Pioneering geneticist Frederick Alt ’71 wins 44th Rosenstiel Award

Geneticist Frederick Alt ’71 will be awarded the 44th Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Biomedical Science by Brandeis University for his pioneering research exploring the mechanisms of genomic instability and its implications for the immune system and cancer cells. Alt is the second alumnus to win the Rosenstiel Award; the first, Rod McKinnon ’78, won the Rosenstiel in 1999 and went onto win the Nobel Prize in 2003. Learn more on Brandeis Now …

Greater Boston Area Statistical Mechanics Meeting, Nov 8

Brandeis will host the 16th annual Greater Boston Area Statistical Mechanics Meeting (GBASM) on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, from 9:30-3:00. GBASM is a workshop that brings together researchers interested in statistical mechanics, nonlinear dynamics, condensed matter physics, biophysics, and related topics for a day of presentations and discussions.  The meeting consists of four invited talks (30 min.), and a larger number of contributed “table talks”.

The four invited speakers for this year are:

The contributed talks will follow the format we adopted last year. Instead of three minute talks with a limited time for questions, contributors will give a brief announcement of their work in the lecture hall. We will then move to the adjacent room where each contributor will sit at a table with their laptop or tablet and discuss their research with interested participants. This format will eliminate the expense associated with posters and provide greater feedback to contributors. The time preparing for a “table talk” should be similar to preparing for a short talk.

The cost of the meeting is subsidized by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Brandeis University; the Department of Physics, Boston University; the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Harvard University. Thanks to these subsidies, bagels, coffee, tea, and lunch will be provided at no cost if you register by the deadline of Saturday, Nov. 1.

More information   |  Registration


New England Complex Fluids Workshop this Friday, September 19

Next Friday, September 19, is the New England Complex Fluids Workshop at Brandeis. The workshop’s objective is to exchange information and encourage collaboration among researchers from industry and academe studying Soft Materials. Please consider presenting a “soundbite” consisting of a 4 minute update on your research in the form of 4 powerpoint slides. The soundbite concept is to present ongoing work, rather than completed projects.  It is the 60th meeting of NECFW, which has members from 15 regional universities and is a good opportunity for you to show your work to an audience from outside of Brandeis.  Registration is required at New England Complex Fluids Workshop, but free.
Thank you.
60th New England Complex Fluids Workshop
Shapiro Campus Center Theater
Brandeis University
September 19, 2014
Registration & Coffee: 9:00 – 9:30 AM
Shapiro Campus Center, Room 236.
2 Talks: 9:30AM – 11:00 AM, Shapiro Theater (30 minutes + 10 discussion)
9:30 AM – Eric Brown, Engineering, Yale
 Dynamic behavior of shear thickening suspensions
10:15 AM – Jorn Dunkel, Math, MIT (30 minutes + 10 discussion)
Hydrodynamics and control of microbial swimming
Coffee: 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Shapiro Center, Room 236
Sound Bites: 11:30 – 12:30 PM, Shapiro Theater
Four minute updates of current research
Lunch: 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Shapiro Center, Room 236
2 Talks: 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM, Shapiro Theater
1:30 PM – Alexandra Zidovska, Physics, NYU (30 min + 10 discussion)
Positional Fluctuations of Interphase Chromatin
2:15 PM – Erkan Tuzel, Physics, WPI (30 min + 10 discussion)
 Cooperative intracellular transport by populations of different kinesin motors
Coffee: 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Shapiro Center, Room 236
Sound Bites: 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, Shapiro Theater
Four minute updates of current research
Registration (free) required:
Registration deadline: 8am, September 17, 2014
Sponsored by the Brandeis University NSF MRSEC: Bioinspired Soft Materials

Odor Recognition & Brute-Force Conversions

Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience will be publishing an interesting paper written by Honi Sanders and John Lisman (with co-authors Brian E. Kolterman, Roman Shusterman, Dmitry Rinberg, Alexei Koulakov) titled, “A network that performs brute-force conversion of a temporal sequence to a spatial pattern: relevance to odor recognition“. Honi Sanders has written a preview of this paper.

by Honi Sanders

Lisman_ProvisionalPDF_BLThere are many occasions in which the brain needs to process information that is provided in a sequence. These sequences may be externally generated or internally generated. For example, in the case of understanding speech, where words that come later may affect the meaning of words that come earlier, the brain must somehow store the sentence it is receiving long enough to process the sentence as a whole. On the other hand, sequences of information also are passed from one brain area to another.  In these cases too the brain must store the sequence it is receiving long enough to process the message as a whole.

One such sequence is generated by the olfactory bulb, which is the second stage of processing of the sense of smell.  While individual cells in the olfactory bulb will fire bursts in response to many odors, the order in which they fire is specific to an individual odor. How such a sequence can be recognized as a specific odor remains unclear.  In Sanders et al, we present experimental evidence that the sequence is discrete and therefore contains a relatively small number of sequential elements; each element is represented in a given cycle of the gamma frequency oscillations that occur during a sniff. This raises the possibility of a “brute force” solution for converting the sequence into a spatial pattern of the sort that could be recognized by standard “attractor” neural networks.  We present computer simulations of model networks that have modules; each model can produce a persistent snapshot of what occurs during a given gamma cycle. In this way, the unique properties of the sequence can be determined at the end of sniff by the spatial pattern of cell firing in all modules.

The authors thank Brandeis University High Performance Computing Cluster for cluster time. This work was supported by the NSF Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience, NSF IGERT, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Genetics Training Grant Retreat to be held Friday, 9/26/14

The annual Genetics Training Grant seminar is being held on Friday, September 26th at the Shapiro Campus Center Auditorium at Brandeis University. Four cutting-edge synthetic biologists: Timothy Lu, Ron Weiss, William Shih and Ahmad Khalil will share their research for the Synthetic Biology: Insights and Applications” symposium.
Brandeis graduate students and post-docs will have the opportunity to meet the speakers and present their work in a poster session after the talks. We encourage researchers from all departments to contribute. If you are currently, or previously were on the Genetics Training Grant, presentation of a poster is expected. 

Schedule for GTG Retreat

9:30-10:30 Ron Weiss (MIT, Dept. of Biological Engineering)
“Synthetic biology: from parts to modules to therapeutic systems.”
10:30-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00-12:00 Timothy Lu (MIT, Dept. of Biology Engineering)
“Synthetic biology for human health applications.”
12:00-1:30 Break/Lunch
1:30-2:30 William Shih (Wyss Institute)
“DNA nanostructures as building blocks for molecular biophysics and future therapeutics.”
2:30-3:30 Ahmad Khalil (Boston University, Biomedical Engineering)
“Building molecular assemblies to control the flow of biological information.”
3:30-5:00 Poster session
Shapiro Science Center 2nd floor.
All life sciences students are invited to present.

Institutional Betrayal: The case of Campus Sexual Assault

freyd1Please join us and The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program for a special lecture:

Institutional Betrayal: The case of Campus Sexual Assault

Presented by Prof. Jennifer Freyd
University of Oregon
Department of Psychology

Friday, September 12, 2:00 PM
Sachar International Center, Wasserman Cinematheque

Co-sponsored by The Department of Psychology, The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, The Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences
Hosted by Prof. Ray Knight

John Wardle Named Division of Science Head

John Wardle, Division of ScienceSusan Birren, Dean of Arts and Sciences, has announced that John Wardle, Professor of Physics, will be the new Head of the Division of Science.

The following is Susan’s email:

“I am pleased to announce that John Wardle will be the new Head of the Division of Science.  John is an astrophysicist and Professor of Physics and is a former chair of the Physics department.  In his new role he will oversee science-wide programs and initiatives, including the summer undergraduate research program and will work with Division of Science faculty and staff to identify new directions for the division.  I am delighted that he has agreed to take on this role and I hope that you will join with me in welcoming him.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Eve Marder who, as the first Head of the Division, created and steered many of the priorities of the Division.  During her time as Head, Eve ably represented the Sciences at Brandeis and beyond, worked to make the Summer Undergraduate Science Program a flourishing success, changed the way we trained students and postdocs in the ethical conduct of research, and worked tirelessly to secure funding and recognition for the Sciences.  Thank you Eve!”

Gina Turrigiano Named One of the “30 Most Influential Neuroscientists Alive Today”

Gina Tturrigiano405urrigiano has been named one of the “30 Most Influential Neuroscientists Alive Today” by the Online Psychology Degree Guide.

The guidelines for selecting the neuroscientists include: leadership, applicability (neuroscientists that have created technologies that have improved people’s lives); awards & recognition by the international science community and other notable accomplishments such as personal or educational achievements.

Gina Turrigiano is the author of numerous papers, has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and the HFSP Nakasone Award, and in 2013 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

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