Tag Archive: Research

  1. YURA launches Research Database

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    On Saturday, the Yale Undergraduate Research Association unveiled its Research Database, the most comprehensive, searchable directory of faculty research listings available to the Yale community to date.

    The YURA Research Database, or RDB, allows undergraduates to explore the research of over 1,400 Yale faculty members within the University. Students have the option to search for faculty mentors in the humanities, social sciences and STEM fields using department filters and a keyword search function.

    “Our goal, as an organization, is to make the process of getting involved with research as an undergraduate less imposing and more fluid,” said YURA Co-President Nishant Jain ’18, who founded the organization in January 2015 with Surya Dutta ’18 and Jingjing Xiao ’18. “It’s something that a lot of people are excited about and interested in, but they just don’t know where to begin. We wanted to serve as a springboard to facilitate people getting involved in research.”

    To publicize the new project, YURA members created a video to demonstrate the RDB’s interface and features. YURA timed the database’s launch to benefit students who want to plan ahead for summer opportunities, said Nicole Eskow ’19, who worked on the RDB project team.

    The RDB had more than 1,200 page views by the end of its first day, Dutta said. He added that the RDB is one of YURA’s largest undertakings since the organization was founded.

    According to Xiao, the idea for creating the database emerged when the YURA founders were looking for their own research opportunities as freshmen.

    “Across all the years at Yale, from freshmen to seniors, almost everyone has to undertake research either because we’re interested in it extracurricularly, or as a graduation requirement for senior theses and projects,” Xiao said. “We noticed that there wasn’t a way of finding research opportunities holistically — you had to check department by department.”

    Students interviewed noted that there is a lack of guidance when deciding how to participate in research projects. Jain called the current process “very opaque,” adding that different departments often have disparate ways of organizing information. Some faculty members showcase their work on personal webpages rather than departmental sites, Jain said.

    Xiao said that the RDB also addresses another challenge for students seeking faculty mentors: locating professors involved with interdisciplinary research. Xiao described the previous search process as time-consuming with many gaps, adding that it was easy to miss a faculty member whose work is not affiliated with an expected department.

    “Many faculty members are interested in being research mentors to undergraduates,” said Yale College Dean of Science Education Carl Hashimoto, who is one of YURA’s faculty advisers. “So if they knew that students were using the YURA research database in their search for potential research advisors, they may be more motivated to keep their website research information up-to-date in order to pique the interest of students.”

    In order to address these issues, YURA assembled a project team in order to build a more user-friendly, comprehensive database. Led by Peter Wang ’18, the group began discussing in January how to implement its project. The team spent the rest of the spring semester and summer compiling faculty information from departmental websites and coding the website, Wang said.

    In addition to soliciting student advice throughout the development process, Wang said, YURA consulted with many Yale administrators — including the director of undergraduate studies for every department — to create a database that best fit the needs of the Yale community.

    Xiao added that in building the database, YURA hoped to take advantage of Yale’s strength in the liberal arts and emphasize research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as STEM.

    “There’s nothing in the definition of the word ‘research’ that says it’s a STEM-only term or experience,” Wang said. “People in academia in every single field — humanities, social sciences, arts and STEM — do research of some kind, so we really wanted to make sure the database is useful for all Yale College students.”

    While the RDB is primarily geared toward undergraduate students, the resource is accessible to anyone with a Yale NetID. Steven Girvin, the deputy provost for research, noted that the RDB is also valuable for faculty members who want to find opportunities for collaboration.

    According to Wang, YURA confirmed listed information with every professor in the database in the weeks leading up to RDB’s release. The team also conducted beta testing among student users, he added.

    “My first impression of the database was that it looked really clean and inviting,” said Hieronimus Loho ’18, a psychology major and one of the beta testers. “The interface was very well-designed, and navigating the website seemed really intuitive.”

    Emon Datta ’18, a computer science major, said she especially appreciated that RDB users can sort information by keyword, outside of the standard department and name search functions. In addition to searching for research opportunities, Datta said that she hopes to use the RDB to connect with professors who can provide support for her extracurricular activities.

    The Yale Undergraduate Research Association’s next major initiative is organizing the University’s first intercollegiate research conference for undergraduates, to be held starting Feb. 11.

  2. Yalies Are . . .

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    This column was published as part of the Commencement Issue for the Class of 2015.

    For the past four years of my time at Yale, I’ve searched endlessly for a way to categorize the typical Yale student, to define what makes us tick, what we look like, how we act, who we are. Op-eds in the past have attempted, but all have failed. But now that I am on the edge of graduation, I am in a position to tell you the secret. As a 22-year-old, I know a lot about the world and also about Yale, so please take everything I say without any grains of salt. Without further ado, I present my research on what Yalies are.

    Yalies are humans. They are not dogs or carpets or hubcaps or falafel sandwiches (though I see how you could confuse them with that last one, given how often Yalies eat them from Mamoun’s at 2 a.m.). Yalies are vegan. Yalies are gluten-free. Yalies love meat and pasta but like to complain about Yale Dining. Yalies will fight to the death about what the best pizza in New Haven is. Yalies like Pabst Blue Ribbon, because Yalies are hipsters. Yalies like Natural — “Natty” — Light, because Yalies are also frat bros. Yalies also like drinking beer that doesn’t taste like piss. Yalies often drink water. And coffee.

    Yalies work in consulting. They also don’t work in consulting. Yalies are not above dressing up in a jacket and tie and getting wasted because it’s an open bar and, hey, those are fun, right? They kept bringing out bottles of wine, what was I supposed to do? Yalies still don’t quite know how to talk about the fact that they are Yalies to people back home. Yalies slyly answer, “Oh, out in Connecticut” when asked where they go to school. Yalies say “Yale” when asked where they go to school. Yalies go to Yale. They do not go to Harvard or Princeton or the University of Michigan or ITT Tech. That’s where the term “Yalie” comes from. Yalies are privileged.

    Yalies are assholes. Yalies are compassionate. Yalies are sympathetic, because they don’t know what the hell you’re going through. Yalies are empathetic, because they’ve been there, too. Yalies are apathetic, because, whatever. Yalies are concerned about the future of the world, the future of Yale, what can be done to fix the injustice of it all, the fact that people are hurt every day when they don’t need to be. Yalies are anxious, so they create artificial structures that separate haves from have-nots, taps from not-taps, to fulfill the sense of exclusivity that the word “secret” can grant, even when things aren’t secret at all. Yalies are in secret societies with 14 other people. Yalies are also in secret societies with themselves.

    Yalies are kind. Yalies are thoughtful. Yalies are idiots. Sometimes Yalies don’t know how they’re coming across, and they didn’t mean to say what they said that hurt you so much, but they can’t take it back and now what do they do. Yalies are inconsiderate, and sometimes they’ll spend the night with you, be so close that you almost become one and then won’t look you in the eye the next day, carrying on as if nothing happened. Yalies like girls, Yalies like boys, Yalies like both, and they’re just so tired of labels, man, why does everything have to have a label, man? Yalies are tired of empty, mechanical hookups. Yalies want something more. They don’t know how, though. Yalies are afraid.

    Yalies are confident. Yalies are young. Yalies are filled with a sense of false security. Yalies are not statistics, man. They are also not spray paint or Wenzels or straw hats or the second season of “American Idol” or the Magna Carta or without purpose.

    That is the extent of my research (I think I nailed this one, you guys). Please direct any questions to the comments section, but do know that I am totally right about all this. I am getting published, after all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get a diploma and a falafel sandwich.

  3. Yale researcher tells of coming supercontinent

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    A group of Yale researchers have put forth a new theory that the Earth’s continents are set to collide over the North Pole in just a few hundred million years, according to a report in the journal “Nature.”

    Yale geologist Ross Mitchell GRD ’13 and his team based are claiming that the next supercontinent, Amasia, will form at the North Pole, 90 degrees away from Africa. It will form when North and South America merge, drifting northward and eventually colliding with Europe and Asia at the North Pole. Australia, too, would drift northward and rest somewhere between India and Japan.

    Mitchell is basing his claims on the knowledge that previous supercontinents — large landmasses comprising several continents — formed roughly 90 degrees away from their predecessors. Mitchell told the National Public Radio last week that Pangaea, a supercontinent that formed 300 million years ago, was located at Africa’s current location, and formed 90 degrees away from Rodinia, its predecessor.

    “Because we kind of now have a firm grasp on what and how supercontinents might take form, it is kind of warranted to take at least a fun, speculative look at what the future supercontinent Amasia would look like,” Mitchell told NPR.

    The collision is coming in 50 to 200 million years.