The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal

Fall 2020

Vol 1.1 – Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

We are thrilled to present you with the inaugural issue of the Yale Undergraduate Research Journal, the first publication spanning the full breadth of research conducted at Yale. In creating this journal, we provide a platform to engage with the thoughtful, exciting, and cutting-edge work of our peers.

As we release this issue into the world, we would be remiss in failing to discuss the current state of affairs. Our world is one plagued by two crises, COVID-19 and systematic racism. Besides precipitating immeasurable tragedy, the virus's spread has also slowed, stalled, or halted much of the research conducted at academic institutions. Alongside the increasing number of victims lost to coronavirus, the devastating deaths of Black Americans—including those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others—prompt us to put research in perspective, to consider its role in a disaster-stricken, divided, and unjust society.

Only through research, though, with meticulous quantitative and qualitative methods, can we deeply understand the root causes at play and begin to create enduring plans for change—whether developing a vaccine or dismantling oppressive structures. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we reaffirm the importance of pursuing truth, engaging in critical study, spreading awareness, and taking bold action to move society forward.

Over the past several months, our team has worked tirelessly to bring you the best research in the undergraduate community. We received more than a hundred submissions encompassing over 45 disciplines across the humanities, the social and natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Each submission underwent rigorous review by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors. We would like to thank our dedicated reviewers, faculty advisors, staff, and contributing peers for making this issue possible.

As you read through these pages, we hope you will find yourself as inspired and illuminated as we have been. In the coming months, we will continue to publish stellar research on our website at yurj.yale.edu and look forward to another round of submissions at the end of the fall semester.

In pursuit of light and truth,
Lukas Corey
Editor in Chief



Deep Learning in Musical Lyric Generation: An LSTM-Based Approach
Harrison Gill, Daniel Lee, and Nick Marwell


Children's Reasoning About In-group and Out-group Obligations
Karli Cecil, Julia Marshall, and Paul Bloom


In Search of Play
Margaret Saunders


Altering sensory learning by chronic inactivation of VIP interneurons
Christopher Alba, Hannah Selwyn, Katie Ferguson, and Jessica Cardin