Around Campus

Sparking ideas and sprouting solutionsPosted: March 3, 2015
Have an idea for a business or product? Brandeis University wants to hear it.
 
SPARK, a new initiative created by the Brandeis University Virtual Incubator Program, is offering $50,000 to help bring ideas and entrepreneurial ambitions to life. It will focus on projects that promote positive social, educational or financial impact on a broad range of issues, including the environment, education, computer science, healthcare and economics. SPARK will also provide training and networking opportunities to aspiring entrepreneurs. 
 
SPARK is funded by the Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center and sponsored by the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL). A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
 
“The Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center was founded to support the Brandeis community in different and innovative ways,” says Rebecca Menapace, associate provost for innovation and OTL executive director. “Brandeis is already such a collaborative place and we hope SPARK can deepen those connections, both on campus and in the broader community.”
 
Undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff are all welcome to submit proposals. Preliminary proposals are due by Friday, March 6, 2015. Finalists will present their proposal to a panel of industry judges at the end of April and awards will be announced by early May.
 
Friday, March 6, also marks the deadline for proposals for SPROUT Grants, a five-year-old initiative to support innovative research projects. A total of $50,000 will be awarded to selected projects, commensurate with the scope of the project.
 
Funded by the Office of the Provost and sponsored by OTL, SPROUT Grants are awarded to projects that require bench research, lab space or lab equipment. Finalists will also be eligible for training and networking opportunities. Previous winners include projects focused on developing new classes of anti-cancer drugs; improving the manufacture of insulin, and improving a genome modification system.
 
“Together, the SPROUT and SPARK programs create a virtual incubator spanning the breadth of what we do at Brandeis, from developing software and apps to improving protein chemistry and vaccine development,” says Menapace.
Yehudi Wyner elected president of American Academy of Arts and LettersPosted: March 2, 2015

Professor Emeritus of Composition Yehudi Wyner has been elected president of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He succeeds architect Henry S. Cobb as president of the academy and will serve a three-year term. Wyner has been a member of the highly selective honor society since 1999.

Wyner's decorated career includes a 2006 Pulitzer Prize in music for his composition "Piano Concerto: 'Chiavi in Mano'," a Grammy in 2005 for "The Mirror," the Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and numerous grants and fellowships.

Comprised of 250 architects, composers, artists, and writers, the American Academy of Arts and Letters fosters literature, music, and the fine arts through administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art donated to museums.

Shantanu Jadhav named Sloan Research FellowPosted: Feb. 25, 2015
Assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience Shantanu Jadhav has won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship to explore memory and decision-making in mammalian brains.
 
Shantanu Jadhav
Shantanu Jadhav
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship honors early-career scientists and scholars who are among the next generation of scientific leaders. This year, 126 researchers from the U.S. and Canada were awarded the $50,000 grant.
 
Jadhav, who recently came to Brandeis from the University of California, San Francisco, studies how the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex — two critical brain regions — interact and communicate with each other to support learning, memory and memory-guided decision-making.
 
Communication between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is critical for remembering, planning, predicting and decision-making, yet scientists don’t yet understand how the two regions communicate. 
 
To explore this question, Jadhav studies rat brains in real time as they form memories, learn and make decisions. He observes how activity in neuronal groups in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex evolves during learning and what mechanisms underlie the organization and transmission of information across these structures.
 
Jadhav hopes his research will provide insight into memory and learning as well as neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer's, depression and schizophrenia.
Brandeis alumni and scholars win prestigious book awardsPosted: Feb. 11, 2015

A number of Brandeis University alumni and scholars who received research support  from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education have been awarded the 2014 National Jewish Book Award by the Jewish Book Council. 

Yohanan Petrovsky Shtern won in the category of history for his book, “The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe,” while Orit Kent’s book with Elie Holzer, “A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs, won in the category of Jewish education.

Additionally, Adam Mendelsohn won in the category of American Jewish Studies for his book, “The Rag Race,” while Julia Cohen and Sarah Abreyeva Stein’s edited book, “Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950,” won in the category of Sephardic culture.

Cohen’s other book, “Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era,” won in the category of writing based on archival material.

Kathryn Hellerstein’s won in the category of women’s studies with her book, “A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987.”

For more information on the books or to purchase them, visit the Jewish Book Council’s website

Jewish People’s Choice Awards honors Stein ’15, Nass ’14Posted: Feb. 4, 2015

The Jewish People’s Choice Awards named Ethan Stein ’15 Business Person of the Year and honored Brandeis alumnus Josh Nass ’14 as this year’s Lover of Israel.

Hosted by the Chabad Young Professionals of the UES (Upper East Side), the Jewish People’s Choice Awards recognizes the achievements of young Jews in New York City. The gala took place on Jan. 29 at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan.

Stein, a computer science, film and near eastern and Judaic studies triple major, just launched his own company, CyberSecurityPlan, which provides its clients with customized computer security plans to protect their computer networks.

Nass, a former politics major, currently runs Voices of Conservative Youth, an organization that aims to increase support and understanding of conservative political platforms among young voters.

Jankowski's 'Verdun' wins World War One Historical Association's book prizePosted: Jan. 16, 2015

The World War One Historical Association has awarded Paul Jankowski, the Raymond Ginger Professor of History, the 2014 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Book Prize for his book “Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War.”

The prize is offered annually for the best historical work on World War One. It consists of a check for $3,000 and a bronze plaque.

The Battle of Verdun is noted for its length - it lasted for 10 months – and its brutality, and is the subject of many books that have largely analyzed the military tactics. Jankowski has been lauded for taking a different approach in his writing. His book provides insight on the human experience and includes both the German and French perspective.

University of Bern honors BrootenPosted: Jan. 12, 2015
Photo/University of Bern

Bernadette J. Brooten, front row, second from left, with her fellow honorary degree recipients

The University of Bern has awarded an honorary doctorate in theology to Bernadette J. Brooten, the Robert and Myra Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies.

The Swiss university recognized Brooten for her groundbreaking research on Jewish and Christian women in antiquity, on the history of sexuality, and on slavery, noting that her work has spurred new discussions within the academy and in society more broadly. Her research on the Apostle Junia was singled out as a milestone in biblical studies and a classic in theological women's studies.

Brooten is the director of the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project, which was established, in part, to provide religious communities and society at large with the knowledge and framework needed to recognize and acknowledge past collaboration in slavery, to engage in restorative justice for slavery, and to create sexual ethics untainted by slave-holding values.

Brooten, who is also a professor of classical studies, of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and of religious studies, currently is a fellow-in-residence at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is working to understand why Christian leaders supported slavery for most of Christian history and how that support relates to their regulations on marriage, family and celibacy.



The University of Bern was formally founded in 1834, but the roots of the university dates back to the 16th century when it was founded as a collegiate school in response to the Reformation.

Brandeis named a top 10 school for a sociology degreePosted: Jan. 7, 2015

College Factual has ranked Brandeis as one of the top 10 schools to earn an sociology degree in the United States.

Brandeis earned the sixth spot in a national survey conducted by College Factual that looked at overall academic quality of sociology undergraduate programs.

The web-based college information source recognized Brandeis for blending a liberal arts education with sociology classes to further explore human interactions, especially relating to gender, religion, health and politics. “Along with analyzing theories and methods in the classroom, students at Brandeis are able to gain hands-on experience through engagement with community organizations and local social movements. The school also offers the opportunity to become involved with research.”

Jonathan Sarna lecture to air Dec. 27 on C-SPAN 3Posted: Dec. 23, 2014
Photo/Mike Lovett

A class lecture by Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, on Henry Ford and his support of anti-Semitic publications, will be broadcast on C-SPAN 3 this Saturday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m. as well as at midnight as part of its “Lectures in History” series which airs each Saturday.

C-SPAN was on campus in November to film the lecture, which was part of Sarna’s course “It couldn’t happen here: Three American anti-semitic episodes.” Sarna discussed the influence of Henry Ford and his publication, The International Jew, on the American Jewish experience. 

"It was a great honor for me to be selected by C-SPAN for its series," says Sarna. "The students participated actively in the class and we talked about what it meant when one of the greatest men in America declared Jews to be the 'world's foremost problem.' We discussed the great irony that Ford blamed Jews for changing America but never realized that nobody did more to change America than he himself, through the automobile. More broadly, we looked at the motif of the 'mythical Jew' and the 'Jew next door,' which characterizes the Ford saga. Ford lambasted 'Jews' but was mystified that friends and employees who were Jewish took offense. Of course, the descendants of Henry Ford long ago disavowed his anti-semitism. Still, the episode remains important as an object lesson in hatred and its consequences. I am glad to be able to share that lesson with C-SPAN viewers."

Brandeis named a top 10 school for an economics degreePosted: Dec. 12, 2014

Brandeis earned the ninth spot in a national survey conducted by College Factual that looked at overall academic quality of economics undergraduate programs.

The web-based college information source recognized Brandeis for providing a broad range of courses — including international economics and finance, macroeconomics, monetary economics and labor economics — that prepares students to pursue a variety of careers following graduation. It also cited the average early-career and mid-career salaries of its graduates.

Special offer from Brandeis University PressPosted: Dec. 5, 2014

Israel: A History by Anita ShapiraWith the holiday season quickly approaching, Brandeis University Press and University Press of New England are offering all Brandeis students, faculty, staff and alumni a 35 percent discount on all books for a limited time. Purchases of $35 or more qualify for free shipping within the United States.

Books must be ordered online. The discount code is “WW91.” Free shipping will not show up in your shopping cart, but will be applied when orders are processed.

For more information or to make a purchase, visit the Brandeis University Press site. 

Alumnus paints fencing room muralsPosted: Dec. 2, 2014
Photo/ Julian Cardillo
namesake
Photo/ Julian Cardillo

The Brandeis Fencing room added a new feature to its decor this off-season.

Thanks to former Judges fencer Chris Spencer ’94, the fencing room now has two painted murals. One depicts university namesake Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis holding a saber. The other is of three fencers, each representing one of the sport’s disciplines — foil, epee and saber — under the words “Brandeis Fencing.”

“We’ve always had a Spartan philosophy in the fencing room, but the opportunity came up to do something new,” said Bill Shipman, Brandeis’s head fencing coach. “Chris did a nice job. It’s very striking, especially the mural of Justice Brandeis holding a saber, it’s appropriate. I think the people passing by the fencing room, and the fencers, will enjoy it.”

The Judges’ take on St. John’s University, Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University and the Air Force Academy for their home opener on Sunday, Dec. 7, at 9 a.m. at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.