Yale-NUS students head to graduate school in the arts and sciences, furthering passion for research

26 April 2019

By Michelle Lee

For some Yale-NUS seniors, their educational journey is not stopping at graduation. Anandita Sabherwal, Tan Jia Hui, and Zhu Fangchen are among those whose love for learning led to plans to attend graduate school. Despite their different fields, all three share a passion for research and a desire to make a difference through the pursuit of knowledge.

Anandita will be studying for an MPhil in Psychology at Cambridge University. Image provided by Anandita Sabherwal (Class of 2019)

Psychology major Anandita Sabherwal (Class of 2019) will be pursuing a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Psychology at Cambridge. Her desire to pursue the field at a graduate level is due to a wish to study the human behaviour behind ongoing social issues.

“My long-term career goal is to pursue academia in Social Psychology, researching social phenomena such as collective action, the spread of misinformation, and normative influences on social behaviour. Through my graduate study, I will get to conduct full-time, independent research under an expert mentor, and explore how social psychology can be a tool to tackle major social challenges such as climate change, and ethnic/gender-based prejudice.”

Anandita cited her undergraduate research experience as a key factor in encouraging her to go into academia. During her time at Yale-NUS, she had the chance to work in the Mindsets & Motivation Lab under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Social Sciences (Psychology) Paul O’ Keefe, while her study abroad programme at Pomona College gave her the opportunity to conduct research on climate-change related collective action with Pomona College Associate Professor of Psychology Adam Pearson.

Another key factor in her decision to pursue psychology at the graduate level was the Common Curriculum, as well as Yale-NUS’ interdisciplinary liberal arts education.

“I first learnt about social psychology in the Common Curriculum. The Common Curriculum allowed me to juxtapose findings from classic psychology experiments with the study of philosophy and literature. As a result, I was drawn to questions about human nature, and especially how groups affect individual behaviour.”

“My undergraduate experience has also taught me the value of researching a question through varied methodological approaches, rather than limiting myself to a single discipline. For example, by taking a course on ethnography, I realised the importance of qualitative approaches to study social behaviour.”

Fangchen will be pursuing a PhD in Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Image provided by Zhu Fangchen. 

Life Sciences major Zhu Fangchen (Class of 2019) will be pursuing a PhD in Psychological & Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Like Anandita, he attributes his interest in academia to the opportunities he had to pursue research in Yale-NUS.

“Yale-NUS offered me the opportunity to do research in my sophomore year which, for someone who has not worked in a laboratory before, taught me a lot about formulating research questions and conducting good research at an early stage in college. The experience made me more certain I want to pursue research in the future. During the summer breaks, I was able to take part in Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) programmes such as the Yale College Dean’s Research Fellowship to do research at Yale to learn new laboratory skills.”

He said, “The broad-based curriculum at Yale-NUS allowed me to take courses in life sciences, psychology, mathematics and computer science, and philosophy, which gave me a very diverse perspective to look at questions in cognition. I want to continue to explore these questions via an interdisciplinary approach in graduate school.”

The liberal arts approach shaped Fangchen’s choice of his PhD programme at Johns Hopkins University. In this small interdisciplinary programme, he will be able to do research in neurobiology while interacting with psychologists and theoretical neuroscientists.

Jia Hui, a Literature major, is combining her interests in data and writing to pursue a Master in Journalism at Stanford. Image provided by Tan Jia Hui (Class of 2019)

Literature major Tan Jia Hui (Class of 2019) will be pursuing a Master in Journalism at Stanford University.

For Jia Hui, a major part of her decision to pursue graduate studies in journalism was the news industry, which is changing in a rapid and exciting manner by moving towards multimedia approaches.

“This Master’s programme is part of that transformation, in empowering students to produce work that is multimedia, data-intensive, entrepreneurial, and influenced by design thinking; cultivating the breadth of knowledge and critical judgement skill-set needed to excel in a journalism career.

She credits Yale-NUS for developing in her a keen awareness of diversity, given the College’s diverse cohort of students who hail from different backgrounds, cultures and countries. Jia Hui hopes to represent a wide variety of voices in her journalistic endeavours.

“My time at Yale-NUS has prepared me for this programme in countless ways. One of my biggest takeaways from my time here is that connections can be made even with subjects that seem far removed from each other. Yale-NUS has developed my belief in the importance of diverse perspectives and experiences in today’s globalised world.”