Focus on Faculty: Isaac Krauss wins Strage Award

Isaac Krauss, assistant professor of chemistry, will receive the 15th Annual Alberta Gotthardt and Henry Strage Award for Aspiring Young Science Faculty.

Isaac Krauss, photo by Mike Lovett
Isaac Krauss, photo by Mike Lovett

“Isaac has been recognized as one of the up and coming scientists in the field of chemical glycobiology,” says professor John F. Wardle, head of the Division of Science and chair of the Strage Award Selection Committee.

The Strage Award is presented annually to a distinguished junior faculty member in the Life Sciences.  Alberta Gotthardt ‘56 and Henry Strage of London, England, created the award for researchers who have not yet received tenure but have made outstanding scientific contributions in the early stages of their independent research programs.

Previous winners include chemistry professor Christine Thomas and physics professor Michael Hagan.

Krauss and his lab are researching possible HIV vaccines, using directed evolution to create antigenic mimics of the virus.

His work has been highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News  and reviewed in Nature Chemical Biology and Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. He received the 2013 National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the 2012 Thieme Chemistry Journal Award.

The award will be presented on Wednesday, April 15 in Gerstenzang 123 at 2:00 PM. Krauss will deliver a lecture entitled: “Glycocluster Evolution: Combining Organic Synthesis and Directed Evolution to Design Carbohydrate Cluster HIV Vaccine Candidates.”

Watch the video to learn more about Isaac Krauss’ work.

Enter Sandwoman

Let’s put winter behind us — it’s time to think about sand.

Physicists think about sand a lot because they don’t really understand how it works. How can sand — and other granular materials such as grains or rocks — behave both like a liquid that flows through fingers and a solid that forms dunes?

Physicists have a theoretical framework to predict how microscope objects like molecules flow and freeze but lack the fundamental concepts to describe how assemblies of macroscopic objects behave similarly.

Last year, Bulbul Chakraborty, the Enid and Nate Ancell Professor of Physics received a three-year, $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop the first predictive theoretical framework to characterize the collective behavior of a large number of macroscopic objects.

This theoretical representation of experimental data (Behringer Lab.) provides a quantitative tool for identifying the fluid to solid transition in a granular solid. The fluctuations in the net show the change in strength of the solid. Credit: Sumantra Sarkar, Brandeis University

She and her team are developing quantitative tools for identifying the fluid to solid transition in granular solids in order to build a theoretical framework to describe assemblies of macroscopic objects.

Here is a peak inside her lab.

The hunt for dark matter (and other fun physics in 2015)

There may not be an equation to prove it — but 2015 promises to be a big year for Brandeis physics.


In 2015, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN — the world’s largest science experiment — will reboot after two years of upgrades, with double the energy of its first run. The Brandeis High Energy Physics Group will be in the thick of it, exploring the newly discovered Higgs boson and hunting for supersymmetry, dark matter and extra dimensions.

With its National Science Foundation Grant renewed for six years at $12 million, The Brandeis Bioinspired Soft Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) will enter a new phase in 2015. Led by physicist Seth Fraden, the interdisciplinary group will continue its groundbreaking research into active biological matter and membranes materials, paving the way for soft robotics, novel drug delivery systems and artificial cells.

Over the next year, the Brandeis Astrophysics Group will continue its exploration of the cosmos, peering deep into the cores of galaxies and quasars, while Brandeis theorists continue to unravel the mysteries of quantum entanglement and gravity.

Expect new ideas and directions in undergraduate education as well, says professor Jané Kondev, physics department chair. In 2014, Kondev received a $1 million grant from The Howard Hughes Medical Institute to bolster interdisciplinary undergraduate research at Brandeis.

In 2015, physics professor Zvonimir Dogic and biology professor Melissa Kosinski-Colllins will begin collaborating on a new first-year lab course for premeds and life-science students, focusing on the physics of living systems.

Whether you’re interested in dark matter or active matter, 2015 promises to be an exciting year. Stay tuned!