Research Initiative

Our Mission:

WYMA Research Initiative (WYMA-RI) focuses on finding innovative methods of applying conclusions from scientific research to society.  


Program Description: 

WYMA–RI is an interdisciplinary research program targeted at improving mental health and well-being by focusing on academic research and societal implementation. Guided by experienced mentors, our team aims to tackle tough questions on mental health and find innovative applications of academic research to make a tangible impact. WYMA-RI creates a supportive community for scholars to challenge their creativity, develop a strong sense of teamwork, prepare for professional careers, and build a firm foundation in research skills


Why are we here?  

We are a group of psychology majors and enthusiasts who are passionate about improving people’s mental well-being. At first, we vacillated between pursuing a path in research and a path in activism. We felt that research is too distant from our lives to provide a tangible impact, while activism cannot affect a change for the better unless backed by scientific conclusions. Realizing that academic research and social activism have a lot to complement each other, we envisioned bringing together a team of talented individuals to perform research and apply their conclusions to the real world. Hence, we founded WYMA-RI – a program devoted to making an impact. 


Who are we now?  

We are a peer-led team of motivated college students who noticed an issue in society and are determined to play our part in making a change. We are committed to ensuring our research contributes to the well-being of the community and provides excellence in research and scholarship for students. We seek to provide a creative and supportive environment where our fellows can explore new ideas and find new connections. WYMA Research Initiative challenges our fellows to identify problems in the mentality system and affect a positive change. Moreover, we are also committed to helping our community through our WYMA Support Group (SG). WYMA-SG provides a platform for students to share their stories and find fellows to support each other. 


What we do?

WYMA Research Initiative (WYMA-RI) takes on two projects each year. Each project cycles through three phases: research, application, evaluation. Research will occur in the academic Spring and Fall semesters, while the application and evaluation phases take place in the two breaks.  

 (1) In the research phase, our team determines the overarching direction for the project, the specific topic of our research, and brainstorm ways in which our research conclusions be applied to making an impact on society. Throughout the 12~15 weeks of the research phase, our team will review previous research literature, determine a hypothesis, collect, analyze, interpret data, and write an academic paper documenting our work and results. We aim to publish our research findings on our website and in psychology journals.  

(2) During the 8 ~ 10-week application phase, the team will find ways to present and apply our results to society. We will make adjustments to our existing programs, connect with existing organizations, help establish new programs, and find other exciting and creative ways to apply our research results to positively impact our local communities. We hope to challenge our RI fellows and encourage them to apply their knowledge and skills in solving real-world problems. Through critical analysis, trial and error, and perseverance, participants have the opportunity to produce a measurable community impact in a project they can continue well beyond the end of WYMA-RI.   

(3) In the short two-week evaluation phase, we will follow-up on our previous endeavors with surveys, interviews, questionnaires, etc., to ensure that we are making an impact!


Who can participate? 

We are looking for students at the beginning stages of their research journey who are interested in performing original research and applying their findings to benefit society.  

We accept students from higher education institutions of all class years and majors across the globe! We are looking for a diverse group of motivated students with unique talents and abilities who are also passionate about improving mental health. At WYMA-RI, we aim to continually adapt and find new lenses to tackle mental health. We hope to recruit creative individuals who are open to new possibilities and are willing to present bold ideas and novel solutions. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and concern for mental well-being but are not required to have previous field/lab experience.  


Why join us? 

Our program allows students to familiarize themselves with the scientific process and gain hands-on research experience while shaping a better society. By directly participating in a research process from start to finish, our RI fellows can develop a strong understanding and a solid foundation in performing scientific research. Moreover, working in a close-knit research team guided by experienced mentors helps our RI fellows exercise their teamwork capability and build the skills they need to further their professional and academic careers. WYMA-RI seeks to provide a vibrant learning community characterized by supportive peers with complementary skillsets. Here, our RI fellows can grow, be inspired, and pursue their goals in an environment that cares to support them in every way. 


What will you do?

Learn 

  • External Learning Material: We have curated a collection of third-party materials for study on technical knowledge in the field, information from other relevant organizations, developing general research and writing skills, as well as resources for further study at your own time at your own pace.   
  • Assigned readings & videos – At WYMA-RI, the entire team learns together. Together, we will compose a collection of readings and videos that each fellow will complete every week. These materials aim to help us prepare for our original research, expand our vision, and grow our research capabilities. 
  • Workshop – Two guest speakers will share their work and ideas at workshops every month. Here RI fellows will have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and ask questions to dig deeper. 
  1. Engage 
  • Research tasks – Hands-on research is the best way to learn. This idea is the core of WYMA-RI. We will go through the entire research process, from coming up with a testable hypothesis to writing the final draft of an academic paper, with our team of talented research fellows.
  1. Share 
  • Weekly meeting – Our fellows will be assigned separate tasks, either individually or with a small group of other fellows. The weekly meeting is where we can share our progress, discuss ideas, ask questions, and ensure everyone is on track. This is an opportunity to share what you have learned! 
  • Seminar – Our seminars offer the opportunity to share ideas you’ve explored on your own! WYMA-RI thrives on finding new connections between ideas. Each seminar features a RI fellow who will share their own exploration into ideas that interests them, even those unrelated to our research, to help us expand our vision and see things in ways we haven’t before.  

Our research plan changes every semester. Check out our Spring 2021 timeline and program details below!


Research Topics Past and Present:

Spring 2021: The Reciprocal Effects Between Culture and Neurology – The Neural Basis of Mental Well-being  

  • Topic Description: This topic is inspired by a USA Today article reporting that people from East Asian “collectivist” culture are more likely to possess a gene that buffers them from depression than people from western “individualistic” cultures. Moreover, Yiyuan Tang’s study from the Dalian University of Technology suggested that Chinese natives and Americans use different parts of the brain when performing arithmetic calculations (Tang 2006; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0604416103) due to childhood education methods and language use. These results seem to suggest that culture impacts neurology, and this impact might affect our mentality towards mental health. We are interested in exploring some of the limitations of these effects and whether the formation of cultural values, especially regarding mental well-being, has a basis in neurology.
  • Background Introduction: In high school, we created programs that offered a support group and some self-help resources for teenagers dealing with their struggles. While support groups seem to be successful in the United States, most Chinese students tend to be unwilling to express their thoughts, especially in front of strangers. This observation sparked our interest in analyzing some of the differences between cultures and how they might affect our mental health, as well as how we can apply conclusions from academic research on different cultures to improve our support group and mental health endeavors. With our background as Chinese international students, we decided it would be fitting to begin our research focusing on Chinese and American culture.

Join us!