Theocracy: The Struggle for Legal Authority in Modern Israel” (Oxford University Press), investigates Jewish nationalists’ desire for Israel to become a “halakhic state,” which would mean using Jewish Orthodox law to govern the State of Israel.

The Young Scholar Award carries a $5,000 prize and recognizes scholars who make significant contributions to Israel studies, and whose record of research and publication demonstrates the potential to shape the field in the future.

Founded in 1985 and chartered in the U.S., the Association for Israel Studies is an international scholarly society devoted to the study of modern Israel. The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies is a scholarly affiliate of the organization.

National Endowment for the Humanities awards $300,000 to Professor Wendy Cadge’s Boston Hidden Sacred Spaces projectPosted: March 15, 2021

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded $300,000 to support the project Boston’s Hidden Sacred Spaces, a partnership between Brandeis University and San Francisco-based Walking Cinema. 

The funding extends the work of an NEH-funded prototype to map and tell the stories of sacred spaces using 3D and interactive technologies. The project team is led at Brandeis by Wendy Cadge, Professor of Sociology and incoming Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Ian Roy, Director for Research Technology and Innovation, at the Brandeis MakerLab. Michael Epstein, director of Walking Cinema, is the project’s Principal Investigator.  

This project utilizes 3D technology to preserve sacred spaces in the greater Boston area as well as create a compelling podcast about how clues in these spaces reveal a deep transformation of the American religious experience. For years, 3D technology has been used in archeology, architecture, and religious studies to scan objects and spaces with the aim of preserving and analyzing them, such as digital representations of ancient Greek pottery or comparing architectural features of Egyptian mosques. Boston’s Hidden Sacred Spaces will work with clergy, scholars and public radio journalists to produce an audio series and companion 3D environments to create the first podcast that teleports audiences into the spaces of the stories.  

Audiences will virtually move around these spaces leveraging the capabilities of smartphones and Augmented Reality devices to deliver high fidelity audio and project images into audience surroundings. In this way, audiences become both detectives and archeologists, examining these hidden sacred spaces as they dig into the rich history of their construction and current challenges.  

“We are excited that the NEH sees the value of our prototype project and is investing in its extension,” Cadge said. “Charting the evolution of the sacred spaces in the Boston area -- especially those usually overlooked or forgotten -- will tell us not only about the history of American religion but also help us understand its future.”

“As our movement has been restricted over the past year due to the pandemic, there has been a rising interest in immersive storytelling: audio, zoom performances, and augmented reality that transport audiences to other places” explains Michael Epstein from Walking Cinema. “With Hidden Sacred Spaces we are creating a place-based podcast that allows audiences to step inside Boston’s recondite places of worship.”

"All of our efforts around ‘sciencing the past’ are aimed at making higher quality data more accessible to more people," said Ian Roy, the Brandeis MakerLab director. "The more hearts and minds we can connect to these spaces, the more connections, conclusions and personal meaning they will be able to draw."

The project began on Jan. 1, 2021 and is expected to be released to the public in early 2022. When completed, the 3D experience and podcast will be available at HiddenSacredSpaces.org as well as the website of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab at ChaplaincyInnovation.org.