Officially launched in October 2019 after two years of construction, the Yale Science Building represented a move towards greater commitment to STEM by Yale’s administration. After a university-wide STEM report and complaints from students and faculty alike, there has been a move towards greater investment in the STEM departments over the last few years.
The Yale Science Building currently houses several departments, including the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB), Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MB&B) and Physics departments, as well as other laboratories such as the Quantitative Biology Institute.
“In a hundred years, when people look back to this moment, they will see that this is when we put a stake in the ground, and identified — reaffirmed — our aspirations in scientific research and education at Yale,” said University President Peter Salovey at the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
According to Yale’s 2018–19 financial report, there was a 21.8 percent increase in spending relative to the previous fiscal year, and some of these funds went toward building the Yale Science Building. Despite Yale’s strengths in the humanities and social sciences, the University is often outranked by other research institutions when it comes to STEM. President Salovey affirms that the new building is part of a long-term “ambitious investment” in Yale’s STEM research and education.
Faculty also looked forward to moving into new facilities with updated technologies. Simon Mochrie, Director of Undergraduate Studies for physics, said he looked forward to “having a beautiful, spacious, vibration-free laboratory,” made possible by the fact that the building’s base lies on bedrock.
“The infrastructure for precision experiments in [Sloane Physics Laboratory] is challenging,” Mochrie said.
Kenneth Brewer GRD ’20, an MCDB researcher, said that Kline Biology Tower, which housed most of the MCDB, MB&B and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology laboratories, has a “dingy basement feel” and has little light exposure due to the narrow windows.
Before the launch of the new science building, the Yale administration was facing criticism for what students and faculty viewed as “discouraging” and “unapproachable” large introductory lectures. Courses such as ENAS 130, “Introduction to Computing for Engineers and Scientists,” were criticized for being too fast-paced for students with no prior experience in the area.
After a University-wide Science Strategy Committee report in the fall of 2018, the University outlined different ways in which it will address the current issues faced in the sciences.
“I don’t think there is anything else we are doing on this campus over the next few years that is more important than this,” Salovey said in a town hall for faculty.
Many professors have made changes to the structure of their courses in order to provide more engaging courses for students. Professors Mark Mooseker and Samantha Lin spearheaded this effort in the interdisciplinary biology sequence across the three main biology departments.
The physics department has also tried to increase student engagement by implementing study halls, according to Mochrie.
“Faculty members in STEM fields feel exactly the same way I do as to the essential importance of working directly with students,” said Ruth Koizim, co-chair of the Committee on the Yale College Expansion.
The administration has committed to increasing collaboration across different scientific disciplines on campus, including the School of Medicine. It has also indicated a move toward greater support for graduate students in the area and placed a focus on the development of the neuroscience program and research at Yale. The 2018 Science Strategy Committee report even called for a new institute to bolster interdisciplinary research in the area.
The Yale Science Building’s inauguration has shown to be a positive move overall, with faculty members generally pleased with the new facilities as compared to the much older Kline Biology Tower and Sloane Physics Laboratory.
The Yale Science Building is located at 223 Prospect St.
Beatriz Horta | firstname.lastname@example.org