Ninety-five prospective STEM majors flocked to Yale last weekend, and dozens more visited from Monday to Wednesday to experience all the University has to offer.

Each year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions invites about 100 STEM likely letter recipients to campus for Yale Engineering and Science Weekend, which features panels on research opportunities and fosters interactions with faculty members from various STEM fields. And during Bulldog Days, which directly followed YES Weekend, Associate Dean for Science Education Sandy Chang hosted a series of talks and panels in which current undergraduates shared their research experiences with admitted students.

“We really hope to yield STEM students through these events — STEM students are the hardest group to yield,” Chang said. “We’re very happy that we’re now on the echelon of premier science institutions like MIT and Stanford, and I just hope that these students will come.”

This year’s YES Weekend included a special collections tour of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, a “Nobel Tea” with cell biology professor and recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine James Rothman ’71 and an alumni panel on science and engineering.

On Sunday night, prospective students returned to the Peabody for a “Dinner with the Dinosaurs.” Joined by professors in the museum’s Great Hall of Dinosaurs, the students were matched with faculty members and other YES Weekend students with similar interests.

Following dinner, the attendees participated in the annual YES Weekend scavenger hunt, in which they completed puzzles and activities that highlighted important discoveries, locations and traditions at Yale. The hunt ended at the Leitner Observatory and Planetarium, where the 14 teams went stargazing with Chang.

Several YES Weekend students said the scavenger hunt was their favorite part of the weekend. Ashley Pennington, a member of Team Silliman — the first to arrive at the Leitner — said she enjoyed wandering around campus doing STEM-related activities like solving puzzles or using computer science to solve a problem.

Amber Patrick, another YES Weekend attendee, added that she also enjoyed the opportunity to speak with professors throughout the weekend, including at the “Dinner with the Dinosaurs.”

“Having everyone talk to us — from the dean of the college to the directors of undergraduate studies — and learning about everything in the sciences that Yale has to offer has certainly made my college decision harder,” she said.

Most of the YES Weekend students remained at Yale for Bulldog Days, many of whom were able to attend the STARS II Research Symposium on Monday afternoon. The annual symposium — which allows seniors in the intensive research program for historically underrepresented students in science to present their final research projects — has not traditionally coincided with Bulldog Days, but the shift this year now enables prospective students to learn more about research conducted by current undergraduates, Chang said.

The symposium kicked off with opening remarks by Chang, who spoke about the myriad opportunities to do research at Yale.

“Undergraduate research is an integral part of Yale education,” he said. “It’s not something that’s just tacked on.”

Chang highlighted the University’s commitment to STEM education, noting that Yale provided almost $1 million in research fellowship funding for undergraduates this past academic year, including $600,000 for first years alone.

Following a poster session, in which about 10 STARS juniors shared their research projects, five STARS II seniors presented their research projects, speaking about areas ranging from star formation to proteins involved in HIV to hormone signaling.

Shannon Teaw ’19, one of the poster presenters, said that having the symposium during Bulldog Days allowed incoming Yalies to get a taste of what studying science would be like at Yale.

“The STARS program in particular provides a lot of mentorship and guidance for research and allows undergraduates to get their feet wet in research,” she added.

Finally, Tuesday offered an opportunity for Bulldog Days attendees to hear from current students about their experiences in research and STEM at Yale. Five students spoke on the panel, representing the Departments of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Physics; and Mathematics.

About 50 percent of YES Weekend attendees ultimately committed to Yale last year, according to Chang.

Amy Xiong |