Blavatnik Summer Science Research Fellowships at Brandeis University: Undergraduates, mentors advancing scientific frontiers amid a pandemic

Members of the Rosbash Lab, Brandeis University


Nature, the world’s leading periodical for publication of original research across all fields of science, recently ranked Brandeis University No. 5 in the world among institutions that “punch above their weight” in scientific research. It saluted researchers at the university in Waltham, Mass., for publishing more frequently in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals.

“Few people realize how extraordinary Brandeis University is when it comes to scientific research: an institution with the size, structure, and mission of a liberal arts college, but a research profile that puts it in the company of the country’s most prominent research institutions,” said Ron Liebowitz, president of Brandeis University.

Brandeis has been a member of the American Association of Universities – the consortium of North America’s 65 leading research universities – since 1985 and along with California Institute of Technology, is the smallest in the association.

And it has always attracted the best of the minds.

Brandeis’ division of science, within the School of Arts and Sciences, includes a MacArthur Fellow, three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, 10 National Academies fellows, a Kavli Prize winner, and a Nobel Prize winner.

The Blavatnik Summer Science Research Fellowships
The Blavatnik Summer Science Research Fellowships, launched in 2020, is a gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by Len Blavatnik. It will make it possible for 50 undergraduates to conduct frontier research in Brandeis labs over the next five years, under the mentorship of Brandeis’ outstanding scientists.

Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, the Summer 2020 fellows pursued research in cell biology, neuroscience, biophysics, biochemistry and environmental chemistry.

Three rising juniors spent the first part of summer working remotely, scouring and absorbing the relevant literature and doing computational analysis and modeling. By mid-June, seven of the rising seniors among the Blavatnik Fellows were able to return to their labs and will continue their work this year.

“The relationship between a top-ranked research program and undergraduate education is thus unusually close at Brandeis. Undergraduates are integrated into the vast majority of Brandeis laboratories,” Liebowitz said.

“The generous support by the Blavatnik Family Foundation really helps us to support these undergraduates, who have great ideas and want to lead cutting-edge research that will lead to the next big discovery,” he said.