Underneath the cathedral-esque nave of Sterling Memorial Library, 40 undergraduates presented their scientific research, displayed on colorful poster boards, to classmates and professors at Friday’s Yale Undergraduate Research Symposium.
The event is intended to showcase Yale’s undergraduate research from the previous summer. Each presenter worked in a Yale-affiliated lab or received a grant from the University, either through the Yale College Dean’s Office or an individual lab. For two hours, the undergraduate researchers presented their work to attendees including Associate Dean of Science and Quantitative Reasoning Education Sandy Chang, whose office helped fund the event.
“This is the culmination of undergraduate research,” Chang said. “We have so many students going to labs, and this is it; this is the product.”
The annual event comes at a moment when Yale is redoubling its efforts toward innovation in the sciences. In June, the University Science Strategy Committee released a mammoth report detailing cross-cutting investments in the sciences that will guide the next decade’s worth of fundraising campaigns.
Since becoming dean, Chang has made undergraduate research fellowships available to 90 percent of first years who apply, a far cry from his own days as an undergraduate. He told the News that when he attended Yale College, there were no funds actively set aside for undergraduate research. Today, he added, the University allocates $1 million annually to that end.
“Research is not for everyone, but for those who are bitten by the research bug, it’s the best thing you can do,” Chang said.
According to Yale College Undergraduate Admissions, 95 percent of undergraduate science majors do research while at Yale.
Many of the first-year students interested in research who attended the event left feeling invigorated.
“There’s so many opportunities to be able to find someone who knows what they’re doing,” said Kristina Delagarza ’22.
At the event, Kristen Enriquez ’21 presented a poster detailing her research on autism-risk genes in zebra fish. Enriquez was a recipient of the Yale First-Year Summer Research Fellowship in the Sciences and Engineering, an initiative introduced by Chang.
Enriquez said that her time in the lab allowed her to experience how work in the lab affects the outside world.
The event was sponsored by the Yale Undergraduate Research Association, which also compiles a research database for undergraduates wishing to learn more about Yale’s labs. Chang said he sees big potential for expanding the event.
“In the future, I want to do a Yale Undergraduate Research Day where everyone who is funded through the Yale College Dean’s Office presents a poster,” he said. “Forty is a good number, but I want 200. That’s the goal.”
John Klingler | firstname.lastname@example.org