Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics, March 11 – 12, 2014


Cumrun Vafa

The Departments of Physics and Mathematics and Brandeis are incredibly excited to announce that this year’s Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics will be given by the world-renowned theoretical physicist Prof. Cumrun Vafa, the Donner Professor of Science Harvard University.  Prof. Vafa is one of the leading figures in the fields of string theory and quantum gravity, and he has been on the forefront of the exchange between string theory and geometry that has revolutionized both fields over the last thirty years. He is known for his immense intuition, creativity, and depth of thinking in physics and mathematics.

The Eisenbud Lectures are the result of a bequest by Leonard and Ruth-Jean Eisenbud, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of Leonard Eisenbud’s birth.  Leonard Eisenbud was a mathematical physicist at SUNY-Stony Brook; upon his retirement he moved to the Boston area, as his son David was a member of the Mathematics faculty at Brandeis, and was given a desk here.  The bequest is for an annual lecture series by physicists and mathematicians working on the boundary between the first two fields.

The Eisenbud lectures consist of three lectures.  The first is a colloquium-style lecture meant for a broad scientific audience.  The following two lectures are more technical lectures meant for experts in the field.  The schedule is:

Lecture 1: “String Theory and the Magic of Extra Dimensions”, Tuesday, March 11 at 4PM in Abelson 131.  Tea, coffee, and refreshments will be served at 3:30 outside of the lecture hall. A reception will follow the talk.

Lecture 2: “Recent Progress in Topological Strings I”, Wednesday, March 12 at 11 AM in Abelson 333.

Lecture 3: “Recent Progress in Topological Strings II”, Wednesday March 12 at 4 PM in Abelson 229.

We hope to see you all at what promises to be a very exciting series of talks!

— Albion Lawrence, Dept. of Physics. and Bong Lian, Dept. of Mathematics

Quantum Field Theory: An Interdisciplinary Study Group

William Hicks, a grad student in Physics, writes:

    This semester, graduate students from a wide range of departments will be coming together to study quantum field theory (QFT) as part of the interdisciplinary IGERT program. QFT is a subject whose mathematical underpinnings crop up in a wide range of seemingly unrelated fields, and the study group hopes to take advantage of the varied backgrounds of its members. Mathematicians in the group can help provide mathematical rigor, while physicists can help supply the physical intuition for many of the otherwise abstruse corners of the subject.  Students from other disciplines will be able to broaden the discussion by showing how some of the techniques discussed also show up in their fields.

The study group will meet from noon to 1:00 every Wednesday in Goldsmith 226. All are welcome!

Brandeis Café Science (Season 3)

The lineup for the 2013-14 edition of Brandeis Café Science has been released.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Division of Science, Brandeis Café Science features informal talks by science professors at Elephant Walk, a local restaurant on Main St in Waltham. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy a beverage and engage in conversation about science-related topics of interest.

The first talk, on October 7 at 6 pm, will feature Brandeis alum Greg Bearman PhD ’76 (Snapshot Spectra, USC Keck School of Medicine and the Israeli Antiquities Authority) discussing “Imaging and Conservation of Cultural Heritage: The Dead Sea Scrolls”.

Brandeis University and the Museum of Science, Boston, are collaborating on programming around a major exhibition of Dead Sea scrolls and artifacts from ancient Israel that will be at the museum from May 19 until Oct. 20.

IGERT Summer Institute

 The Brandeis IGERT program is hosting its first summer institute starting Wednesday, July 31 and running weekdays through Friday, August 9. This will be a series of lectures by experts inside and outside of Brandeis, together with some student seminars, aimed at graduate students across the sciences, especially (but not exclusively!) those doing theoretical work.

The lectures will run from 9:30-4 every day, with coffee at 9am, and ample time between lectures for questions and conversations.  They will be held in room 055 of the Lemberg Academic Center (note that Domenic’s will be open at that time, so lunch is available nearby).  Those interested in attending should RSVP to Tony Bottaro (bottaro@brandeis.edu) so that we can get a head count for coffee.

The lecturers are:

Parongama Sen (University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India), lecturing on applications of statistical physics to social science problems.
Henry Cohn (Microsoft Research, New England), lecturing on symmetry and optimization.
Ben Allen (Emmanuel College and Harvard), lecturing on evolutionary dynamics
Paul Miller (Brandeis), lecturing on aspects of theoretical neuroscience.
Blake LeBaron (Brandeis), lecturing on empirical puzzles in financial data, and applications of agent-based modeling.
Albion Lawrence (Brandeis), lecturing on fiber bundles (“gauge theory”) and their applications to deformable bodies (falling cats, swimming bacteria).

In addition, we will have seminars by IGERT students:

Sumantra Sarkar
Blake Stacey
Daniel Goldstein

and a schedule can be found on this webpage:


Summer Seminars Start on the Sixth

Science is a year-round endeavor, so science seminars will continue over the seminar, though the venues and times may shift.

D-Day for summer seminars this year is June 6, when the Biochemistry & Biophysics Summer Pizza Talks series kicks off with Dr Markus Grütter of the University of Zurich. Grütter will give a special summer on his recent breakthrough-structure of the first heterodimeric ABC transporter. This structure is important because the ABC transporter is a homologue of the CFTR channel (disrupted in cystic fibrosis, one of the most common human genetic diseases). The talk will be in Gerstenzang 121 at Noon on Thursday, June 6.

The Life Sciences Summer Research Seminar Series will start on Monday, June 24, with a talk by distinguished alumna Leslie Meltzer ’03, who has returned to the Boston area as Associate Director of U.S. Medical Affairs at Biogen IDEC, having paid a visit to the other coast to get a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Stanford in 2008, working with Karl Deisseroth. The Life Sciences Summer Research Seminar Series is organized by the Brandeis University Postdoctoral Association and will be held on Mondays at noon in Gerstenzang 121.

Haber 70th Bday Symposium on May 31/Jun 1

Jim Haber as a young professorWe’re holding a 70th Birthday Celebration for Jim Haber on Friday and Saturday this week (May 31 and June 1, 2013). Haber lab members past and present, as well of some of Jim’s colleagues and collaborators, will be giving talks to celebrate the occasion. Come learn about DNA repair and wish Jim a happy birthday! Talks will be held in the Shapiro Campus Auditorium, starting with keynote speaker Fred Alt at 1:15 Friday. The full speaker list is available.

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