Ira Gessel Is Honored at May 8 Conference

gesselIra Gessel, the Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor of Mathematics, is retiring from Brandeis University after more than 30 years of teaching and research. During this time, he has made significant contributions to mathematics and the field of combinatorics. Additionally, he has provided invaluable assistance to both colleagues and students.

A conference was held on Friday May 8, 2015 that celebrated Ira’s contributions and featured the following speakers:

Andrew Gainer-Dewar (Hobart and William Smith College)
Kyle Petersen (DePaul University)
Richard Stanley (MIT)
Dennis Stanton (University of Minnesota)
Guoce Xin (Capital Normal University)

The conference was followed by a dinner in his honor.

BrandeisNow provides additional information.

Rachel Woodruff Promoted to Assistant Professor

Rachel WoodruffRachel Woodruff has been promoted to Assistant Professor of Biology. Rachel joined the Brandeis faculty almost three years ago as an Instructor in Biology. During this time, Rachel has taught several Biology courses for undergraduate and Master’s students and recently guided Biology students as an Undergraduate Advising Head.

James Morris, Associate Professor, recently detailed Rachel’s importance to the Brandeis community:

“Rachel teaches courses for biology majors and non-majors. She regularly teaches Biology 14a-Genetics and Genomics, which is part of the introductory biology sequence. This course is taken by many first and second-year students. In addition, she teaches upper-level courses focusing on DNA damage and repair, as well as cancer, drawing on her research experience on DNA damage in bacteria and yeast. These classes include Biology 150b DNA Research and Mechanisms and Biology 172b Growth Control and Cancer. These seminar-style classes include opportunities to read and interpret scientific papers. She also teaches Biology 101b Molecular Biotechnology for advanced undergraduate and Master’s students, introducing students to techniques in molecular biology and teaching students to write their own research proposals. Finally, she teaches BISC 9b Biology of Cancer for non-majors, introducing this important topic to students in an accessible and engaging way.”

 

JBS Course Focuses on “Food, Lifestyle, and Health”

Elaine Lai, Senior Lecturer in Biology at Brandeis University, will be teaching a Justice Brandeis Semester (JBS) this summer titled Food, Lifestyle, and Health. The class runs from 6/1/2015 to 7/24/2015. The student receives 12 credits upon successful completion of the course. Food, Lifestyle, and Health will provide an immersive academic experience by combining academic training in the classroom with experiential learning in food labs.

The focus of this course will be to explore the link between food and health, specifically focusing on the factors that have lead to our national diabetes epidemic. Some of the issues studied will be the link between poverty and diabetes and diabetes and other chronic health conditions.

Applications for the Justice Brandeis Semester open on February 13, 2015. The application deadline is March 16, 2015.

Eve Marder Receives SfN Award

marderEve Marder, PhD, from Brandeis University and Richard Olivo, PhD, from Smith College will receive the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). The award will be presented at Neuroscience 2014, SfN’s annual meeting to be held on November 15-19 in Washington, DC.

The $5,000 prize will be split between Drs. Marder and Olivo. It recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to neuroscience education and training. Dr. Marder played a critical role in the establishment of one of the first undergraduate neuroscience training programs at Brandeis almost 25 years ago. Since then, she has continued to provide advice and support at all academic levels.

Read the SfN press release to learn more about this prestigious award.

 

Changes to the Biology major

The undergraduate degree programs in Biology at Brandeis will undergo substantial changes in curricula and in the requirements for the majors. The new rules will take effect for students matriculating in Fall 2013 or later.

A meeting to discuss the new changes in, and to answer questions students might have about, the Biology major will be held on Tuesday April 9 from 5-6 pm in Gzang 122.

The cornerstone of the new curriculum is the introduction of a new three semester set of courses: BIOL 14a (Genetics and Genomics), BIOL 15b (Cells and Organisms) and BIOL 16a (Evolution and Biodiversity). This sequence replaces the existing two semester sequence BIOL 22a/22b, and follows new pedagogical principles for teaching Biology.  At the same time, the expanded course sequence will help cover additional material that premedical students will need for the new MCAT exams that was not covered in core courses in the past.

The new set of courses can be taken in any order and is designed to be accessible to freshmen. By providing more flexibility and encouraging majors to take these courses early in their stay at Brandeis, students (and especially midyear entrants) will have greatly increased opportunities to take more advanced, specialized courses and to do research in their junior and senior years. BIOL 22a/22b will not be offered in 2013-2014, rather the new courses will commence in the fall.

There are two different degrees offered. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology provides students with a general background in biology and provides flexibility with fewer requirements for quantitative and physical science courses. The Bachelor of Science degree in Biology is an intensive biology option that provides students with a strong background in several areas of biology and is recommended for students pursuing a career in research.

Some changes of note: Physics I, II lecture and lab are required only for the BS, not for the BA.  BCHM 100 is no longer required for the BS.  The number of electives needed for the BA is 5, for the BS, it is 6;

Currently declared Biology majors will have the choice whether to pursue a degree under the old rules or the new rules – there is an online form to declare a choice, between current rules [the ones in effect when you matriculated] or the new rules, but there will be no mixing of rules.

With a new set of rules, advisors and students alike are grappling with how to handle the changes. Some documents prepared by the faculty may help:

How Life Works

how life worksAssociate Professor of Biology James Morris, together with several faculty members from Harvard, has recently written a new textbook, titled Biology: How Life Works, a book that seems likely to become a standard for teaching introductory biology to college students.

According to Morris,

“The last 20 years or so have seen remarkable and exciting changes in biology, education, and technology.  With these in mind, we re-thought what an introductory biology textbook could be.  Introductory biology is a student’s first exposure to college-level biology.  We wrote a book that provides a solid base on which to build and treats biology not as a list of terms and facts to be memorized, but instead as a 21st century science that is compelling and relevant to students’ lives..”

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