“Lessons from the Lobster” details Eve Marder’s research

Lessons from Lobster. Photo courtesy of MIT.By Eve Marder

Students often tell me that they don’t want to be scientists because it is too lonely. That always surprises me, because laboratories are filled with people. One of the conclusions that readers of Charlotte Nassim’s “Lessons from the Lobster” should take from the book is that laboratories are communities of scholars of all ages. Lifelong friendships are often formed and sustained as laboratory colleagues may spend as much time together as they do with other friends and family. When Charlotte approached me about writing the story of my research, I was very surprised because there are many eminent neuroscientists, including many other eminent female neuroscientists. What convinced me to work with Charlotte was her wish to reach teenage girls, before they decided that a career in science was not for them. And this decision was validated when a few days ago, one of the students (now working in a neighboring lab) whom I had taught in NBio 140, Principles of Neuroscience, told me that she loved the book, but wished she had had it when she was in high school. We agreed that after she finished the book, that she would donate it to her small home town library, in the hopes that it would encourage other high school students to consider becoming scientists.

Charlotte’s book is a piece of science history. She read our lab notebooks, and talked to many ex-lab members. Her choices of what to emphasize and how to frame the scientific issues speak as much about what she finds scientifically and sociologically interesting as it does about what I was thinking. By reading deeply, she relied not only on my flawed memory, but on what I and others had written. For me, it is an extraordinary reminder that even scientists who revere data have only partial recollections of their own intellectual paths.

Hongfu Liu Joins Computer Science as Assistant Professor

Dr. Hongfu Liu has joined the Michtom School of Computer Science at Brandeis University as a tenure-track assistant professor. He received his Ph.D. in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Northeastern University (NEU), supervised by Prof. Yun (Raymond) Fu within 3.5 years. Before joining NEU, he earned his master and bachelor degrees in management from the Beihang University with Prof. Junjie Wu. He also received two minor bachelor degrees in applied mathematics and laws.

His current research interests lie in data mining, machine learning  and related applications on business intelligence, computer vision and bioinformatics. He has published several papers in top conferences and journals, such as KDD, ICDM, SDM, AAAI, IJCAI, T-PAMI, T-KDE, T-IP, DMKD, BMC and so on. He is also the reviewer for several top conferences and journals. He has been nominated as KDD Top 20 rising star all over the world in 2016.

John Wilmes Joins Math Department as Assistant Professor

John Wilmes, Assistant Professor of MathJohn Wilmes starts as an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics in Fall 2018. Along with two other new faculty members, Jonathan Toubol and Thomas Fai, he will contribute to the new Applied Mathematics major. His research is in discrete mathematics and the theory of computing, particularly focusing on structure and symmetry in networks. John’s research is motivated by the analysis of algorithms on discrete structures and machine learning theory.

Before joining Brandeis, John spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he received the Outstanding Postdoctoral Research award from the College of Computing. He completed his PhD as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Chicago under the supervision of László Babai.

At Brandeis, John plans to continue studying the symmetries of discrete structures and developing rigorous analyses of machine learning algorithms. He is particularly interested in using insights from neuroscience as inspiration for new algorithms.

May 30th “What is the universe made of?” features Soares-Santos

Marcelle Soares-Santos

On Wednesday, May 30, at 9:00 pm, Marcelle Soares-Santos, Assistant Professor of Physics at Brandeis will be a part of the premier of the PBS’ program “NOVA Wonders What is the Universe Made of?” This program provides an introduction to dark matter and dark energy. Researchers admit that, aside from being able to deduce the presence of these phenomena, they have little idea of how each works. “We have no idea what is the physics underlying it,” Marcelle says in the film, referring to dark energy.

In the program, the filmmakers travel to the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile just as scientists are detecting gravitational waves. Soares-Santos participated in this discovery.

Maria de Boef Miara Promoted to Assistant Professor

Maria MiaraMaria de Boef Miara was recently promoted to Assistant Professor of Biology. Since joining Brandeis five years ago as an adjunct instructor, she has particularly enjoyed teaching the Human Physiology course and is excited to be developing an accompanying lab course for Fall 2018. This course will give students the opportunity to learn about human physiology experientially, using the most up-to-date technology. It will also allow students interested in health careers an opportunity to complete an important prerequisite.

By studying how their physiology changes under a variety of conditions, students will get a hands-on feel for the subject. For instance, they will observe how cardiovascular and respiratory systems change when they exercise. They will witness how muscle activation differs between different body positions, such as the difference between winning and losing an arm wrestling match. They will determine whether they are able to respond more quickly to visual or auditory stimuli. And, by the end of the semester, they will be able to design and conduct their own experiments to study a physiological phenomena of their choosing.

Maria is excited for the opportunity to work more closely with her students in these smaller lab sections. She feels very fortunate to be able to work with the motivated, curious, and collaborative undergraduates found at Brandeis and she looks forward to giving them the space and support to explore their interests in human physiology.

Congratulations to Maria!

 

Jonathan Touboul is new Associate Professor in Mathematics

Jonathan Touboul is a new associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. He is also associated to the Neuroscience program, and member of the Volen National Center for Complex Systems. His research deals with mathematical equations modeling the behavior of neurons and networks of the brain. He is also interested in understanding how the brain is interconnected and if or how these interconnection patterns play a role information processing, learning and memory.

Prior to joining Brandeis, Jonathan Touboul led for a research team at Collège de France in Paris, within the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology. He received his PhD in Mathematics from École Polytechnique (Paris) and spent some time as a postdoc at Pittsburgh University with Bard Ermentrout and at the Rockefeller University with Marcelo Magnasco.

At Brandeis, he intends to pursue his researches in models of large-scale neural networks, learning, memory and synchronized oscillations in Parkinson’s disease.

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