Frances Colón named deputy science advisor to Clinton

Frances Colón (PhD ’04, Neuroscience) has recently been named Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Colón did her graduate research at Brandeis in Susan Birren’s lab, studying the roles of growth factors in the differentiation of peripheral neurons. After leaving Brandeis, she won a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, and has worked in the science policy arena at the State Department since then, focusing on Western Hemisphere science and environment issues.

Birren was enthusiastic about the news, commenting:

I am excited that Frances is now the Deputy Science and Technology advisor for Hilary Clinton.  This is a great and well-deserved next step for Frances.   As a graduate student in neuroscience here at Brandeis she had a deep commitment to science education in underserved communities.  I know that her knowledge, insight and enthusiasm will be valuable in shaping science policy at the national level.

American Academy of Arts & Sciences elects Turrigiano, Luo and Berger.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences recently announced its 2012 class of Fellows, including 3 current and former Brandeis scientists.

Professor of Biology Gina Turrigiano and graduate alumnus Liqun Luo (PhD ’92, Biology) were elected in the Neurosciences, Cognitive Sciences, and Behavioral Biology section. Undergraduate alumna Bonnie Berger ’83 was elected in the Mathematics section.

Turrigiano’s lab works on the plasticity of synaptic and intrinsic properties of cortical neurons and circuits. Turrigiano has been previously honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and with the Human Frontier Science Program Nakasone Award for “frontier-moving research in biology“. Luo, who did his graduate research with Kalpana White at Brandies,  is now Professor of Biology at Stanford University and an HHMI Investigator. His lab studies how neural circuits are organized and assembled during development. Berger discovered her interest and talent for math as an undergraduate at Brandeis, graduating with a degree in computer science. She obtained her PhD at MiT, where she is now Professor of Applied Mathematics and head of the Computation and Biology group at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Berger has continued to support Brandeis through her active membership in the Brandeis University Science Advisory Council.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences elects leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs. Among the others elected this year are Mel Brooks, Clint Eastwood, Frederica von Stade, Melinda Gates and Hilary Clinton.

See also Brandeis NOW.

UPDATE (5/1/2012): Liqun Luo was elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year.

Sounds of Science

Found on the web: Sounds of Science. This group, including Jaclyn Novatt ’01 (BA/MS Chemistry), now a postdoc at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories as well as an accomplished cellist), makes music using laboratory sounds. To quote them:

We are a diverse group of individuals, including musicians and scientists (and some people who are both, and more). We have recorded a collection of sounds related to biological research and used them as the basis for musical compositions. We aim to bring research science to the public, through music,

Surgeon-scientist Friedlander ’87 to speak on Wednesday, Feb 29

Robert Friedlander, MD, Chairman and Professor of Neurological Surgery at Univ. Pittsburgh Medical Center, will visit campus on Wednesday, Feb 29. Dr. Friedlander is a graduate of the Biochemistry Department at Brandeis (BA/MA, 1987). He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1991 followed by a residency in neurosurgery (also at Harvard).

Dr. Friedlander is a leading scientist investigating the mechanisms of neuronal cell death in a broad spectrum of neurological diseases. His work has developed new approaches for the treatment of stroke, brain and spinal cord injury as well as Huntington’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He is one of a very select group of authors to have been invited by the New England Journal of Medicine to write both a basic science review (mechanisms of neuronal cell death), as well as a clinical review (management of AVMs).

Friedlander will lecture on the Role of CASPASES in Neurologic Issues in the Joint Biology/Biochemistry Seminar Series at 4:00 pm in Gerstenzang 121.

Friedlander has also kindly agreed to be available to talk to pre-medical students who might want to hear about medical school, the ins-and-outs of an academic career as a surgeon scientist, and strategies for getting into med school. The meeting will be held at 5:15 pm on Wednesday, also in Gerstenzang 121.


Barry awarded Joseph Katz Fellowship from Argonne Natl Lab

Edward Francis Barry (PhD ’11) has recently been awarded the prestigious Argonne Scholar-Joseph Katz Postdoctoral Fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory. Ed began his scientific career studying the self-assembly of fd virus with Zvonimir Dogic, during the latter’s Junior Fellowship at the Rowland Institute at Harvard University. When Dogic joined the physics faculty at Brandeis, Ed also came to Brandeis as a Ph.D. student and helped to start the Dogic lab. Ed published seven papers describing various novel assemblages found in the fd system. Most notably, his 2010 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper describing the physical properties of colloidal membranes won the 2010 Cozzarelli Prize for scientific excellence. As the Katz fellow, Ed will be working between Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, where he is working with Experimental Condensed Matter Professor Heinrich Jaeger studying the self-assembly of monolayers composed of nanoparticles.

Koushika (PhD ’99) gains HHMI International Early Career Scientist award

Sandhya P. Koushika, a gradute of Brandeis’s Molecular and Cell Biology program (PhD, 1999), and currently running a lab at the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, has been named an HHMI International Early Career Scientist. This pilot program of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute seeks to identify scientists working abroad with the potential to become scientific leaders, and awards each with $650,000 over five years to help establish independent research programs. Of 28 scientists from 12 countries so named, Koushika was the only recipient in India. While at Brandeis, Koushika worked in Kalpana White‘s lab on the role of ELAV in neural develeopment in Drosophila. In her postdoc, Koushika switched systems to work in the worm C. elegans, and her lab is currently focused on genetic techniques to study axonal transport, a key feature of nerve cells, in the worm model.

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