Amaris Hester

Roughly 30 students presented their research to members of the Yale community during the fifth annual Yale Undergraduate Research Symposium on Friday.

The event, held in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library, was organized by the Yale Undergraduate Research Association. The symposium highlighted student research that was mostly conducted over the summer, according to co-president Mehdi Baqri ’21. The association awarded top prizes to Tiger Zhang ’20 and Formosa Deppman ’21 for their projects.

About 15 judges — including a number of postdoctoral students and other academics — evaluated the presenters. The participants were judged on their comprehension of the research, presentation skills and their passion for the topic, according to Anna-Sophia Boguraev ’20, who is a co-president of the Yale Undergraduate Research Association.

“…I feel like you see yourself a lot in the processes,” said John Gonzales GRD ’24, who is a fellow judge and a second-year doctoral candidate in experimental pathology.

Carolyn Allain GRD’23, who judged at the symposium, said she was “looking for people who seem excited about their work and seem excited about their contribution.”

Zhang took home the first-place prize in the hard science and medicine category, followed by Mitchell Ostrow ’21 in second place. Deppman won the humanities and social sciences award, with Lukas Fesser ’21 as the runner-up.

Students presented projects on topics that ranged from Korean literature to the evolution of birds in South America. Some researchers said they tried to dive deeper into topics of personal interest, like Adnan Askari ’22, who has “always been … interested in the immune system.” For his part, Fesser said conducting research and presenting it to the public would help him prepare for a potential enrollment in a doctoral program.

According to Baqri, the goal of the symposium was to emphasize interdisciplinary learning and communicate research to the broader Yale community. In an interview, he highlighted the association’s other initiatives, such as an undergraduate mentorship program and another conference that encourages members of historically underprivileged communities to participate in research.

Kevin Zhong ’23, who attended the symposium, told the News that the event was “a good opportunity” to learn more about research at Yale.

Yale College Associate Dean for Science and Quantitative Reasoning Education Sandy Chang ’88 said he has big ideas for future symposia.

“We’re going to make this huge,” he said. “Everyone that’s funded through the Yale College Dean’s Office will … present a poster.”

According to the Yale Undergraduate Research Association’s website, it aims to “[connect] disciplines, resources and individuals to promote undergraduate research.”

Amaris Hester |