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

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

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce the availability of the Jordan-Dreyer Summer Research Fellowships for the Summer of 2012 to work in a lab in the Department of Chemistry. The fellowships provide a total of $3000 for a ten week period. It may be possible to supplement the stipend with research funds from other sources. A commitment from a Chemistry faculty member to serve as your mentor in Summer 2012 is required.

The 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 deadline is 01 March 2012. Applications from declared chemistry majors will receive a strong preference. Please send either paper or electronic materials to Anna Battista, Undergraduate Senior Coordinator, Department of Chemistry, MS015,

Required Material:

  1. Current CV for the applicant;
  2. Unofficial Transcript;
  3. One page description of proposed research, with student and supervisor names clearly identified at the top of the page;
  4. Two letters of reference, one of which must be from the summer supervisor.

Please contact Prof. Foxman ( for questions/further information.

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.

13th Annual Northeast Student Chemistry Research Conference (NSCRC)

The timing and location of this conference would seem to make it ideal for undergraduates to present their research — follow the links below if interested.

April Jewell of the NSYCC wrote:

As Chair of the Northeast Section Younger Chemist Committee (NSYCC), I would like to invite the Undergraduate and Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Candidates from your department to participate in the 13th Annual Northeast Student Chemistry Research Conference (NSCRC). I would appreciate it if you would forward this information on my behalf. The NSCRC will be held at Northeastern University’s Curry Student Center on Saturday, April 30th, 2011.

The Northeast Student Chemistry Research Conference (NSCRC) is organized for students by students. It is devoted to the research of undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral chemistry students, providing a relaxed atmosphere for students to share their work. The day-long event features student poster and oral research presentations, a keynote speaker, awards, and catered lunch. The conference encourages students to network and get feedback from their peers. The 1st NSCRC was held April 24, 1999 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The deadline for abstract submission is Friday, April 8th, at 5pm. Please visit our website at for submission instructions.

Back to class

2010 Beckman Scholar Philip Braunstein ’12 discusses his research project in the Hedstrom lab at the last class meeting of Organic Chemistry CHEM 25a. Training the scholars in communicating science and improving the visibility of undergraduate research are key components of the Beckman Scholars program.

Photographs by Nathaniel Freedman

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