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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

Lionel Jin

Editor-in-Chief

Lionel is a sophomore double majoring in Molecular Biology and Computer Science. He takes joy in helping others discover their passion for the sciences and he hopes to harness his own passion for the sciences to brighten the lives of people around him. Lionel is Treasurer of the Yale Leadership Institute and Venture Creation Liaison at the Yale Entrepreneurship Institute. You might well catch him playing the violin, hiking through national parks, or enjoying a sumptuous dish of Singapore Chilli [sic] Crab.

Allison Cheung

Managing Editor

Allison is a Berkeley sophomore in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology major. She is very interested in public health and works in an epidemiology lab studying leptospirosis. In addition to YSM, she is a part of Partners in Health Engage and Volunteers Around the World. Allison also accepts Teddy Graham crackers in exchange for her friendship.

Zach Gardner

Managing Editor

Born and raised in New Haven County, Zach is a junior in Ezra Stiles College double majoring in Chemistry and MCDB. He works on small molecule discovery at Yale West Campus and on clinical research in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Yale New Haven Hospital. Outside of the lab and library he can be found running, listening to folk music, and eating spicy food.

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Genevieve Sertic

Articles Editor

Genevieve is an Electrical Engineering major and Energy Studies Scholar in Pierson College ’18. She values the ability and opportunity to communicate scientific news to a general audience through YSM. Although she finds every part of science uniquely captivating, she has a special love for renewable energy and engineering. To relax, she likes to visit the nearby art galleries and museums or take a walk. In the past, she has served as a Copy Editor, Staff Writer, Outreach Volunteer, and occasionally a Photographer for YSM.

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Emma Healy

Features Editor

Emma is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College, majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology. Before she was an editor, she was a staff writer for the magazine. She currently works at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit, helping run clinical trials. She is also on the board of Yale Children’s Theater, and she enjoys acting and participating in theater on campus.

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Sonia Wang

News Editor

Sonia is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College and a prospective 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 Advertising Manager and a contributing writer for the magazine.

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Amanda Buckingham

Online Editor

A junior in Berkeley College, Amanda Buckingham is double majoring in Molecular Biology and English. She studies CRISPR/Cas9 at the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery and oversees stockholdings in the healthcare sector for Smart Woman Securities’ Investment Board. She previously managed subscriptions for the Yale Scientific.

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Cheryl Mai

Copy Editor

Cheryl is a freshman in Davenport College and a prospective Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry major. She currently studies the signaling pathway of allergens in the Medzhitov Lab. 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 and playing piano.

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Kendrick Umstattd

Copy Editor

Kendrick is a freshman 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 helping to organize 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 participating in extracurriculars or working on her engineering and Chinese coursework, Kendrick enjoys helping her peers with calculus and doing yoga with fellow Yalies.

Emily Boring

Special Sections Editor

Emily is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She works in the Marine Invertebrate Zoology lab at the Peabody Museum and sings in Yale Glee Club. An aspiring marine biologist and nature-writer, her goal is to use creative writing and poetry to connect people to ecosystems and spread awareness about sustainability. As a Yale Outdoors Leader, Emily’s greatest passion is being outside. At home in Oregon, she can be found mountain climbing, skiing, organic farming, trail-running, or frolicking in freezing rivers and oceans.

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Claire Kim

Special Sections Editor

Claire is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College from Northern New Jersey (aka the suburbs of New York). In addition to YSM, she is a member of Yale Steppin’ Out. In her free time, she likes to knit for charity, kickbox, and drink all types of caffeinated drinks.

 

Production Staff

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Aviva Abusch

Production Manager

Aviva Abusch (PC ’18) is a Cognitive Science major, specifically studying the neurological, psychological and societal implications of autism spectrum disorders. Outside of her participation in nearly every branch of YSM, Aviva can usually be found hanging around in a theater or leading a group of lost and confused high school students around campus. She enjoys playing guitar, swimming, and proudly attending every bagel brunch at Slifka.

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Erin Wang

Layout Editor

Erin is a sophomore in Morse College majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. In addition to YSM, she is also involved with the Yale Undergraduate Mindfulness Education Initiative, the HAVEN Free Clinic, and WYBCx Yale Radio. She is helping the Koelle Lab catalog the expression of G-protein coupled receptors in the C. elegans neural connectome. In her free time, she loves to run outside, bake banana bread, watch Game of Thrones, and pore over pretty magazine spreads.

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Ashlyn Oakes

Art Editor

Ashlyn is a sophomore in Berkeley College and is planning to follow the design concentration of the architecture major. Illustrations Editor for the Yale Daily News, Ashlyn was dragged into YSM against her will by Managing Editor and suite mate Allison Cheung. Typically, she cowers in fear when confronted by any type of science, much preferring the comfort of crayons. Ashlyn does absolutely nothing else with her life.

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Stephen Le Breton

Photography Editor

Stephen Le Breton is a junior in Davenport College majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. He performs research in the Horsley Lab. He is a brother of the Chi Psi fraternity, Vice-President of the Yale Undergraduate Consulting Group and a Coach for Yale Connect. In his free time, Stephen enjoys reading, cooking and cheering on any Boston team.

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Newlyn Joseph

Webmaster

Newlyn is a freshman in Morse College and a prospective Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics major with a strong interest in the medical sciences. In his spare time, he loves to program and volunteer at various science outreach events. He enjoys participating in the Yale College Council Communications Department as a web developer. For fun, he loves reading scientific literature and pretending he’s pro at League of Legends.

 

Business Staff

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Kevin Hwang

Publisher

Kevin is a junior in Berkeley College studying EP&E and MCDB, and is from Athens, Ohio. His guilty pleasure is procrastinating by reading about movie spoilers instead of just watching the movies themselves. Besides serving as Publisher, Kevin also works closely as the Outreach Liaison for Pathways to Science, serves as the Dwight Hall Education Network Coordinator, and teaches with Yale Young Global Scholars. In his free time, Kevin enjoys archery, creative writing, and chatting with friends about anything.

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Chunny Ding

Operations Manager

Chunyang Ding is a freshman in Saybrook College and a prospective Intensive Physics major. Besides being passionate about scientific journalism, Chunny is also involved on the Outreach team of YURA and is working with TEDxYale. In addition, he is currently researching with the SAGA collaboration on satellite galaxies. When he isn’t busy, he roots for the Seahawks, takes embarrassing pictures of friends, and contemplates what it means to be punny.

Lakshmi Iyengar

Advertising Manager

Lakshmi is currently a sophomore in Ezra Stiles. In addition to studying Biomedical Engineering, she is a dancer on Yale’s Bhangra team, a FOOT leader, and a member of Engineers Without Boarders. She has been writing for the Yale Scientificsince her freshman fall and is interested in sharing science with the public. In her free time, Lakshmi enjoys reading and playing board games with friends.

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Dawn Chen

Subscriptions Manager

Dawn is a freshman in Pierson College who plans to major in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. She loves explosive science and would love to share this knowledge with the public. She is also a pizza maker at the Yale Farm and a teacher for Splash/Sprout. Hit her up if you need a cooking partner or want to play some bridge!

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Kevin Biju

Subscriptions Manager

Kevin is a freshman in Morse College and a prospective 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 MEDx and the Yale Undergraduate Research Association. He also enjoys volunteering in the IT department of HAVEN Free Clinic. In his free time, Kevin can be found playing guitar with his friends, reading books on behavioral economics, or showing off his yo-yo skills.

 

Outreach and Events Staff

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Ruiyi Gao

Synapse President

Ruiyi is a sophomore in Berkeley College and an Economics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major. Beyond YSM and Synapse, she is involved with Girl Scouts, the Public Health Coalition and clinical research.

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Stephanie Smelyansky

Synapse Vice President

Stephanie Smelyansky is a freshman in Timothy Dwight college studying Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. She is also a volunteer at the Yale Women’s Center and is a member of WYBC Yale Radio. Besides working with the Yale Scientific Magazine, Stephanie enjoys sushi, reading, traveling, and perusing coffee shops.

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Sarah Ludwin-Peery

Outreach Coordinator

Sarah is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight majoring in chemistry and sociology. She is passionate about science, running, and Kanye West. Outside of YSM and Synapse, she can be found crocheting chemo caps, researching ribosome biogenesis at the Yale School of Medicine, and taking unplanned naps on the second floor of the TD library.

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Uche Medoh

Outreach Coordinator

Uche is a freshman in Berkeley College and a prospective Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major. In addition to his work with YSM, he is an active member of the Black Men’s Union. Uche loves the idea of disseminating the value of science to the local community, for he maintains that fostering a strong passion for the sciences in others is important for future innovation and scientific progress. In his free time, he enjoys exercise, football, shooters, and lighthearted debate.

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Julia Wei

Outreach Coordinator

Julia is a freshman in Silliman College and a prospective physics major. Outside of YSM, she is a copy editing staffer at the YDN and a freshman liaison for UWISAY. A native of San Francisco, Julia spends most of her time indoors to avoid winter weather. While waiting for season 6 of Game of Thrones, she reads books of all kinds, plays the violin, and drinks tea.

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Milana Bochkurdratver

Social Media Coordinator

Milana is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. In addition to writing for the YSM and spreading the mission of Synapse, she enjoys serving on the board of the Yale Medical Professions Outreach organization, organizing Relay for Life, and shadowing physicians at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Originally from Los Angeles, she is enjoying the seasons in New Haven. In her spare time, Milana can be found spending time in the Yale University Art Gallery, practicing piano, or hiking.

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