September 19, 2019

Announcement: Awards

We are very excited to announce that the BNC Hartford chapter has won a Financial Goal Award and a Membership Goal Award for 2018. These awards recognize that BNC Hartford has achieved their financial and membership goals. Through a wide array of study groups ranging from tours to literature groups to trips to NYC, BNC Hartford offers it all.

We would like to thank all of our members and chapter leadership for their support of Brandeis University and enthusiastic participation in chapter activities. We look forward to spending another wonderful year learning, exploring, and supporting Brandeis together.

September Bulletin and Fall Luncheon

BNC Hartford is excited to announce our September bulletin has arrived! We welcome our members to a new year filled with exciting events and learning opportunities. As always, the bulletin is filled with news about events and members, as well as important information from leadership about the chapter and signing up for events.

To kick the year off, the first major event is the Fall luncheon on October 18th. Our guest speaker will be Nancy Lublin, founder of Dress for Success, CEO of “Do Something”, and CEO of a Crisis Hotline. There are also many on-going study groups to choose from across a wide range of topics. With groups for short stories, books of different genres, Judaism, foreign film, law, art, history, cooking, museum tours and more, we are sure that all of our members will find something of interest.

Fall 2018 Bulletin

Brandeis News: $1 Million Grant for Science

Brandeis University has been awarded a $1 million, 5-year grant from The Howard Hughs Medical Institute (HHMI) to aid in fostering undergraduate diversity in the sciences. The funding will help the Brandeis support undergraduates in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — especially those students who are first generation college students, from low-income backgrounds and military veterans.

Brandeis is one of 33 institutions of higher educations to receive the HHMI Inclusive Excellence award this year for its commitment to increase its capacity for inclusion. Part of the funding will be used to continue the success of the Science Posse program which focuses on attracting and retaining talented, underrepresented student in science.  Another part of the grant will go towards the Galaxy Program, a mentoring program intended to provide extra support and guidance to undergraduate students in the early stages of a scientific education.

These programs, as well as initiatives enabled by the grant, will further Brandeis’ commitment to social justice by helping all talent shine through in the sciences field, regardless of background.

We would like to thank all of our BNC members for your continued support of Brandeis’ sciences and libraries. Your generosity makes it possible for students from all walks of life to excel even when grants are not available.

Read the full article here.

Spring Bulletin

We are so excited to announce our Spring Bulletin is here! We have packed this season full of exciting activities, including on-going study groups and special one time events. The highlights of this spring are the highly anticipated Spring Luncheon with Lucy Nalpathanchil, tours, guest speakers, and trips. Our study groups span a range of topics including literature, Judaism studies, film, and law.

Check out the bulletin for further event details, contact information, and reservation forms.

Spring 2018 Bulletin

The Nobel Prize and the Brain

This week, Nobel laureates from around the world gather in Sweden to receive their awards. During the week known as Nobel Week, winners will attend dinners, ceremonies, and concerts in their honor. They will meet Swedish royalty, deliver lectures to be broadcast across the globe, and receive their Nobel medals and diplomas as VIP guests of the Swedish government. Swept up in the excitement are Michael Rosbash and Jeff Hall, biologists from the Brandeis community.

Rosbash, currently a professor in Brandeis’ biology department, and Hall, a professor emeritus of biology, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Michael Young of Rockefeller University. While winning the most prestigious prize in the world and the various perks that come with it (such as a personal attaché, first-class trip to Sweden, and intellectual celebrity status) is exciting, it is far from the main reason for Rosbash and Hall’s work. Their discovery of the fundamental workings of the circadian rhythm have far reaching implications, especially in the medical world. The circadian rhythm, also known as the body clock, has connections to many bodily functions including sleep cycles, hormone balances, enzyme production, body temperature, and metabolism. This internal clock is also connected to several neurodegenerative diseases. Studies have linked chronic sleep disorders with higher levels of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, while Parkinson’s is often marked by sleep disorders. Three quarters of patients with Parkinson’s disease have a sleep disorder and disordered sleeping may be an early indicator of the disease. It is necessary to understand the body’s underlying workings in order to develop targeted treatments. Foundational research like Rosbash and Hall’s is critical for advancing medical knowledge.

As the scientific and medical communities, and the world acknowledge the significance of Rosbash and Hall’s discovery, the two biologists recognize Brandeis University’s role in their research as a whole. Not only was Brandeis the place they met, but its collaborative, intellectual environment and financial support allowed them to perform critical research. In a time when pharmaceutical companies rely heavily on research coming out of universities; government funding for scientific research is more competitive than ever; and research in flashier, more profitable areas is more attractive; Brandeis provides a haven for an exploratory approach to the base questions, without which we can never full answer the bigger questions. Brandeis University’s attention to foundational research and specialization in neuroscience fosters an environment of research and discovery for both faculty and students. Cognizant of the costs of research, the University provides financial support in the form of grants, fellowships, and scholarships, allowing minds like Roshash and Hall’s to stretch and push the limits of conventional science.

We must also recognize the role the Brandeis National Committee plays in Brandeis’ science. Through funding campaigns, and general support for the libraries and scientific journals, BNC members ensure Brandeis scientists have access to the resources and stability necessary to perform quality work. The Sustaining the Mind Fund for research in neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases and scholarships in science specifically targets the needs of Brandeis’ science departments. Without the generous support of BNC members research into these diseases and progress towards their treatment and cure would be significantly slowed, and the future less secure. So in addition to congratulating Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall on their Nobel Prize, the Brandeis community and the Brandeis National Committee would like to recognize the role our members play and extend our thanks for your support in this meaningful discovery.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Summer Sensations!

We have many activities planned for the upcoming months! There are upcoming tours to Gardens at Wickham Park, Florence Griswold Museum,
The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism & the Garden Movement 1887 – 1920, D’Amour Fine Arts Museum and many more. We encourage you to attend, participate in fund raising for our chapter and bring guests!

To view details and register for events, click the link below:

.BNC – first 3 activities Summer 2016

A Big Thank You to Our Presenters!

This Spring, some exciting chapter events took place for the first time! Member participation was great and we saw some new faces at many of our activities as well! We wanted to thank our generous presenters for their commitment and effort- we had a lot of fun!
1) Hartford Artisan Weavers who are demonstrating, exhibiting and selling their creations at this weekend’s (Apr 8, 9, 10) American Fine Craft Show at the XL Center, Hartford.
2) Lin Huntting Congdon is holding free and group workshops to help with posture and pain issues http://gokhalemethod.com/city?c=West%20Hartford
The exhibit “It Was Paradise: Jewish Rhodes” at the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford. It will be on display through May 1, 2016. For information call (860) 768-4022.

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