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Stu Halpern’s Five Tips for Choosing a Major

Biotechnology researcher or social entrepreneur? Entertainment lawyer or city engineer? Pulpit rabbi or web developer?

At Yeshiva University, students can pave their way to all of these exciting careers and more. But for those  just beginning their university studies, the wide range of options can, at times, be overwhelming. How do you know which field—or which track in that field— is the right fit for you?

To help students answer this question, academic advising will host two events next week. On March 11, a Majors Panel (Rubin Shul, 5:45-6:45 p.m.) will convene students from a wide array of majors chosen by their department chairs to speak about their experience choosing and pursuing their major and take questions from fellow students. On March 13, major-hunters will have the opportunity to meet and speak directly with department chairs of each major at the Majors Fair (Furst Hall 501, 5:45-6:45 p.m.) to learn more about specific fields, network with faculty mentors and plan their academic career. Deans, academic advisers and Career Center representatives will also be on hand.

“These are great opportunities for students to get a sense of what they can do here and what professions or fields play to their strengths and interests,” said Dr. Stu Halpern, academic adviser on the Wilf Campus. Below, Halpern offers five tips for students deciding on a major. Read the rest of this entry…


Dec 4, 2006 — “Organizing an international conference is a big, big thing,” said Gabriel Cwilich, PhD, associate professor of physics at Yeshiva College, before leaving in early December for the Pan-American Scientific Institute in Mar del Plata, Argentina, which he and YC physics professors Fredy R. Zypman, PhD, and Sergey Buldyrev, PhD coordinated.

The three professors are all co-principal investigators of the institute, which runs from December 11-20 and is co-sponsored by Yeshiva University. They spearheaded the effort to bring together over 100 leading physicists and researchers from all over the world to participate in the conference, titled “From Disordered Systems to Complex Systems.” The three received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to organize the institute last year.

The physicists will discuss topics ranging from polymeric systems to a quantitative analysis of climate.

While the NSF—which finances the institutes to foster scientific collaboration between North and South America—provided a grant of $100,000, YU contributed additional monies to the project, enabling four undergraduates to attend an event “that is traditionally open only to graduate students, post-docs, and researchers,” says Dr. Cwilich.

“Several of the students may have a chance to present their own work at the conference,” said Dr. Cwilich before leaving for Argentina. But, he stressed, all the students helped organize the conference and would “learn by exposure to a research environment – to see how it is done.”

Physics major Elie Wolfe said he was looking forward to “networking with professors and students with similar interests.” Students Eli Lansey, Ari Lapin, and Perry Fox also attended.

To finish teaching his courses before leaving for Argentina, Dr. Cwilich held additional classes, some from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., others on Sundays—an arrangement that he was pleasantly surprised the students supported.

“Our professors are interested in teaching us as well as involving us in research. Taking us to this conference enables them to do both of these,” said Mr. Lansey.


Jan 27, 2006 — Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and its Manhattan hospital affiliate, Beth Israel Medical Center, have found that a specific mutation in a single gene is a major cause of Parkinson’s disease among Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. The report will appear in the January 26 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Like the discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations for breast cancer, this finding will directly affect the way Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed in Ashkenazi Jews,” says Dr. Susan B. Bressman, senior investigator of the report, who also is Chairperson of Neurology at Beth Israel, as well as Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology at Einstein. “It also emphasizes the benefit of focusing genetic studies in a specific ethnic group, even with regard to a disease not thought to be primarily genetic in origin.”

“Up until now, genetic counseling for Parkinson’s disease hasn’t really been considered,” adds study co-author Dr. Laurie J. Ozelius, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics at Einstein. “Our finding should bring genetic counseling for Parkinson’s disease to the forefront along with genetic testing for early detection of Parkinson’s disease.”

The researchers focused on a gene called LRRK2, which is mutated in about 1% of late-onset non-familial cases of Parkinson’s disease in those patients who are primarily of European ancestry. Their study involved 120 unrelated Ashkenazi Jewish Parkinson’s disease patients who had been seen as outpatients at Beth Israel’s neurology department and screened for the gene.

For comparison, a control group of 317 Ashenazi Jews who did not have Parkinson’s disease was also studied. DNA was extracted from white blood cells or cheek cells of all the study participants and analyzed for mutations.

The G2019S mutation—the most common of several possible LRRK2 mutations—was detected in 18.3 percent (22 out of 120) of the Ashkenazi Jewish Parkinson’s patients compared with only 1.3 percent (4 out of 317) of control patients.

The mutation’s role was even more dramatic when the 120 Parkinson’s disease patients were divided into those (37) with a family history of the disease (defined as having at least one affected first, second, or third degree relative) and those (83) with no family history. The G2019S mutation was found in 29.7 percent (11/37) of the familial Parkinson’s cases but also in 13.3 percent (11/83) of so-called sporadic or nonfamilial cases. The frequency of this mutation among Ashkenazi Parkinson’s patients was 15 to 20 times higher than has been reported among patients of European ancestry in general.

In addition to Ashkenazi Jews, the researchers note that a group of North Africans of Arab descent have been found to have a high frequency of this same gene mutation as a cause of Parkinson’s disease. The two groups appear to share the same origin or founder, suggesting a probable Middle Eastern origin for this mutation.

Funding for the study was provided by the Edwin and Caroline Levy Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the Thomas Hartman Foundation for Parkinson’s Research Inc. and the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to Drs. Bressman and Ozelius, authors on the paper included: Geetha Senthil, Ph.D., Rachel Saunders-Pullman, M.D. M.P.H., Erin Ohmann,B.S., Amanda Deligtisch, M.D., Michele Tagliati, M.D., Ann L. Hunt, D.O., Christine Klein, M.D., Brian Henick, Susan M. Hailpern, M.S., M.P.H., Richard B. Lipton, M.D., Jeannie Soto-Valencia, B.A. and Neil Risch, Ph.D.


Nov 5, 2004 — Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) has been awarded two major grants that will fund an upcoming exhibit, “A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry.”

“A Perfect Fit,” which will debut in 2005, explores the factors that built the American garment industry and how the participation of successive waves of Jewish immigration shaped the industry’s growth between 1860 and 1960.

The museum received a “Museums for America” grant of $150,000 from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, a federal agency. The grant will allow YUM to mount public programs and attract new and larger audiences to the exhibit.

In addition, The Coby Foundation, a private institution focused on textile arts and history, awarded YUM a $100,000 grant to support “A Perfect Fit.”

These two gifts add to the initial $300,000 grant the Museum received in 2003 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The exhibit includes costumes, accessories, industrial equipment, photographs, artworks, archival materials, and audiovisual installations throughout the museum’s galleries illustrating the impact of the garment industry on American culture and its role in the formation of American Jewish society. American fashions from the past century will be on display.

Yeshiva University Museum is located at 15 West 16th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in the Center for Jewish History. For more information about “A Perfect Fit,” please contact 212-294-8330 or