My YSPH & New Haven Summer

Sign stating "yale school of public health" in front of the school of public health

I have come to intimately know New Haven during most of the seasons: the picturesque fall, harsh winter, and allergy-heavy spring. However, my experience with New Haven in the summer has been very limited. Yes, I took classes here in summer of 2021 through summer session, but that was only a month and I lived in a Yale dorm like I do the rest of the year. Being a first year at the time and still being very COVID cautious meant I didn’t explore the city and Yale at large.  

But this summer I had the pleasure of living in New Haven proper in order to do research at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH)! Every morning, I walked from my summer sublet on Crown Street to the YSPH with my prepped lunch and lab-appropriate attire (long pants and closed toed shoes, even if it was very hot). Then in the second half of the summer, I would walk from my new sublet on Howe Street, now ready to just buy my lunch from the food carts that line the street outside of the Yale School of Medicine during lunch hour. If you’re wondering, I highly recommend the Arepa, Chinese, and Vietnamese food carts. I followed this routine for two months, which ultimately shaped my summer experience as a researcher. 

a collage of two lab materials organized by author, including labeled tubes and blood plates for bacteria growth
These are things I made in the lab, including my very first blood agar plates!

I had some experience working in a lab, but not one focusing on microbiology. I worked with SalivaDirect, a lab that focused on saliva-based testing. This lab’s work was critical during the thick of the COVID pandemic as they had created diagnostic tests that were accessible and cost-effective to use and distribute. My own career aspirations align with the efforts of the lab of making health technology and advancements easily available to those who need it. My work in the lab this summer focused less on the accessibility, and more on the actual biological science behind such tests. I worked a lot with saliva, both healthy and diseased. Anything you can imagine doing with saliva in a laboratory, I probably did it. I learned the work from my own lab mentor and from others in the lab. Every Friday, we had a lab meeting in which someone from the lab group would go into detail about the research they had been working on for months. I am not studying microbiology specifically, so this summer served as a way to learn about the field by fully immersing in it. 

Beyond the rewarding nature of doing research, it was really exciting to be in New Haven and make new friends both in lab and via my living accommodations. In making new friends, new experiences also came forth. I tried a lot of new cafes and restaurants around New Haven and attended pop up events around the city almost weekly. I tried to do something exciting every week, and I can confidently say I accomplished that. This is one of the great things about living in a city: there isn’t a shortage of things to do!  

selfie of Luna and four other interns enjoying an outing to nyc
Me and my fellow interns in the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park, NYC!

Most of my time was spent exploring the greater New Haven area, including North Haven and Fair Haven. Additionally, I was also able to travel lots within the Northeast during the summer since everything is so close: going to NYC, Philadelphia, and back home to NJ. I actually spent a day in New York with my fellow interns from the lab, which spontaneously occurred and we made work despite the rain that day. This was what I found to be the essence of my summer: being able to live in the moment and appreciate the city and Yale. I continue to live in a dorm during the school year, but this was my first time living in an apartment off campus, walking distance away from Yale buildings. It is hard to appreciate New Haven during the school year when you are balancing homework and tests, but this summer renewed my awe of and respect for the area and helped me find my favorite secret spots across downtown.