November 23, 2017

Special Event: Professor Sarna at The Jewish Center, NYC – October 27th and 28th

Brandeis University invites you to a special event in New York City on October 27th and 28th. Join us at the Jewish Center’s Centennial Celebration that features Shabbat programming and The May and Samuel Rudin Lecture Series. The series’ speaker is Brandeis’ very own Dr. Jonathan Sarna, a professor in Brandeis’ Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department.

Friday Night Lecture and Oneg: The Immigration Clause that Changed American Orthodoxy

Shabbat Morning Public Lecture: 1917: The Year that Changed American Orthodoxy

Seudah Shlishit: A Historian’s Perspective on the Future of Modern Orthodoxy

Further details can be found on the Jewish Center’s website.

Brandeis News: Brandeis Professors Win Nobel Prize

Left to right: Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey C. Hall. Photo by Mark Lovett.

On October 2nd the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Michael Rosbash, Jeffrey Hall, and Michael Young for their research on circadian rhythms. This year’s award is especially exciting as Rosbash and Hall share a history of teaching and research in Brandeis’ biology department in addition to being the first long-term Brandeis faculty to win the Nobel Prize. Rosbash, whose research continues in the labs of the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center, is a current professor at Brandeis while Hall has retired to Maine. Young is currently on the faculty of Rockefeller University.

Rosbash and Hall met at Brandeis in the 1970s striking up a friendship over basketball. This friendship evolved into a working partnership in the biology labs researching circadian rhythms using fruit flies as a model organism. The work that won them the Nobel Prize was the discovery of molecular mechanisms that control the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm, colloquially known as the biological clock or body clock, is the 24-hour physiological cycle that regulates certain internal processes. It plays a role in when we go to sleep, wake up, and feel hungry, as well as hormone balances and other brain activity. In 1984, Rosbash and Hall successfully sequenced the per gene which led to discovering its control over PER protein production. The per gene triggers the production of messenger RNA (mRNA) which carries information out of the cell nucleus. The information from the mRNA triggers PER protein production which peaks just before dawn and then declines until the protein is undetectable by night time. PER protein molecules then travel back into the nucleus, repress their own synthesis, and degrade. The decay causes the per gene to make mRNA, beginning the cycle over. The process was a mystery until Rosbash and Hall came along and connected the dots. Understanding the mechanisms behind the circadian rhythm has opened the door to a host of possible applications. Some mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes have been linked to issues with the circadian rhythm. Rosbash and Hall’s work could potentially lead to better treatments for these diseases as well as applications in plant science and environmental science.

Both men commented on Brandeis’ unusually collaborative atmosphere which allowed for such scientific innovation. The school’s small size and interdisciplinary values encourage interaction between departments resulting in collaborations drawing from many sources. Rosbash also acknowledged the hard work, creativity, and brains of Brandeis students in his work, undergraduate as well as graduate. Brandeis students of all levels often have the opportunity to work alongside professors on ground-breaking research, a chance students at many other schools only get at the graduate level. Rosbash, who regularly hires around 12 students a year, is known around the lab as a wonderful mentor with a knack for fostering talent.

The Brandeis National Committee would like to congratulate Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall on their win, and warmly thank our members for your continued support of Brandeis, its libraries, sciences, and scholarships. Your support makes it possible for students to learn from the great minds of today, such as Rosbash and Hall, and work towards the solutions of the future.

Read more about the professors in Brandeis NOW.

Read the Nobel Prize press release.

Event: Book and Author Luncheon – October 30th

Mark it on your calendars! Join us on October 30th at the Yale Club for our Annual Book and Author Luncheon! This year we will be welcoming three authors to talk to us about three of their books, in which they examine different facets and the resiliency of human nature.

A.O. Scott, a New York Times film critic and writer for the New York Times Magazine and Book Review, explores the necessity and instinct to criticize in his book Better Living Through Criticism. In this book Scott reveals the nature of and motivations behind criticism as well as the role it plays in creativity. Through humor and cutting insight Scott takes us on a ride through the human psyche.

Lesley Stahl, award-winning TV journalist and co-editor of 60 Minutes, explores the trials and joys of grandmotherhood in Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting. Her book explores an incredibly personal journey that is sure to strike close to home for many of us. Through personal experience and interviews Stahl pinpoints the aspects of grandparents that are so transformative.

Min Jin Lee, prize-winning novelist and lawyer, takes us on a multi-generational ride in her novel Pachinko. In this book, through the story starting in Korea in the early 1900s, Lee paints a picture of human struggle, triumph, faith and identity as one family is swept along through the river of history. Through this saga, we see the grit and resiliency of mankind as we hold onto those important to us.

Help us welcome these authors in appreciation of their works while supporting Brandeis University. All proceeds from this event will go towards BNC. Invitations will be sent out soon and more details can be found in the Bulletin.

Event: Opening Membership Brunch – September 6

Come kick off the BNC year with us and bring a friend! Join us on September 6th for our “Brandeis and You” opening Membership Brunch. Reconnect with good friends and introduce the chapter to some new ones! Prospective members can come meet the chapter, learn about what we do for Brandeis University, learn about what programming we offer our members, and BNC’s history.

Our speaker for this brunch will be Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz about her book On the Chocolate Trail. In her book Prinz takes us around the globe examining the historically religious connections chocolate has to both Judaism and other religions. The book is an adventure through history, culture, countries, and beliefs, drawing from Prinz’s travels sure to enchant chocolate lovers from all walks of life.

Don’t forget to send in your reservation as soon as possible! More details can be found in the Bulletin.

Featured Alumni: Debra Messing

Debra Messing graduated from Brandeis University in 1990 as a Theater Arts major before continuing to pursue acting at New York University. She is perhaps best known for her title role in the situational comedy Will & Grace. In the show, which aired from 1998-2006, Messing plays Grace Adler; an interior decorator living with long-time friend Will Truman (played by Eric McCormak) in New York City. The addition of their friends Karen (Megan Mullally), Jack (Sean Hayes), a clever script, and a live audience resulted in a show the country couldn’t resist tuning in to every Tuesday evening. The show was a tremendous hit despite worries at the time of cancelation due to certain themes. At the end of its eight season run the four co-stars went their separate ways and Messing moved onto other projects. Since the end of Will & Grace, Messing has acted in many productions including the show Smash, created by fellow Brandeis alumna Theresa Rebeck ’83 MFA ’86 PhD ’89, and The Mysteries of Laura. Most recently she contributed to the remake of Dirty Dancing in the role of Marjorie Houston which was released in May. Later this summer Messing will return to her roots as Grace in NBC’s revival of the groundbreaking series, due to begin airing in late September. In an interview with Haute Living Magazine Messing stated filming will begin in August in Los Angeles, “but New York is where [her] heart is.”

Though Messing has moved on from Waltham, she has never fully left Brandeis behind. In an interview with Scott Feinberg ’08 for The Hollywood Reporter about her time at Brandeis, Messing said she loved the school’s size and that “the kids were very serious about everything.” She attributes the late Ted Kazanoff, a professor in the theater department, for convincing her to pursue acting after graduation. “He is really the one who made me decide to do this for my life… I remember Ted Kazanoff got me ready for my audition for NYU for the graduate program and one of the graduate playwrights wrote my monologue.” In 2014 Messing greeted fellow alumni at an event in NYC. She said Brandeis taught her to believe in herself and her career would follow. “I knew I would work and not give up. I am a proud Brandeisian.”

In these months following graduation, Brandeis’ class of 2017 is stepping into the working world, for the first time for some. These graduates will go on to make great contributions to their fields, as Messing has done, and carry forward the lessons and inspirations Brandeis has bequeathed to them. For some of these students, Brandeis would not have been an option due to prohibitive costs. The Brandeis National Committee’s continued support of student scholarships, in addition to the libraries and scientific research, has enabled these students to chase their dreams. Join the Brandeis National Committee today to help ensure students have the resources to reach their full potential, both in the classroom and beyond.

Learn more about Debra Messing’s filmography here

Read Debra Messing’s full interview with Haute Living here

Brandeis Science: Exploring Active Matter

Brandeis University, despite its youth, has become known as a prestigious research institution. In the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center students are immersed into the world of science in the biology and chemistry labs. In the same building, and spanning 3 floors of research labs, researchers sharpen their minds and curiosity on the cutting-edge questions of the day. Today’s question concerns active matter.

Active matter is a relatively new field of study which has only attracted serious attention in the past 20 years. The term “active matter” refers to groups of individuals that act independently, but whose respective movements collectively cause much bigger motions. Examples of active matter most people are probably familiar with are large flocks of birds that seem to create a swarm-like cloud or a large school of fish. But these independent actors could be much simpler such as individual cells, molecules or, in the case studied at Brandeis, specific cell structures. While the concept of active matter may sound like something the general public has no reason to care about, the potential applications with real world consequences could significantly improve the way we live.

In 2008 Brandeis became one of seventeen major research universities to take part in an initiative by the National Science Foundation to develop new machines and materials. The university was granted $20 million for 12 years of research and labeled as a Material Research Science and Engineering Center. These institutions focus on studying active matter with Brandeis’s team consisting of 16 scientists from physics, biology and mathematical backgrounds.

The minds leading the charge in the Brandeis labs are Seth Fraden PhD ’87, Zvonimir Dogic ’95, PhD ’01, Tim Sanchez PhD ’12, and Aparna Baskaran. Fraden, a Brandeis physics professor, and Dogic, a Brandeis associate physics professor, run the lab and have emerged at the head active matter exploration effort. They have a history of collaborating on soft matter – matter that is between a liquid and a solid, such as gels — research where they use innovative methods to combine biological material with inanimate matter.

While some scientists may study active matter on large scales, Fraden and Dogic study it on the cellular level. More precisely, on the cell’s structural level. They have been examining microtubules, tiny hollow tubes that provide a cell’s structural integrity, from cow neurons. Microtubules also aid the delivery system within the cell by allowing kinesin, a protein that delivers nutrients and genetic material, to “walk” around the cell powered by adenosine triphosphate (ATP). These microtubules expand and contract individually, but when the movements are taken collectively they allow the cell to stretch, shrink and change shape in response to its environment.

Sanchez, while working as a postdoc fellow under Dogic, discovered that by adding a polyethylene glycol to the microtubule-kinesin-ATP mix the microtubules bunched together and began moving like cilia. Motile cilia are the hair-like structures on the outside of some cells that whip back and forth. In nature, cilia are made from hundreds of proteins and move much more rapidly than the ones Dogic’s team created. While these faux-cilia are no replacement for naturally occurring cilia, they could eventually be used in new medication delivery systems among other potential applications.

The discovery of the faux-cilia led to further experimentation with the microtubules regarding how they interacted with their environment. In collaboration with postdoc Kan-ta Wu, a Brandeis physics lecturer, the team discovered not only that a certain shaped container cause the microtubule concoction to move by itself, but when placed on a flat surface it would flow by itself as well. Self-flowing liquid is fascinating for several reasons. It is something straight from science-fiction, reminiscent of 1958’s the Blob, and has potential for multiple applications such as a replacement or supplement to scenarios where a pump is limiting. One example is moving oil across large areas.

Aparna Baskaran, a physics associate professor at Brandeis, bridges the gap between the lab and real world application. She takes on the task of figuring out the math within Dogic’s team’s trial-and-error approach by trying to create mathematical models predicting the matter’s movement. Without her work the uses of a self-moving liquid can’t be fully realized until we are sure it won’t take on Blob-like tendencies. Developing models to predict active matter movements are made especially difficult by the number of individual actors and that there is no distinctive leader, as seen in the case with birds called Starlings. If Baskaran and other active matter scientists are successful, we could be entering an era of self-moving, self-repairing material in both the commercial and medical industries. Imagine a world where 3D printed transplant organs, a technology actually in development, could repair and maintain themselves.

The science happening in Brandeis labs is absolutely ground breaking, but likely would not be possible without the minds and resources Brandeis provides. Among the schools involved with the National Science Foundation and active matter research, Brandeis is especially well suited to this research due to the interdisciplinary requirements. The university values academic diversity and encourages interdisciplinary study and cooperation. Without scientists from such diverse fields and knowledge, and the top-notch resources provided by university, this research would be incomplete and our world would be worse off for it.

Since 1948 Brandeis National Committee has supported the Brandeis sciences in addition to the libraries and student scholarships. Brandeis strives to provide the proper support and resources necessary for bright minds to thrive. Join us in the world’s largest friends-of-a-library network to help ensure Brandeis remains an institution of inspiration for scientists, scholars, future leaders, and artists.

Read the full article by Lawrence Goodwin in Brandeis Magazine here

Watch a video of microtubules in action at BrandeisNOW here

Brandeis News: Brandeis Receives $50 Million Gift

On Tuesday, June 27th 2017, Brandeis University announced it had received a $50 million bequest from the estate of Rosaline and Marcia Cohn. This gift is significant for several reasons. Since its founding in 1948, this is the first time Brandeis has received a gift of this size in a single donation. As per the wishes of the Cohn family, the money will go towards scholarships for deserving and outstanding students through the Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Endowed Scholarship Fund. This generous gift will allow hundreds of students to pursue their academic aspirations. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the gift is that nobody in the Chicago-based Cohn family had a direct connection to Brandeis University.

In 1951, Rosaline Cohn became a life member of the then Chicago chapter of the Brandeis National Committee. Her interest and support of the school, inspired by the first president Abram Sachar, continued to flourish. In true BNC fashion, Rosaline and her husband Jacob, who the fund is named for, chose to support Brandeis because of its values and commitment to academic excellence and openness. The future the Cohn family envisioned is filled with students that will carry Brandeis’ values with them as they go on to do great things. It is with these values in mind that the Brandeis National Committee would like to extend our thanks and deepest appreciation to our many members who did not attend Brandeis, but understand the unique experiences an institution of its caliber provides.

Read the full story on BrandeisNOW.

To continue supporting the Brandeis National Committee, libraries, student scholarships and scientific research visit BNC giving.

 

 

 

Cocktails and Conversation

May 18, 2017 
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
At the home of Marsha Stoller  (5th Avenue and E. 93rd St) 

Please join us for this special gathering of Brandeis alumni, BNC members, and friends for refreshments and a brief presentation by James Gibert, director of planned giving, and M’Lissa Brennan, director of strategy and development. You will learn about creative gift options that provide tax advantages today, life income gifts, as well as future gifts that will cost you nothing now.

This is not a fundraiser — it is an opportunity for you to learn about ways you can benefit and also meet the future needs of Brandeis. Both James and M’Lissa will be available to answer any questions you may have.

RSVP to M’Lissa Brennan by May 15 via email at mlissa@brandeis.edu or call 781-736-4178.

 

Apples to Apples: Just an Illusion

University on Wheels with Professor Don Katz for March 31 in New York City

New York-area Brandeis National Committee members and friends are invited to attend a seminar on Friday, March 31st with Professor Don Katz, who will discuss our sensory brain in his lecture, “Apples to Apples: Just an Illusion.”
People are comfortable in the belief that their sensory systems tell them what is out there in the world. An apple looks like an apple and tastes like an apple, and so we know it’s an apple. In reality, however, this belief  while comforting) is misguided: The information we get from our eyes and tongue is, in fact, highly ambiguous. Far from reporting “what’s out there,” the job of our sensory brain is to guess what’s out there, a job that it performs by putting together as many different sources of ambiguous information as it can.
Professor Katz will show the sensory process in action, demonstrating how easy it is to change what something tastes like and even looks like. These demonstrations are not merely parlor tricks – what they reveal is that illusions, which we like to think represent our sensory systems malfunctioning, are in fact the very basis of perception.
The event, will be held at 10:30 AM at the Barbizon Condominiums, 3rd Fl. 140 E.63 Street.
Admission is $15 per person, payable to BNC, to Shelley Greene, 165 E. 72 St. #2K, NY, NY 10021.

Good Housekeeping Institute Tour and Lunch

How does the Good Housekeeping test products? Come visit their labs, meet their experts, to learn how their engineers, chemists, textile professionals, and other scientists evaluate thousands of products each year, from vacuums to cosmetics to swimwear and more. Tour their test kitchens (where every Good Housekeeping recipe is triple tested), meet with their nutrition department to learn how they assess if a food lives up to its claims, and visit the famous Good Housekeeping dining room, which has been host to dozens of presidents, first ladies, celebrities, and other famous figures. After the tour, we will have lunch across the street at the organic Bareburger Restaurant.

March 10th- 11:15 am

Limited to 20 members at $46 per person

For more information, contact Linda M Schain, lmschain@gmail.com

 

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