Faculty Spotlight: Jason Pontrello

Jason K. Pontrello
Jason K. Pontrello, Associate Professor of Chemistry, will be teaching Organic Chemisty this summer at Brandeis.

Brandeis Summer School interviewed Jason Pontrello, Ph.D, an assistant professor in Chemistry at Brandeis University.  Jason has been teaching at Brandeis since the Fall of 2008 and will be teaching two courses this summer.  Check out the great interview below:


Brandeis University Summer School: How are your lab classes different than most?

Jason Pontrello: My lab courses focus on hypothesis development and interpretation of data rather than reproduction of expected or anticipated results from prior work. Half the lab experiments in the Fall semester incorporate the synthesis of a small molecule designed to inhibit the Tat protein/TAR-RNA interaction necessary for HIV replication. The experiments in the Spring semester incorporate the synthesis of metalloprotease inhibitors as well as compounds designed to affect protein aggregation in Huntington’s Disease. Students find, follow, and adapt procedures recently published in scientific literature, rather than relying on standardized textbook experiments. To carry out the reactions, students must learn how to use equipment that is commonly used in synthetic chemistry research labs. In addition, the Huntington’s Disease project represents a collaboration between introductory organic and biology teaching labs. The compounds organic chemistry students synthesize are tested in both in vitro and in vivo assays in the biology lab.

BUSS: What courses will you be teaching this summer?

JP: Organic Chemistry Lectures (Chemistry 25a/b) and Organic Chemistry Laboratories (Chemistry 29a/b)

BUSS: What do you think are the benefits of Brandeis Summer School for students?

JP: While the pace of a summer course is challenging to adapt to and required commitment to the enrolled course, the structure of the program and small size of the class (about 40 students) compared with the Fall/Spring semesters carry substantial benefits. Students are immersed in the subject of organic chemistry during 2 hour lecture, 4 days a week. This makes it possible to begin talking about a topic, and to finish during the same lecture or the next day. During the Fall/Spring semesters, with 3 lectures a week, topics often become fragmented and relevance can be lost as students are focusing on many other course requirements as well. I also noticed a strong group dynamic created among students in the summer classes. This same dynamic is experienced during Fall/Spring semesters, but it is more focused around the smaller recitations rather than the larger lecture course as a whole.

Want Brandeis Gear?

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We at Brandeis Summer School love both and we want to share the fun with our Facebook friends.  Starting this month, photos will be posted of landmarks and other objects that relate to Brandeis University.

You just have to guess what the image is by commenting on the photo, or “liking” the correct answer.  What can you get?  Brandeis gear, of course! What could be better?

So quick, like us on Facebook and watch your newsfeed for each opportunity to show your knowledge of Brandeis University and the Greater Boston area!

Mark Your Calendars – Key Dates Summer School 2013

logoLooking forward to Brandeis Summer courses this year? With the start of March, there are 37 school days left this semester – that means it’s almost summer and time to start planning for summer courses!

Below are some key dates for Brandeis Summer 2013:

March: Watch our Facebook page during this month for ways to earn Brandeis gear!

April: Early April is when registration begins for summer courses.  Priority applications for summer housing will be due this month.

May: May 24: Regular course selection in Sage ends for Session 1.

June: June 3: Summer Session 1 & Extended Summer Session begins

         June 28: Regular course selection in Sage ends for Session 2.

July: July 8: Summer Session 2 begins

Stay up-to-date with Brandeis Summer School with email updates.  Click here for a simple sign-up!

Protest, Politics, and Change: Social Movements

Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and the namesake of Brandeis University.
Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and the namesake of Brandeis University.

“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” (Louis Brandeis)

Louis Brandeis, the namesake of Brandeis University, was a fierce defender of social justice in America.  Beginning his career as a lawyer, Louis worked to undermine corporations, monopolies,  and public corruption. He would work on cases without pay, defending workers who experienced injustice at the hands of railroad monopolies.   In 1916, he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson.  The Senate confirmed his nomination, but not before mild protests arose claiming that if he was appointed the social order would be compromised.  Louis was not only a man for the people, he was also the first Jewish person appointed to the Court.  For more biographical information on Louis Brandeis, follow this link.

In many ways, Louis Brandeis showed the American people what change was possible.  Although he did not spark his own social movement, he brought revolutionary changes to practicing law.  The “right to privacy” and the utilization of expert witnesses were his brainchildren.  If you are interested in social movements, then Protest, Politics, and Change: Social Movements, a sociology course offered during Brandeis’ Summer Session, may be the perfect match for you. This course utilizes case studies of actual movements to examine a variety of approaches to contentious politics. Some of the topics covered include collective behavior, resource mobilization, rational choice, and newer interactive models.  For more information about the Brandeis sociology program, click here.

If you’re interested in Brandeis Summer School and want to stay up-to-date on new courses and registration procedures, take a moment to sign-up for email reminders: sign-up now!

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