Noam Saper ’15 named Goldwater Scholar

Noam Saper ’15, a Brandeis Chemistry major, has been named a Goldwater Scholar by The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. An exceptional student, Noam has been doing research with Christine Thomas and also with Barry Snider, seeking out experience in both organic and inorganic synthetic chemistry, with publication in press already from each lab.  Noam was a 2013 recipient of a Division of Science Summer Research Fellowship and a Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry Lab. He is also a Lerman-Neubauer Fellow, an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for Chemistry, and an active member in the Brandeis Orthodox Organization, In short, Noam is a hard-working and engaged member of the Brandeis community, and very deserving of this distinctive honor.


Noam presenting at a recent ACS national meeting

The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 80 Rhodes Scholarships, 117 Marshall Awards, 112 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Six scientists secure fellowships

One current undergraduate, and five alumni, from the Brandeis Sciences were honored with offers of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships in 2012. The fellowships, which are awarded based on a national competition, provide three full years of support for Ph.D. research and are highly valued by students and institutions. These students are:

  • Samuel McCandlish ’12 (Physics) , a current student who did research with Michael Hagan and Aparna Baskaran, resulting in a paper “Spontaneous segregation of self-propelled particles with different motilities” in Soft Matter (as a junior). He then switched to work with Albion Lawrence for his senior thesis research. Sam will speak about “Bending and Breaking Time Contours: a World Line Approach to Quantum Field Theory” at the Berko Symposium on May 14.  Sam has been offered a couple of other fellowships as well, so he’ll have a nice choice to make. Sam will be heading to Stanford in the fall to continue his studies in theoretical physics.
  • Briana Abrahms ’08 (Physics). After graduating from Brandeis, Briana followed her interests in ecological and conversation issues, and  in Africa as a research assistant with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, Briana previously described some of her experiences here in “Three Leopards and a Shower“. Briana plans to pursue as Ph.D. in Ecology at UC Davis.
  • Sarah Robinson ’07 (Chemistry). Sarah did undergraduate research with Irving Epstein on “Pattern formation in a coupled layer reaction-diffusion system”. After graduating, Sarah spent time with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, returning to study Neurosciene at UCSF.
  • Si Hui Pan ’10 (Physics) participated in a summer REU program at Harvard, and continued doing her honors thesis in collaboration with the labs at Harvard. Her award is to study condensed matter physics at MIT.
  • Elizabeth Setren ’10 was a Mathematics and Economics double major who worked together with Donald Shepard (Heller School) on the cost of hunger in the US. She has worked as an Assistant Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and her award is to study Economics at Harvard.
  • Michael Ari Cohen ’01 (Psychology) worked as a technology specialist for several years before returning to academia as  PhD student in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Winners Announced

It’s April, and planning is well underway for another exciting summer of research at Brandeis. In 2012 we have several new programs to provide financial support for undergraduates doing summer research; winners for several of those programs are announced below.

Jordan-Dreyer Summer Undergraduate Research Assistantships in the Department of Chemistry

Helen Stolyar ’14 (Krauss Lab)
Stephanie Chun ’13 (Krauss Lab)
Brian Williams ’13 (Agar Lab)
Alex de Denko  ’13 (Thomas Lab)
Charlene Liao  ’14 (Pontrello Lab)

Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Michal Dichter ’13, Physics/Philosophy, Chakraborty
Lien Phung ’13, Biochemistry, Kern
Shakara Scott ’13, Biochemistry/Chemistry, Pontrello
John Shen ’13, Biology/Chemistry, Thomas
Matthew Zunitch ’13, Neuroscience , Rodal
Elizabeth Allen ’14, Neuroscience/Classical Studies, Paradis
Daniel Boyle ’14, Biochemistry/Neuroscience, Lovett
Kaitlin Hulce ’14, Biochemistry, Pontrello
Michael Kosowsky ’14, Physics/Math, Roberts
Yasmin Marrero ’14, Biology, Katz

Undergraduate Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience

James Chin ’14, Biochemistry, Hedstrom
Gabriel Colton ’13, Psychology/Neuroscience, Gutchess
Brendan Hasz ’13, Neuroscience/Computer Science, P. Miller
James McGregor ’14, Biology, Turrigiano
Brian Slepian ’14, Neuroscience/Computer Science, Marder
Abigail Zadina ’13, Neuroscience, Rosbash

Beckman Scholar

Yisha Cheng ’14, Biology, Lovett

MRSEC Research Experience for Undergraduates Program

Jon Chavis, UMBC, Epstein Lab
Pengfei Li, UMass Dartmouth, Baskaran Lab
Alyssa Schwartz, University of Rochester, Xu Lab
Victoria Wu, Smith College, Chakraborty Lab
Reed Bay, RPI. Dogic Lab
Meaghan Molloy, UMass Amherst, Nicastro Lab

Funding for undergraduate research in Summer 2012

The Division of Science wishes to announce two new opportunities for Brandeis undergraduates seeking funding to support their undergraduate research in Summer 2012 and beyond. First, there are six available Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a new grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addition, generous alumni donations have enabled us to offer up to ten Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Followships. These programs are in addition to the two NSF-funded REU programs sponsored by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and the Program in Cell and Molecular Visualization. While the REU programs are primarily aimed at students visiting for the summer from other institutions, the two new programs are aimed at current Brandeis undergraduates.

The due date for applications to the new programs will be February 15, 2012.

Undergraduate Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Trainees are appointed for at least a year and up to two years.  Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project in computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science and this program (see below)
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required).

Students considering applying for the traineeships are strongly encouraged to sign up for NBIO 136b Computational Neuroscience in Spring 2012.

Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships will provide $5000 in stipend support to allow students to do summer research. Students who will be rising Brandeis sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Summer 2012, and working in a lab in the Division of Science at the time of application, are eligible to apply. A commitment from a Brandeis faculty member to serve as your mentor in Summer 2012 is required.

The Division of Science Summer Program will run from May 30 – Aug 3, 2012. Recipients are expected to be in residence during that period, and must commit to presenting a poster at the final poster session on Aug 2, 2012.

The application form is online (Brandeis login required). Questions may be addressed to Steven Karel <>

Brandeis Undergrads Gain Awards at SACNAS

On October 29th, 2011, Brandeis undergrads Lamia Harper (’12), Charity Frempomaa (’12), Sadrach Pierre (’13) and Carlos Pérez (’13) from our local SACNAS chapter represented Brandeis at the Annual Conference of the Society for Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in San José, California.  Lamia and Sadrach both received awards for their research poster presentations. Lamia, who works in the Paradis lab, won an award in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category for her poster: Gene Discovery: Protein Kinases that Affect Synapse Development in the Mammalian CNS. Sadrach, who works in the Thomas lab in Chemistry, was awarded under the Biochemistry category for his poster: Sulfoamide Boronic Acids as Inhibitors of Beta-Lactamase.

Beckman Scholarships and URP Awards for Summer 2011

Beckman Scholars and Undergraduate Research Program Winners

Summer 2011

Beckman Scholars

The 2011 Beckman Scholars are:

Frank Scangarello (mentor: Suzanne Paradis, Biology)
Multivalent Metalloproteases Inhibitors to Increase Small Molecule Avidity and Selectivity to Study Semaphorin4D-Cleavage Mediated Synaptic Nerve Development

Zhequan Xu (mentor: Christine Thomas, Chemistry)
Novel Catalyst Design for Green Fuels

URP Recipients

(only students from the Division of Science are included in this list)

Heather Bernstein ’12 (Language & Linguistics; Neuroscience) with Prof. Stephen Van Hooser
Stimulus Therapy & its Implications for Rehabilitation: Using Channelrhodopsin-2 to determine spike time-dependent plasticity in neurons of the primary visual cortex in postnatal ferrets at eye opening

James En Wai Chin ’14 (Chemistry) with Prof. Lizbeth Hedstrom
IMP dehydrogenase nucleic acid association (How do IMPDH mutants affect IMPDH nucleic acid binding?)

Nimrod Deiss-Yehiely ’12 (Biology) with Prof. Sacha Nelson
A mouse model for Infantile Spasms involving TTX

Scott Finkelstein ’12 (Biology) with Prof. Paul Miller
Comparative Success of Strategies in a Continuous Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma

Jessica Friedman ’13 (Biochemistry) with Prof. Tom Pochapsky
Insights into Substrate Recognition in Cytochrome P450cam

Julie Miller ’12 (Neuroscience) with Prof. Stephen Van Hooser
Roles of Inhibitory Neurons in Cortical Development

Anna Slavina ’12 (Psychology) with Prof. Art Wingfield
Selective syntactical attention among bilingual speakers

Sophie Travis ’13 (Biochemistry) with Prof. Dagmar Ringe
In vitro characterization of VPS35

Akash Vadalia ’12 (Biology; HSSP) with Prof. Angela Gutchess
Cross-Cultural Differences in the Specificity of Memory for Objects and Contexts

Alison White ’13 (Psychology) with Prof. Art Wingfield
Monitoring the Capacity of Short Term Memory

Abigail Zadina ’13 (Psychology) with Prof. Michael Rosbash
Huntington’s Disease: Insights into Mechanisms Involving Circadian Systems

Two more NSF GRFP fellowship winners

Brandeis had 1 current undergraduate, 7 undergraduate alunmi, and 1 incoming graduate student win NSF graduate research fellowships this year. In addition to those cited below, Richard Stefan Isaac ’10 and Orly Wapinski ’09 were also selected. Isaac graduated magna cum laude with a BS/MS degree with high honors in Biochemistry. His thesis work “Functional Characterization of Regulators of Bacterial Pathogenicity and
” was done in the Petsko/Ringe lab. His work teaching in the Biology laboratory also resulted in a paper  in CBE Life Science Education. Isaac is currently a graduate student at Univ. of California, San Francisco. Wapinsky received a BS degree with Highest Honors in Biology, doing in her thesis work “Characterization of Interferon Regulatory Factor-4 mutants” with Professor Ruibao Ren. Wapinski is currently studying at Stanford.

Daniel Graham ’10, and Aaron Gell ’10, and Jeffrey Dobereiner ’09 awarded 2011 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Former chemistry majors Daniel Graham ’10, Aaron Gell ’10, and Jeffrey Dobereiner ’09 have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. These Fellowships, geared towards ensuring the vitality of the country’s scientific workforce, support the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in scientific research.  Dan and Aaron are currently first year graduate students at MIT, pursuing Ph.D.s in inorganic chemistry.  Dan received highest honors in chemistry for thesis research conducted in the lab of Professor Christine M. Thomas, and is currently continuing to investigate chemical approaches to renewable energy strategies in the lab of Professor Daniel Nocera at MIT.  Aaron, also an inorganic chemist, conducted undergraduate research in the Brandeis chemistry department under the supervision of Professor Bruce Foxman. Jeff was a double major in anthropology and chemistry at Brandeis and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Archaeology at Harvard University, where he is applying his chemistry knowledge to the analysis of ancient artifacts. In addition, Delora Gaskins, a 2011 incoming graduate student in the area of physical chemistry, was awarded an NSF Fellowship.  Delora is completing her undergraduate degree at Cal. State. – Long Beach and hopes to join the lab of Professor Irving Epstein in the fall of 2011.

Keith Cheveralls ’09, Daniel Beller ’10, and Netta Engelhardt ’11 awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Former physics majors Keith Cheveralls ’09 and Daniel Beller ’10 and current physics major Netta Engelhardt ’11 have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in the US who have demonstrated exceptional promise in science research. Keith is currently a first year graduate student at UC Berkeley; while at Brandeis he did his senior thesis with Professor Jane Kondev and was a co-author on a paper that appeared last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dan, a first year graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, completed his senior thesis at Brandeis with Professor Zvonimir Dogic and Professor Robert Meyer.  Currently, Dan is conducting research on liquid crystals in the group of Professor Randall Kamien at UPenn. Netta is currently doing her senior thesis with Professor Matthew Headrick, and is planning to attend graduate school in physics next year.

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