Program Overview

The Quantitative Biology Research Community (QBReC) is a unique program that gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research with acclaimed Brandeis faculty who are working at the interface of the physical and life sciences.

Student presenting a poster to Jane Kondev, Professor of Physics
Avi Rodal and other faculty members discussing scientific posters
Lab members standing and talking with Jane Kondev, Professor of Physics

First-Year Seminar and Practicum

Students enter the program in their first year by taking two specialized courses: a fall seminar on Nature’s Nanotechnology and a spring experiential-learning practicum. In the seminar (limited to 18 students), Professor Jané Kondev guides students in an exploration of cutting-edge problems in biology using ideas and techniques from physics and math.

For the spring practicum, selected students are placed into our most prominent interdisciplinary research labs, headed by QBReC professors Jeff Gelles, Paul Garrity, Leslie Griffith, Bruce Goode, Michael Hagan, Jané Kondev, Eve Marder, Avital RodalMichael Rosbash, and  Hannah Yevick where they spend the semester doing research projects. They work under the tutelage of graduate students or postdoctoral fellows from some of the labs above who have been specially selected and trained for this task. The class also meets for a weekly lecture in which QBReC professors and guest lecturers from other universities talk about the most exciting research going on at the interface of physics and biology.

Ongoing Research

After the first-year experience, students will be given the opportunity to apply for summer research fellowships in one of the six QBReC labs, and can choose to continue doing research during the academic year. The very best students have the opportunity to do research for three years, giving them time to make a significant discovery. While this is rare in academic research, it actually happens at Brandeis. For example, a paper written 10 years ago by Lacramioara Bintu ’05 has since become the standard in the field of gene expression. Given the successes of our former students on similar trajectories, we expect QBReC students to eventually take on leadership roles in science and technology.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a process through which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences. At Brandeis, curricular experiential education may involve practicum courses, experiential learning courses, community-engaged learning courses, academic internship courses, and other activities including laboratory studies and creative work. Experiential learning can also occur in a traditional classroom setting with a focus on active learning and reflective processes that connect theory, practice, and the synthesis of new ideas.

On the Frontlines

The Dogic lab explores natural phenomena that seem almost magical.

Gil Henkin ’14 was a physics major, but that didn’t prevent him from working magic. In the lab in 222 Abelson, the young scientist conjured mesmerizing images of microscopic systems in motion.

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