Around Campus

Koloski-Ostrow to be honored nationally for contributions to archaeological educationPosted: Nov. 2, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow

Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, chair of the department of classical studies at Brandeis and co-director of the graduate MA program in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies, is the 2016 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
The award will be presented to Koloski-Ostrow at the organization’s annual meeting in San Francisco on Jan. 7.
Koloski-Ostrow is an expert in Greek and Roman art and archaeology, culture, literature, engineering and daily life and regularly works at archaeological sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum. Her courses also cross-list with fine arts, anthropology, Italian studies and women, gender and sexuality studies.
 “In bestowing Professor Koloski-Ostrow this award, we wish to acknowledge and applaud the invaluable service she has given the archaeological community as an educator,” said Andrew Moore, the AIA’s president.
The AIA presents the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award to recognize individuals who, among other things, have demonstrated excellence in the teaching of archaeology, developed innovative teaching methods, or interdisciplinary curricula, have five or more years of teaching experience and are actively teaching.
Alum, former Sorensen fellow, returns to campus for mini-residencyPosted: Oct. 27, 2015
Photo/David Weinstein

Former Sorensen fellow Ariele Cohen '99 speaks with students during her mini-residency.

As a junior at Brandeis, Ariele Cohen ’99 traveled to the war-torn former Yugoslavia, as well as Bulgaria, as one of the very first Sorensen Fellows.

Today, she makes her living on Wall Street as a financial lawyer doing substantial pro bono work to benefit Iraqi refugees and special education recipients in the US.

Along the way she studied Chinese law at City University of Hong Kong, and spent two years in Sri Lanka working for a local law firm, drafting joint venture agreements between multinational corporations investing in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Maldives.

Cohen returned to campus Oct. 22 and 23 to share her journey in the first Sorensen Fellowship Alumni Mini-Residency. Her residency featured three events, including a conversation reflecting on her experience in Sri Lanka in relation to this year’s Brandeis first-year book "Anil’s Ghost" by Michael Ondaatje.

“Traveling to the former Yugoslavia in 1998 as part of the first group of Sorensen Fellows was transformative for me,” Cohen said. “Not only did it broaden my world view by allowing me to experience firsthand a region entrenched in national and ethnic conflict, but it also taught me meaningful and practical life skills that I implement daily in both my personal life and my professional life as a financial lawyer.”

The Sorensen Fellowship for undergraduates has been a flagship program since the founding of the International Center for Ethics, Jusice and Public Life in 1998. The Fellowship consists of a summer internship bookended by courses for preparation and reflection. Seventeen years later there are more than 100 Fellowship alumni doing interesting work around the world in a variety of fields. Often their career paths are informed by their Sorensen Fellow experiences.

This new mini-residency is made possible thanks to a generous gift from Ethics Center Board member Gillian Sorensen. The Fellowship is named in honor of her late husband Theodore “Ted” Sorensen (1928-2010), adviser and speechwriter for President Kennedy and Founding Chair of the Ethics Center’s Board.

Lachman to Receive GSA’s 2015 Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology AwardPosted: Oct. 2, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

Margie Lachman

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Margie E. Lachman, PhD, of Brandeis University as the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award.

This distinguished honor is given annually to an individual whose theoretical contributions have helped bring about a new synthesis and perspective or have yielded original and elegant research designs addressing a significant problem in literature. Membership in GSA’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Section is also required.

The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 68th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 18 to 22 in Orlando, Florida. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.

Lachman is the Minnie and Harold Fierman Professor of Psychology and director of the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Lab at Brandeis University. She is also the director of the Brandeis University Lifespan Initiative on Healthy Aging. Lachman co-directs a National Institute on Aging-funded pre and postdoctoral training program, Cognitive Aging in a Social Context. Her expertise is in the area of lifespan development with a focus on personality and cognition in middle and later adulthood.

Lachman’s research has contributed to understanding how self-regulatory processes and expectancies such as the sense of control are related to health and well being. Among the noteworthy findings are that socioeconomic disparities in health and cognition can be attenuated with modifiable psychosocial and behavioral factors. Lachman has conducted intervention studies designed to enhance perceived control over memory and physical exercise, and one of the programs designed to increase control over falls won the Archstone Award for Excellence in Program Innovation from the American Public Health Association. She is currently Principal Investigator of the Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions, a collaboration among five Boston-area institutions supported by the NIA, with the goal of translating basic research findings into programs to improve health and well-being in later life.

Lachman has published more than 100 chapters and journal articles. She was editor of the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences from 2000 to 2003, and has edited two volumes on midlife development. She was a member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development and is currently collaborating on the 20-year longitudinal follow-up of the original MacArthur sample, the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study.

Lachman has served as an advisor to organizations such as the AARP and the Boston Museum of Science for the traveling exhibit on the Secrets of Aging. Her research has been featured in The New York Times and on CBS and NBC news. Lachman is a GSA fellow, which represents the Society’s highest class of membership, as well as a fellow of the American Psychological Association, Division 20. In 2003, she received the Distinguished Research Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, Division on Adult Development and Aging.

French-Canadian docudrama based on Fischer’s book wins a prix GémeauxPosted: Sept. 25, 2015

David Hackett Fischer

David Hackett Fischer’s bestselling book “Champlain’s Dream” was the basis and inspiration for a French-Canadian docudrama series that won a prix Gémeaux, which is known as the Emmy Award of francophone Canada.

Le Rêve de Champlain” won for best digital production (website and/or mobile application) for a program or series: docudrama. The prize was announced on Sept. 20 during the 30th Gala des Prix Gémeaux in Montréal.

“Martin Cadotte and Glenn O’Farrell, and the creative teams at TFO and Fair Play and Slalom, have invented ingenious new ways of engaging a broad public in a serious historical project,” said Fischer. “Examples are their use of young on-camera ‘interpreters,’ and their parallel presentation of the project on tablets for small children, and the use of new strategies for story-telling in braided narratives for viewers of every age. They have also tapped the talents of the some of the most gifted and attractive young actors in Canada today.

“The Gémeaux Prize is a testament to their success. It has been a delight to be associated with them, and to learn from their example,” added Fischer.

Fischer, a University Professor and the Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis, published “Champlain’s Dream” in 2008 to wide acclaim. He is the author of 15 major publications on topics ranging from the American Revolution to the logic of historical thought. His writing has earned many notable honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for history in 2005 and, to presented later this year, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.

Community Service Director Lucas Malo recognized for work at Prospect HillPosted: Sept. 22, 2015
Brandeis Director of Community Service Lucas Malo was named the winner of CarMax's Bright Side of Game Day contest for his work to support programs and community service in the Prospect Hill Terrace community in Waltham, and donated the $10,000 prize from the contest to the Prospect Hill Community Foundation.

Malo was presented with the check in a ceremony on the field at Gillette Stadium before the New England Patriots first game of the season Sept. 10. The Bright Side of Game Day contest recognizes inspiring local community heroes for their volunteer work and passionate commitment to help others.

"It was a surreal experience to be recognized in this way," Malo said. "All of the stakeholders in Prospect Hill deserve to share this honor. Thanks to our model of intentional partnership and collaboration it has been rewarding to see the Prospect Hill and Waltham community thrive.”

Prospect Hill Terrace is Waltham's largest affordable housing community. The Prospect Hill Community Foundation, a non-profit organization, was recently established by representatives from Brandeis, Bentley University, the Waltham Housing Authority, the Waltham Police Department and the Prospect Hill community to continue to support programs and volunteerism at Prospect Hill. A new, collaboratively established community center opened there last year, which offers an after school program, an early literacy program, a teen program, a community garden, classes for English language learners and coordinates community events.

US News ranks Brandeis as a top national universityPosted: Sept. 9, 2015

U.S. News & World Report has again named Brandeis University as one of the top national universities in the United States in its 2016 Best Colleges guide. Brandeis was ranked 34th nationally, up one spot from the previous year.

Brandeis also earned high national scores for being a best value school, 27th overall, its four-year graduation rate, 38th, and its freshmen retention rate, 42nd.

The 2016 edition includes data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities, including statistics on borrowing, costs and graduation rates. U.S. News developed the rankings to measure the strength of the academic programs at undergraduate institutions, with eligible schools ranked on up to 16 measures of academic excellence.

Brandeis has earned a ranking among the top 35 national universities since 1996.

Eve Marder '69 named American Physiological Society FellowPosted: Sept. 1, 2015
Photo/Mike Lovett

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 studies the dynamics of small neuronal networks, and her work was instrumental in demonstrating that neuronal circuits are not “hard-wired” but can be reconfigured by neuromodulatory neurons and substances to produce a variety of outputs. For more than 20 years Marder’s lab has combined experimental work with insights from modeling and theoretical studies. Her lab pioneered studies of homeostatic regulation of intrinsic membrane properties, and stimulated work on the mechanisms by which brains remain stable while allowing for change during development and learning. Marder is now studying the extent to which similar network performance can arise from different sets of underlying network parameters, opening up rigorous studies of the variations in individual brains of normal healthy animals.

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.