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About YSM

The Yale Scientific Magazine, established in 1894, is the nation’s oldest college science publication and the premier science publication at Yale.

Our Mission

The Yale Scientific Magazine remains committed to the ideals of scientific journalism: to serve the Yale community by presenting the scientific, medical, and engineering activities at the University in an honest and unbiased manner.

Our History

Most modern scientists agree that life originated only once. The unique blend of chemicals and energy sources that formed the “hot thin soup” of a younger Earth was the key to the origin and development of life. These conditions have not since been repeated. Similarly, the unique blend of ingenuity, ambition, and intelligence, combined with the infatigable energy that has characterized Yale’s student bodies for nearly three centuries have been the sole birthplace for all types of college publications. With the nation’s oldest college literary magazine, humor magazine, yearbook, daily newspaper, and science magazine, Yale students have been leaders in the founding and production of college publications.

Today, there are about thirty different student publications at Yale, dealing with everything from philosophy to campus news to international affairs. This abundance was not always the case at Yale. In fact, Yale College’s first century passed without seeing any undergraduate publications. The silence was broken on November 15, 1806, when undergraduates created The Literary Cabinet, an eight-page biweekly, to raise money to assist self-supporting students. It lasted only until October 1807. The next attempt was in 1814, with the formation of The Athenæum. This publication lasted only six months, but apparently served as an inspiration for other adventurous students to create their own publications, and many magazines were begun in the ensuing years. Next came The Microscope, and then The Sitting Room, both of which had a very heavy literary tone.

Sensing a need for a forum for humor, satire, and criticism, a group of students put together The Yale Crayon in 1823. The Crayon was neither taken seriously nor found funny. Unappreciated, it did not last long. It was, though, the forerunner of The Record, founded in 1872, and thereafter considered a legitimate forum for criticism through satire by students and professors alike. The Record is still in print at Yale today. Some of the other publications to come out of Yale in the mid-nineteenth century were The Little Gentlemen, The Gridiron, and The Medley.

In February of 1836, campus literary and scholarly heavyweights organized the Yale Literary Magazine, which has stood the test of time. It is still in print today, Yale’s oldest continuous publication. In 1842, Yale students also created the nation’s first college yearbook, and in January 1878, the first college daily. The Yale Banner and Yale Daily News are still eagerly read today. Not until 1894, however, was there a student magazine devoted to the sciences when the senior class of Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School (or the “Sheff”) first published the Yale Scientific Monthly in October of 1894. [The Cornell Engineer was begun in the 1890’s, but had a specific focus on engineering. YSM was restricted only to “contributions of a scientific nature.”]

The Early Years: YSM through 1912

The Monthly was founded in response to “the rapid growth of the Scientific School, and the important position it was attaining in the affairs of the University” which, according to a YSM writer in 1901 “naturally suggested to Sheff men interested in literary work . . . that the establishment of a representative undergraduate periodical in the institution would be consistent with the progress along other lines.” One of its main purposes was to be a comfortable medium in which Sheff students could develop their writing skills, something many Sheff graduates had complained to not have done in their undergraduate years. Senior members of Sheffield 1895 sough the advice of literary instructors, and certain Sheff faculty, and subsequently formed YSM.

The Scientific Monthly was a unique publication, especially for its diverse range of subjects within the sciences. Its first four articles were: “The Sheffield Scientific School,” a history; “Diameters of Stepped Pulleys”; “Something About Bacteria”, and “Some Landmarks in the Life of Chemistry.” The magazine’s policy was to publish both student and faculty articles. Yale undergraduates performed all editorial and managerial work. The cost of the first issue was $0.30, and a year’s subscription was $2.50. The magazine’s stated address was simply: “Yale Scientific Monthly, New Haven, Conn.”

For 18 years, the Monthly was an opportunity for young scientists at the Sheffield Scientific School to act as journalists. In the process they kept the rest of the Yale community informed about important and interesting developments in all scientific departments at Yale, and in the general scientific community. It was of a high quality, and served as a model for the development of college science magazines at other institutions. As a serious scientific journal, YSM’s success was marginalized. Yale College students were seldom to read scientific works to relax. Sheff men needed escapes from and not supplements to their science-packed schedules. Nonetheless, it continued to rise in the estimation of Sheff students.

The staff consisted of members of the Sheff who had “heeled” the magazine. “Heeling” was one of Old Blue’s [Yale’s] many traditions that have long since vanished from practice into lore. Common among many organizations, heeling competitions were held periodically as a means of determining staff members. Heelers were told to purchase a Yale Co-op Heeler’s Notebook, and rent or buy a bicycle for the competition. They were then assigned tasks in every aspect of the magazine’s operation, and were graded on a point system. The point total and general quality of the heeler’s work were the criteria used in judging him as a perspective member. If a member won several heeling competitions, he would be entitled to a “charm.” Board membership was granted upon the attainment of a charm, which was also awarded to select students who consistently contributed quality works to YSM.

The Troubled Years: 1918-1926

The editorial board of the nineteenth volume of the Monthly took an unexpected step by beginning to record the affairs of Sheff students, sports, and societies, as well as printing lengthy student editorials. This move was disastrous. While the publication remained of interest to its writers and readers within the Sheff, its contents were fluff to everyone else. The Board of the twentieth volume changed the name to Yale Sheffield Monthly, solidifying the magazine’s altered focus. The arrogance and self-interest of the staff was clearly reflected in the contents of the magazine over the next few years. It all came to a self-defeating end, however, when the Monthly shut down after its twenty-fourth volume in 1918, due to lack of support from the student body. On its demise, a writer for the Yale Daily News wrote that “the purpose and scope of [the Sheffield Monthly was never fully understood” and its “quality was never what it should have been.” The editors of the Monthly realized their error in documenting collegiate opinions and social activities in a publication intended for scientific writing. They aligned their stated editorial focus with the material they printed and joined forces with the beleaguered Yale Courant, the school’s first illustrated periodical (1865). By February of 1919, the Yale Graphic was being published from the basement of Sheffield’s Byers Hall by former staff of the Sheffield Monthly and of the Courant. In its first issue, Chairman L. Staples explained: “With this issue, the Yale Sheffield Monthly and The Yale Courant erstwhile rivals, unite to publish The Graphic a fortnightly magazine which, we trust, will adequately fill the obvious place in the undergraduate world for an illustrated that will portray campus life as the camera records it.”

The Graphic was well-received at first, but within a few years it became clear that there was no variety to be found in subject matter, though the names of the students were changing. In addition, the quality and quantity of the literary works gradually decreased. Within five years of the publication’s beginning, it had become defunct. The name change proved an insufficient guise for the continued low quality of the content. No trace of the original Scientific Monthly was seen for three years.

In 1926, the Sheff senior class decided to revive the magazine in the manner in which it was originally intended, as a magazine devoted to the sciences at Yale. In 1927, this plan became a reality with the first issue of The Yale Scientific Magazine. In the first pages of the issue, there is a statement from the editors describing the magazine, and its new role at Yale: “The Yale Scientific Magazine, while published in the interest of science and engineering within the Sheffield Scientific School, will include accounts of the scientific accomplishments of Yale graduates. It will not cast its hat into the ring of campus controversies unless they shall lead to significant steps in the development of the school.”

The magazine was received surprisingly well, and 75% of graduate and Sheff students had subscribed by the time the first issue was printed, with a circulation of 1,900 magazines. Yale President James Rowland Angell commented that “The Yale Scientific Magazine is an admirable achievement which reflects great credit on the Sheffield Scientific School, and especially on the Board of Editors.” Sheff Dean Charles H. Warren expressed confidence that YSM would “serve as a medium through which the scientific work which is being done in the various departments of the University will be brought to the attention of a larger audience, receive a wider recognition, and awaken a greater interest in this important field of Yale’s intellectual life.

The YSM Legacy Continues: 1928 until Now

Since 1927, the magazine has stayed continuously in print, with few major changes in format. [The The was eliminated from the title in 1952.] The content of the magazine, however, has changed a good deal. From 1927 until the mid 1960’s, the majority of the feature articles were solicited from Yale faculty members rather than students. Many articles were also written by the chief executives of large-scale technical and engineering companies. There were also articles written by presidents of Yale, deans of the college and the Sheff, military officers, and political figures, such as the U.S. Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health. Yale Students ran all of the editorial and managerial affairs of the magazine and wrote news briefs and editorials.

This gradually changed, and by the later 1960’s, students were writing all the articles and still running the other operations. The focus of the article has varied with the times, and with Yale’s development in the sciences. The late 1920’s and the 1930’s concentrated on applied physics and engineering. The following decade was dominated by war-related sciences. The 1950’s saw a revival of the applied physical sciences, culminating in the feverish space race. The 1950’s also served as a prelude to the burst of biological studies in the 1960’s, fueled by Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine, the elucidation of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick, and other emerging techniques. In the late 1960’s and early to mid-1970’s, YSM concentrated on sciences related to the Vietnam War and in other heated social issues. This pathway culminated with the exploratory microanalytical studies in the natural sciences encountered in the last decade or so.

Today, Yale Scientific Magazine strives to narrow the gulf between the sciences and humanities at Yale. It is a forum for scientists to develop the art of written communications, and for nonscientists to get a taste of the fascinating research found at this University. More importantly, the magazine hopes to unite the various science departments in a common knowledge of each other, as well as to depolarize the undergraduates who are often obsessed with or aloof from the sciences. Either extreme is antithetical to a liberal arts education.

 

Editorial Staff

Chunyang Ding

Editor-in-Chief

Chunyang Ding is a sophomore in Saybrook College studying physics. He is passionate about clear scientific communication, and delights in understanding new concepts with friends. Chunyang works as a host at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium, serves as Yale’s Head Delegate to the Ivy Council and is a member of Yale Students for Christ. He researches with Tanglab and dreams of quantum computers in the future. You can find him exploring hidden corners around Yale, at the Peabody museum, or simply contemplating what a sunny, punny Chunny should be.

Emma Healy

Managing Editor

Emma is a junior in Ezra Stiles College, majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She’s been working with the Yale Scientific Magazine since her freshman year—first as a staff writer and artist, and then as a features editor. She is also the Artistic Director for Yale Children’s Theater and enjoys participating in theater on campus. Emma hopes to pursue medicine and has worked for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit at Yale and at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In her free time, she enjoys painting and hiking. In fact, she hiked over 1,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail this past summer.

Sonia Wang

Managing Editor

Sonia is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College and a Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Economics major from the warm land of California. Outside of YSM, she also plays the Harkness Tower bells with the Guild of Carillonneurs and works with the Public Health Coalition. She loves writing (anything at all), reading, watching animated movies to relive her childhood, taking candid photos, and playing piano. In previous years, she was News Editor and Advertising Manager for the magazine.

Andrea Ouyang

Articles Editor

Andrea is a sophomore in Davenport College from San Ramon, California, planning to major in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She has been involved with the Yale Scientific since freshman fall, and in addition to getting extremely excited about anything related to science journalism, she also loves working with the photography and layout branches of the magazine. Outside of YSM, Andrea is involved with No Closed Doors, a student-run case-management agency for New Haven residents, and Undergraduate Women in Science at Yale. In her free time, she loves pouring over the Harry Potter series, watching the TV show “Sherlock,” and coming up with questionable cookie recipes. If you write for her, she will bake you free questionable cookies.

 

Diane Rafizadeh

Features Editor

Diane is a Chemistry major in Jonathan Edwards ’19. Before she was an editor, she was a staff writer for the magazine. She is currently an undergraduate researcher at the Schepartz Laboratory of Chemical Biology, where she studies protein dynamics and visualization at the interface of chemistry and biology. When she doesn’t have her nose in a textbook, she can be found playing the piano, doing some leisure writing, or missing her beloved cat, who resides in sunny California.

Christine Xu

News Editor

Christine is a junior in Saybrook majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She is particularly interested in developmental biology and regenerative medicine, and she does research on brain development at the Yale School of Medicine. Besides science, she also loves music and likes to spend her time playing classical piano or singing with her a cappella group, Pitches and Tones. Her other passions include running, reading, crochet, and cats. Fun fact: her Hogwarts house is Gryffindor, and her Patronus is a Nebelung cat.

 

Kevin Biju

Online Editor

Kevin is a sophomore in Morse College and a Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry major. Through YSM, he hopes to continue his lifelong goal to make STEM education both exciting and accessible to all. In addition to YSM, he is involved with the Yale Volunteer Income Tax Association and the Yale Undergraduate Research Association. He also enjoys volunteering in the Social Services department of HAVEN Free Clinic. In his free time, Kevin can be found playing guitar, reading books on behavioral economics, or showing off his yo-yo skills.

William Burns

Copy Editor

William is a freshman in Morse College and a prospective Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics major from Rochester NY. Outside of YSM, William is an assistant editor for the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law, a volunteer for Yale’s section of the National Alzheimer’s Buddies organization, and a trombonist in the Yale Concert Band. He also enjoys the outdoors, hot chocolate, and oxygen. William has previously served as Staff Writer, Outreach Volunteer, and teacher for the annual high school Resonance Conference.

Amy Xiong

Copy Editor

Amy is a freshman in Branford College from New York, NY. She hopes to major in economics and chemistry and is interested in exploring the intersection of medicine and economics. Outside of YSM, Amy reports for the Yale Daily News SciTech section and is also involved in the Yale Journal of Medicine & Law and Moneythink. She is interested in pursuing a career in medicine or health policy. In her free time, she likes to play golf and (hopelessly) cheer on the Brooklyn Nets.

 

Cheryl Mai

Special Sections Editor

Cheryl is a sophomore in Davenport College and a prospective Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry major. She was previously Copy Editor and Advertisement Manager for the magazine. She’s interested in immunology and is currently doing research on sleep. She also enjoys designing for the Yale Globalist and tutoring at St. Thomas More with the Alpha Achievement Program. In her free time, Cheryl can be found at the art gallery, biking, or taking a nap.

 

Production Staff

Eileen Norris

Production Manager

Eileen is a prospective Biomedical Engineering major and a freshman in Ezra Stiles. Before she was production manager, Eileen helped with Resonance, a science conference for New Haven students. Outside of writing and laying out for the YSM, Eileen spends most of her time playing the violin in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, or doing research at The Anlyan Center. She currently works in the Kavathas Lab and will soon start making MHC tetramers for detecting specific T cell responses. During her free time, Eileen enjoys drawing and enjoying the outdoors (even during the Northeast winters).

Richard Hwang

Layout Editor

Richard is a freshman in Berkeley College prospectively majoring in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Global Affairs.  Before serving as Layout Editor, Richard previously served as a Co-Director of Curriculum for the Resonance Conference hosted by YSM.  Asides from YSM, Richard is an Undergraduate Student Coordinator at the Asian-American Cultural Center and a member of Yale Jashan Bhangra.  He enjoys being happy.

Catherine Yang

Art Editor

Catherine is a sophomore in Trumbull College from Rochester, Minnesota. She is majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental biology and currently works at the Yale Stem Cell Center. Outside of her scientific interests, her extracurricular passions include graphic design, illustration, and writing. She is co-president of the Chinese American Students Association, a YDN Illustrator and Opinion Staff Columnist, and a section head of the Yale Banner. Her not-so-secret, not-so-maniacal plan is to contribute at least once to each Yale publication before graduating.

Natasha Zaliznyak

Photography Editor

Natasha is a sophomore in Calhoun College and is most likely majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. In addition to working on YSM, she is a science tour guide, a peer tutor, and a student researcher in a neurobiology lab at the Yale School of Medicine. Her interests outside of YSM include painting, photography, traveling, cooking, and drinking excessive amounts of coffee.

Charlie Musoff

Outreach Designer

Charlie is a freshman in Davenport College and a prospective MCDB major. Besides helping YSM to make science accessible to a broader audience, Charlie enjoys teaching sex ed to New Haven high schoolers through Community Health Educators, singing in the Baker’s Dozen, and training for a marathon with Yale Club Running. In his free time, Charlie can be found struggling through Monday crosswords, screaming along to High School Musical karaoke, or consuming copious amounts of hummus.

Cynthia Yue

Webmaster

From Carmel, IN, Cynthia is a prospective Psychology and Applied Mathematics double major in Jonathan Edwards ’20. She views STEM as a means to break down barriers to the unknown and push beyond current limitations to explore the next frontiers, developing a better understanding of the world. In addition to YSM, Cynthia is involved in the Leadership Education and Development program as well as the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars I Program. Outside of libraries and coffee shops, she can be found playing the piano or taking leisurely walks around campus.

 

Business Staff

Dawn Chen

Publisher

Dawn Chen is a sophomore in Pierson College, double majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Applied Mathematics. She is the treasurer of the Malaysian and Singaporean Association and also serves as peer tutorer, tax preparer, and sustainability team member. Dawn currently researches with the Breaker lab.

Kevin Chang

Operations Manager

Kevin Chang is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards and Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry major. In addition to working with the Yale Scientific, he is learning how to play the bells of Harkness Tower as a member of the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs. Kevin plans to pursue a career in World Domination. At the moment, he is trying to keep it a secret and hopes no one catches on. If you befriend him, he might just spare you when he becomes King of the World. Until then, he enjoys playing with chipmunks and sleeping in his free time.

 

Kendrick Umstattd

Advertising Manager

Kendrick is a sophomore in Berkeley College from Leesburg, Virginia. She is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with an interest in artificial intelligence. In addition to writing for Yale Scientific and teaching students about Alan Turing and Joan Clarke’s work with Bletchley Park codebreakers at YSM’s Resonance Conference for high school students, she is a research assistant at Yale’s Social Robotics Lab and a member of Yale’s Society of Women Engineers. When she isn’t on campus, kayaking, or traveling to San Francisco, Paris, or Iceland, Kendrick enjoys encouraging young girls to pursue an education in STEM.

Bryan Ho

Subscriptions Manager

Bryan is a junior in Branford College majoring in chemistry. In addition to his role as subscriptions manager, Bryan also serves as treasurer of the Yale Sight Savers program and helps coordinate free vision screenings around New Haven. He also enjoys learning about the history of the English language by studying German, Old English, and Old Norse. In his free time Bryan can be found either playing League of Legends with friends or playing piano, where he regularly accompanies his sister in her flute performances.

Krisstel Gomez

Subscriptions Manager

Krisstel Gomez is a senior double majoring in Economics as well as Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Apart from being YSM’s Alumni Outreach coordinator, she also volunteers with HAVEN Free Clinic, interviews YNHH patients for the Living History Project, and runs the front desk of Payne of Whitney Gym. She is currently working in Paul Turners evolutionary biology lab to manipulate bacterial antibiotic resistance through bacteriophage attack. When she’s not working on problem sets, she is most probably filtering a future insta post, running off some Arethusa calories on the treadmill, or listening to podcasts

 

Outreach and Events Staff

 

Stephanie Smelyansky

Synapse President

 

 

Jessica Trinh

Synapse Vice President

Jessica is a freshman in Branford College and a prospective Biomedical Engineering major. She enjoys writing for YSM and The Scope, Yale Scientific’s blog. She is passionate about community service and, having helped with Resonance and Science on Saturdays, is excited to bring more science initiatives to local area middle and high school students. Jessica is working in an epilepsy lab studying pediatric seizure clusters as well as a nanoparticle lab studying potential targets for brain tumors. In her free time, she can be found baking, scouring food blogs, or collecting bananas from the dining halls.

 

Wai Pan Wong

Outreach Coordinator

 

Archeta Rajagopalan

Social Media Coordinator

Archie is a sophomore in Branford and an MCDB major/pre-med. On campus, she is co-captain of her dance team Rangeela, a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, Publicity Chair for the South Asian Society Board, and works as a Student Organization Consultant in the Dean’s Office. She has written for YSM for two years, and can’t wait to get started as the Social Media Coordinator for the magazine!

Yale Scientific Magazine Advisory Board

Kurt Zilm, Chair
Chemistry

Priyamvada Natarajan
Astronomy

Scott Strobel
Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics

Robert Bazell
Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology

Fred Volkmar
Child Study Center

Stanley Eisenstat
Computer Science

James Duncan
Biomedical Engineering

Steven Stearns
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Jakub Szefer
Electrical Engineering

Werner Wolf
Emeritus

John Wettlaufer
Geology & Geophysics, Mathematics & Physics

William Summers
History of Science & History of Medicine

Ayaska Fernando
Undergraduate Admissions

Ivan Galea
Yale Science & Engineering Association