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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.

 

Managing Team

Eileen Norris

Editor-in-Chief

Eileen (ES ‘20) is a pre-med student and double major in Biomedical Engineering and a History of Science and Medicine. Before Editor-in-Chief, Eileen worked with the magazine as Production Manager, and is still very passionate about the design aspect of publishing a magazine. Outside of YSM, Eileen spends most of her time researching regenerative medicine and lung engineering in the Niklason Lab and playing violin with the Yale Symphony Orchestra. During any extra time she has, Eileen works as captain of the Nordic Ski Team and loves being outdoors (even during the Northeast winters).

Stephanie Smelyansky

Managing Editor

Stephanie (TD ‘19) is a Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Chemistry double major from the suburbs of the Chicago. She has previously served as the president and vice president of Synapse. Besides her involvement with YSM, Steph researches proteins involved in mRNA degradation in the Slavoff lab and sings with the Yale Glee Club. In her almost non-existent free time, Stephanie can be found embroidering, taking care of her 10+ houseplants, or drinking her weight in coffee.

Diane Rafizadeh

Managing Editor

Diane (JE ‘19) is a Chemistry major from the heart of Los Angeles who wants to pursue research in medicine, at the interface of chemistry and biology. Before she became Managing Editor, she was Features Editor for the magazine, and a staff writer before that. She is currently an undergraduate researcher at the Schepartz Laboratory of Chemical Biology, where she works on techniques to visualize cell surface proteins in the EGFR family. 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.

 

Editorial Team

Will Burns

Articles Editor

William is a sophomore in Morse College and a prospective Neuroscience major. He has previously served as copy editor and a staff writer for the Yale Scientific Magazine. William studies cytoskeletal protein dynamics and molecular motors in the Forscher Lab. He also plays trombone with the Yale Concert Band, volunteers with Yale Alzheimer’s Buddies, and plays club golf.

 

Charlie Musoff

Features Editor

Charlie Musoff (DC ’20) is a Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major from the suburbs of New York City. Besides serving as Features Editor and helping to make science accessible to a broader audience, Charlie works to rectify health inequities as a Global Health Scholar, teaches workshops on healthy sexuality to New Haven high schoolers through Community Health Educators, sings with the Baker’s Dozen, and does translational HIV research on the side effects of different antiretroviral therapies. In his free time, Charlie can be found running all around New Haven, making especially inflexible attempts at yoga, or cackling at Veep. He is so excited for another great year with YSM!

 

Allie Forman

News Editor

Allie is a junior in Silliman from Ann Arbor, MI. She is majoring in Chemistry and studies proteins in the Schepartz Lab. When not science-ing, she enjoys teaching mindfulness to New Haven students, running to East Rock, listening to podcasts, and curling up with a good book.​

 

Conor Johnson

Online Editor

Conor, hailing from the Chicago suburbs, is a first-year in Davenport college and a potential neuroscience major. When he’s not editing articles for the Yale Scientific, you can find him pitching for the club baseball team or writing for the Yale Daily News. Outside of school, Conor enjoys playing basketball and reading books.

 

Jess Pevner

Special Sections Editor

Jess is a first-year in Jonathan Edwards College and hails from Villanova, Pennsylvania. While she has yet to decide on a major, her interests include medicine, healthcare, and mathematics. Prior to being Special Sections Editor, she helped organize Resonance, a STEM conference for New Haven high schoolers. She also enjoys volunteering for Science on Saturdays events to perform demonstrations. During her free time, she enjoys running and has recently gotten into spinning.

 

Sarah Adams

Special Sections Editor

Sarah Adams is a sophomore in Morse College and an Ecology & Evolutionary Biology major from north Georgia. Outside of YSM, she enjoys being outside in all capacities with Yale Outdoors, working at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, playing the mandolin in Pitnacree and the Yale Folk Music Collective, and having an excuse to share more music through WYBCx Yale Radio. She thinks yeast is magical.

 

Marcus Sak

Copy Editor

Marcus is a first-year in Trumbull College from Penang, Malaysia. He is a prospective Chemistry major, and currently works in the Miller lab on peptide-catalyzed asymmetric reactions. Outside of YSM, he helps with organizing conferences for TEDxYale, plays viola, and hikes up East and West Rocks in his free time.

 

Joshua Matthew

Copy Editor

Joshua is a junior in Branford College from North Carolina studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. He does research in the Jensen Lab at the Yale School of Medicine where he studies the role of the BRCA2 tumor suppressor in DNA repair. He enjoys playing violin and dancing with the Yale Jashan Bhangra team. He is also involved with the Chaplain’s Office as a Junior Chaplaincy Fellow, Global Grounds staffer, and a member of the Interfaith Forum at Yale. His interests include photography, modern art, and Arethusa Farm Dairy.

 

Production Team

 

Sunnie Liu

Production Manager

Sunnie Liu is a prospective double major in Art and History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health and a first-year in Morse College. Working for the YSM bridges her love for design, writing, and science. Outside of the YSM, she gives tours at the Yale Center for British Art, serves on the board of the Chinese American Students Association, and teaches mental health and science to New Haven public school students through Community Health Educators and Demos. During her free time, she can be found taking her latest art project, getting lost in a novel, trying new restaurants, or exploring museums.

Kelly Zhou

Layout Editor

Kelly Zhou is a first year in Silliman College studying Computing and the Arts. She enjoys both art and computer science, and spends most of her time doing some variation of the two. She’s also interested in social psychology, specifically on the effects of the stereotype threat. In her free time, she loves playing cello, reading, writing, filming shorts, and singing off key (on purpose, of course).

Ivory Fu

Art Editor

Ivory Fu is a first-year in Pauli Murray College from New York City. She is double majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Art. She currently works at the Yale University Art Gallery as a gallery guide, serves as co-social chair of the Chinese American Students Association, designs for a variety of publications, and is starting behavioral research at the School of Medicine. Her other interests include snakes, painting, hip hop dancing, and warm matcha lattes.

 

Eric Wang

Photography Editor

Eric Wang is a first-year in Pierson College studying molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. He enjoys various activities outside of class including (but not limited to) clarinet playing, research, and (of course) photography. Outside of the Yale Scientific Magazine, he plays clarinet in the Yale Concert Band and the Davenport Pops Orchestra, is a staff photographer for the Yale Daily News, and is training to become an EMT. In the future, he hopes to have a career in scientific research focusing on diseases. In his free time, he enjoys watching the Try Guys on YouTube and reading the news.

Alice Wu

Webmaster

Alice is a first-year in Saybrook College from Long Island, New York. She is a prospective Computing and the Arts major, because of her interests in tech and design. Before she was webmaster, Alice acted as one of the Directors of Operations for the Resonance Conference hosted by Synapse. In her free time, she likes going on long runs to East Rock and discovering cool quiet spots near campus. Aside from YSM, Alice is the design director for YHack, on the Spring Fling Committee, and co-curates for the Yale Photography Society’s annual fall exhibition.

 

Business Team

Kevin Chang

Publisher

Kevin Chang is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards studying Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Computer Science. In addition to working with the Yale Scientific Magazine, he enjoys playing the bells of Harkness Tower as a member of the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs. Kevin low-key plans to pursue a career in World Domination. At the moment, he is trying to keep it a secret though. Hopefully, no one catches on… If you befriend him now, he might just spare you when he becomes King of the World. Until then, he enjoys playing with stuffed animals, chasing chipmunks, and sleeping in his free time.

 

Jiyoung Kang

Operations Manager

Jiyoung is a first year in Benjamin Franklin College and a prospect Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major. She has previously written articles for YSM and served as Director of Development for Resonance, an annual science conference for high school students. Outside of YSM, she is Social Chair of Korean American Students at Yale, and is involved with Danceworks and United Church of Westville. She likes to read, travel, watch movies, and eat dark chocolate.

 

Allie Olson

Advertising Manager

Allie is a first year in Timothy Dwight College and is a prospective Cognitive Science major. In her free time she enjoys playing guitar, debating philosophical questions at 2AM, and working in the TD buttery. She first became involved with the Yale Scientific through Resonance, working with YSM to bring in faculty and graduate student speakers for the conference, and is excited be more deeply involved with the Yale Scientific.

Tanvi Mehta

Subscriptions Manager

Tanvi is a first-year in Berkeley College from Columbia, SC. She is interested in the intersections between population health, sociology, and political science. She plans to apply to the Global Health Scholars Program and work in the public and global health sectors. Outside of YSM, she dances on Yale’s Bollywood team – Rangeela, is a counselor for Camp Kesem, and is in Pi Beta Phi. Outside of class she loves to spend time with her friends, go to sporting events, and pursue her passion for photography!

 

Synapse Team

 

Jessica Trinh

President

Jessica is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in neuroscience. She enjoys writing for Yale Scientific and is passionate about giving back to the New Haven community through science outreach initiatives, such as Science on Saturdays and Resonance. Outside of Synapse, Jessica is a middle school Community Health Educator, a nutrition counselor at HAVEN Free Clinic, and a residential college aide for Branford. In her free time she can be found baking, watching the Great British Baking Show, or collecting bananas from the dining hall.

Nasser Odetallah

Vice President

Nasser is a sophomore is Branford College majoring in Chemistry and Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry. Outside of classes, Nasser is a percussionist in the Yale Concert Band and a peer tutor for the introductory chemistry courses. In his free time, Nasser enjoys napping, watching Netflix, and looking for adorable dogs that walk through Old Campus and Cross Campus in the warmer days.

Seth Anderson

Outreach Coordinator

Seth is a sophomore in Branford College from Pittsburgh, PA majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is interested in gut-brain neurophysiology and does research in the De Lartigue lab where he focuses on vagal gut-brain signaling as a treatment for obesity. Aside from the YSM, Seth also is involved undergraduate admissions as a science tour guide and student ambassador, a peer tutor, and a volunteer at the HAVEN free clinic. In his free time he enjoys keeping bees with Yale BeeSpace and religiously watching food videos on Facebook.

Lisa Wu

Outreach Coordinator

Lisa is from St. Louis, Missouri, but she previously lived in New Hampshire for five years and is relieved to be back on the east coast. When she’s not working and writing for the Yale Scientific, Lisa teaches science classes to local elementary school students via Demos, tries to make sense of organic chemistry, and takes long walks around science hill. She’s looking forward to staying in New Haven this summer to volunteer at a local clinic and to continue conducting immunology research. She’s excited to be on the Synapse team, and she hopes that Yale and greater New Haven community will find the Yale Scientific’s upcoming events fun and engaging.

Leslie Sim

Social Media Coordinator

Leslie is a first-year in Jonathan Edwards College who enjoys finding the beauty in intersections between science and our everyday lives. In addition to writing for Yale Scientific, she loves crafting in YaleMakes, making unique food creations in Yale dining halls, and feeling the adrenaline behind a fencing mask. She is excited to share Yale Scientific Magazine with a wider audience through social media!

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