story | Alcan Sng, Contributing Reporter
photo | Alcan Sng
From Sept. 4-6, the annual Summer Research Symposium returned for its third iteration, held at Saga Lecture Theatre 1 and the Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre. The symposium was jointly organized by the Yale-NUS College Dean of Faculty office, the Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) and the J.Y. Pillay Global Asia Programme. This year, over 30 students presented their research that they conducted over the summer through a bevy of posters and multimedia sessions.
The three-day symposium opened with a welcome address by Yale-NUS’ Dean of Faculty, Professor Jeanette Ickovics. The research presented this year spans a wide range of disciplines, including ecology, medicine, sociology, education, organic chemistry, and applied mathematics, a sure indicator of Yale-NUS’ commitment to an interdisciplinary education.
According to CIPE’s Programme Manager for Leadership & Global Citizenship, Ms Zhana Sandeva, the Summer Research Symposium is “[an annual] celebration of research on campus and an invitation for more students to engage in research” and most importantly, a “platform for students to practice presenting their research to a general audience in an accessible and relatable manner.
Unique to this year’s symposium was a panel discussion on how research could be integrated into graduate schools and careers, featuring Associate Professor Anju Paul (Yale-NUS), Associate Professor Scott Compton (Duke-NUS Medical School) and Ms Julienne Chen (Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities, Singapore University of Technology and Design).
Other Yale-NUS faculty such as Cendana College Rector Neil Clarke and Saga College Rector Khoo Hoon Eng were also present to lend their support to the presenters during the symposium. In an interview after the session, Heng Jia Min ’20 and Kristoforus Bryant Odang ’21, who presented on how leaf-and-stem traits could predict drought tolerance in Panama’s secondary rainforest, mentioned how it was “heartwarming to have people, especially such seasoned scientists, interested in the project we are doing.” At the same time, Odang expressed that their presence also inspired them to present their research as accurately as possible.
Heng also shared that her month-long summer research experience from the start of June until the beginning of July was primarily motivated by her interest in research design and her love for plants. Her curiosity about the long-term research project in Panama conducted by Assistant Professor Michiel van Breugel was piqued by the extensive discussions she had on the topic in class. Like Odang, the summer research programme seemed a perfect opportunity for her to experience first-hand a forest she had previously only studied in the forms of graphs and Python codes.
There were also several first-years in attendance at the various conferences. Oan Jia Xuan ’22 saw the presentations on urban farming as relevant to her interests and an extension of her enthusiasm for the urban farming chapter under Yale-NUS’ I’dECO. She indicated that the presentation was an inspiration to her, and that given the opportunity, she would take part in next year’s Summer Research Programme.
The symposium this year did not feature any projects in the humanities. When asked, Ms Sandeva explained that the funding, unlike for those for the natural and social sciences, does not extend to faculty-led projects and only covers student-initiated projects owing to various “other programmes such as the Summer Academic, Summer Arts and Summer Language Scholarships, as well as the Writing Fellowship Programme.” This year, there were no students who submitted proposals in the humanities.
That being said, CIPE is considering expanding support to faculty-led projects in the humanities. At the same time; however, the “level of representation would depend on how many humanities faculty initiate summer research projects,” and the interest of the students in taking up such projects.
The three-day symposium concluded with an opportunity for first-year and second-year attendees to meet and mingle with presenters to learn more about the summer research experience and to find out more about the the summer research programmes for 2019.
To find out more about ways to get involved in research, students can visit the CIPE Summer Research Opportunities page at https://cipe.yale-nus.edu.sg/summer-opportunities/summer-research-opportunities/ or email Ms Sandeva at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions. Applications for 2019 Summer Research Programmes will open in January 2019.