Connecting with underrepresented minorities in the sciences

For the past six years, Brandeis has been participating yearly at two undergraduate-oriented conferences in an effort to recruit the best minority students for the life sciences graduate programs. These two conferences are: SACNAS (Society for advancing Hispanics/chicanos and Native American in science) and ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical research conference for minority students).

This year SACNAS was held at Anaheim, CA during September 30 and October 3. Professor Jim Morris and 2 graduate students represented Brandeis and interacted with post-docs, graduate students, pre college teachers, undergrads and other 300 exhibitors. The theme of this year conference was Science, Technology & Diversity for a Sustainable Future. In addition, SACNAS combined efforts with MAES (Society for Mexican American engineers and scientists) in order to make the experience more interdisciplinary.

For the past 30 years SACNAS has been holding this conference to enforce the underrepresented minority population in science to pursue advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership. A Brandeis SACNAS chapter was created over a year ago, in order to provide information and give access to professional tools to all the undergrads interested in pursuing careers in science. This year, the Brandeis SACNAS chapter was recognized during the meeting as a new chapter, and 9 of our undergraduates participated in the conference; 2 of them Angel Garcia and Kerwin Vega, presented their research in the poster sessions. You can also connect with the Brandeis chapter on Facebook.

– Yaihara Fortis

The Changing Face of Science Reflected in Exciting New Courses

Exciting advances in science are reflected in at least 9 new courses to be offered by the Division of Science. From epigenetics to medicinal enzymology to stem cells to MATLAB, these courses will expose students to some of the frontiers of new knowledge in science.

Details of the courses offered can be found on the following pages

Summer Research

During the summer of 2010, over 50 undergraduates worked in faculty laboratories at Brandeis doing science research. The undergraduates were sponsored by the NSF MRSEC grant, ARRA funding from NINDS, the Beckman Foundation, and other federal and private sources. The ten-week summer program included weekly research seminars that were multidisciplinary with a wide variety of topics. The program culminated in a poster session at the end of the summer, held in the spacious atrium of the new Shapiro Science building. The poster session provided an excellent opportunity for faculty, students and post-docs to informally discuss their new research findings.

Brandeis Undergrad chooses Science Museum over the Dorms

…but the housing lottery is a lot more competitive!

Alex Dainis, an undergraduate student in the Garrity Lab, has made it to the final five of over one-thousand people competing to spend an entire month living in the Chicago Museum of Science.  Her responsibilities will include blogging, tweeting, plus getting her typing hands dirty doing science demonstrations– ultimately communicating science to the public using diverse media.  Alex comes well-equipped with a double major in film and biology, and wants to use her expertise to shatter (nay, “DESTROY”)  stereotypes regarding both science and scientists.

So please take a moment to vote for Alex, and help her help Science make friends with the public!

See coverage of the competition on Wired.com and Huffington Post here and here, respectively.

Congratulations, Alex!

Neuroscience major at NCAA championships

Read about Grayce Selig ’11, Neuro major and track star, at brandeisjudges.com. In addition to her athletic exploits, Grayce is also involved in undergraduate research on human learning and face perception in the Fiser lab in Psychology.

Department of Education grant awarded to Dr. Melissa Kosinski-Collins

As a former T.A. for Introduction to Biology Lab, the core Biology course required of all undergraduate Biology and Pre-med majors, I remember the challenges of trying to help 25 students all try to load their DNA samples onto one gel.  Then there was the subsequent Great Trek to the Gel Doc which was housed up a flight of stairs in a space only large enough to permit groups of 4 students to see what was going on.  Yes, Science is tough– but limited equipment should not be the main reason for this.

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Kosinski-Collins‘ efforts in applying for and receiving a grant from the Department of Education, future students of Intro Bio Lab will have access to their own Gel Doc, specrophotometers, new incubators, a fluorimeter, and perhaps most impressively an atomic force microscope.  And all of this housed in beautiful new teaching labspace  in the Shapiro Science Center.

The official title of the grant is “Key to the university program: Equipment for development of an interdisciplinary research experience into the undergraduate science laboratory.”

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