Your 14 top stories in 2014 — and ours

Choosing from among the many stories that YaleNews published in the past 12 months for the “top” ones was a formidable task. So, we decided to offer two top-14 lists — one of the stories that were most popular with our readers, and one showcasing some of our favorite stories about major events and initiatives on campus this year.
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It might seem like it would be an easy task to create a list of the year’s top stories, but in looking over the YaleNews headlines from 2014, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories that we published in those 12 months — stories of discovery, scholarship, innovation, and service — each of them illuminating some corner of this vast institution. Choosing from among these for the “top” ones was a formidable task.

So, we decided to offer two top-14 lists — one of the stories that were most popular with our readers, and one showcasing some of our favorite stories about major events and initiatives on campus this year.

The most-read stories of 2014

(In descending order of popularity)

1. In hairless man, arthritis drug spurs hair growth — lots of it

News that a man with almost no hair on his body grew a full head of hair after a novel treatment using a drug for rheumatoid arthritis sparked headlines around the globe and generated inquiries from hundreds of alopecia patients hopeful for a cure. (Note: Medical inquiries should be directed to

2. Yale professor makes the case for Supercool Metals

Yale engineer Jan Schroers captured readers’ imaginations with his plans to build a thin, lightweight smartphone case that is harder than steel and as easy to shape as plastic.

3. Yale researchers reconstruct facial images locked in a viewer’s mind

“It’s a form of mind reading,” said a Yale professor of the discovery that scientists can use fMRI scans to accurately reconstruct images of human faces as viewed by other people.

4. Today’s Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida

Using a new method of measuring past temperatures, Yale scientists determined that Antarctica, now the coldest place on Earth, was once much, much warmer.

5. Public education, not panic, best approach to Ebola crisis, says Yale expert

This Q&A with public health professor Elizabeth Bradley was published in the wake of news that cases of the disease had been found in the United States. Yale researchers and community members also worked to unravel the science behind ebola and to raise funds for relief efforts. (See “Yale Reponds to Ebola.)

6. 11 Yalies win prestigious scholarships for study ‘across the pond’Three Yale students and an alumnus were awarded U.S. Rhodes Scholarships in 2014, and another alumnus won a Canadian Rhodes Scholarship. Three seniors and three alumni won Marshall Scholarships (the most winners in a single year in over 30 years.)

7. Why don’t the highly educated smoke?

A Yale study revealed that the links between smoking and education in adulthood are explained by characteristics and choices made in adolescence.

8. Unlike people, monkeys aren’t fooled by expensive brands

While people often equate a high price tag with better quality, capuchin monkeys don’t share this particular irrational behavior, this study revealed.

9. Meditation helps pinpoint neurological differences between two types of love

School of Medicine researchers learned that while romantic love activates the brain’s pleasure centers, a more selfless variety of love actually turns off those regions.

10. Enrollment now open for Yale’s new generation of online courses

Tens of thousands of students across the globe have registered for Yale’s Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) since they were first offered last January (56,295 students enrolled in Nobel laureate Robert Shiller’s fall course on financial markets). Yale will offer new MOOC courses during the spring semester..

11. Yale’s first female Afghan graduate traveled more than miles to earn degree

Readers were moved by the story about student Wazhma Sadat, who earned a B.A. in global affairs with distinction at Commencement 2014. Also popular was the story about a student who graduated in May, having completed his B.A. — 48 years later.

12. Fast food companies still target kids with marketing for unhealthy products

While fast food companies are offering healthier sides and drinks in their restaurants, they spent $4.6 billion to advertise their unhealthy products to an audience of children and teens.

13. Following a ‘spectacular’ restoration, a treasured Yale landmark reopens to the public

The nave of Sterling Memorial Library reopened to the public in August, marking the completion of a major restoration project that has returned the space to its original architectural splendor and brought about improvements that will better serve the needs of library users in the 21st century. Watch University Librarian Susan Gibbons discuss the past, present, and future of the Yale Library.

14. Effort to model Facebook yields key to famous math problem (and a prize)

Even the mathematically challenged were intrigued by this story about three Yale researchers who solved a famous problem that had baffled mathematicians since the Eisenhower administration.

Other  stories we love from 2014

(In no particular order)

1. Construction of new residential colleges moving forward, thanks to fundraising efforts

The construction of two new residential colleges — a plan first proposed by Yale President Richard C. Levin — is now underway. The new buildings, which will be completed in 2017, will allow Yale to enroll an additional 200 students each year.

2. Yale Bowl from one to 100

The Yale Bowl marked its 100th anniversary this fall, inspiring this infographic and one other on the many famous people who have played in the historic stadium. Several “Legends of the Bowl” returned for the final home game. (And we would be remiss if we didn’t note that the centennial season marked Yale’s first victory over Army in 50 years.)

3. Yale expands programs to ready students for college as part of White House initiative

At a White House summit on expanding college opportunity last January, Yale committed to expanding its longstanding efforts on college access. Having met those commitments, Yale is launching new initiatives and expanding programs with demonstrated success in helping students prepare for and graduate from college.

4. Yale Center Beijing: Where boundaries (and leaders) meet

The first university-wide center outside of the United States, Yale Center Beijing will serve as a convening space and intellectual hub for leaders, scholars, and students to pursue a wide range of issues affecting China, the United States, and the world.

5. Yale Remembers World War I

In commemoration of the war’s 100th anniversary, YaleNews launched a series featuring Yale experts on the how the war was waged, the great poetry inspired by the conflict, the university’s collections of World War I material, and the story of the pioneering Yale pilots who formed the first naval aviation unit, among other topics.

6. Thousands on campus join in first Founders Day celebration

This year Yale introduced what will be a new annual tradition  — Founder’s Day, commemorating the legislation enacted on Oct. 9, 1701 by the Connecticut colonial assembly to establish the collegiate school that has grown to become Yale University. The day included tours, open houses, and a celebration on Cross Campus, complete with a Y-shaped birthday cake.

7. Inaugural President’s Award for Staff Excellence given to 34 employees

Staff members representing seven key initiatives were honored for their spirit of leadership, innovation, and collaboration.

8. Alumni Assembly hails ‘The Entrepreneurial Spirit at Yale’

Entrepreneurship the “Yale way” aims to achieve a positive social impact, said President Peter Salovey to delegates at the Association of Yale Alumni’s assembly in November. Among the presenters at the event were a Yale student who helped develop high-tech necklaces designed to promote infants’ health in India and another who has created a storybook and educational tools designed to spark young girls’ interest in science

9. Yale Homebuyer Program marks 20 years of investment in New Haven

Since it began 20 years ago, the Homebuyer Program has helped 1,084 Yale faculty and staff — more than two-thirds of them first-time homeowners — to buy their homes in New Haven.

10. First day at Yale for the Peck Place Elementary School

When water damage and the discovery of asbestos closed a school in Orange, Connecticut, Yale officials revamped a space at West Campus to include classrooms, a lunchroom, and even a gym for the young students. Some of them later became Yale’s first sixth-grade graduates.

11. SOM’s new home reflects its integrated approach to M.B.A. education

Just eight days into 2014, the Yale School of Management (SOM) officially opened its new home, Edward P. Evans Hall, a 242,000-square-foot, glass-and-steel structure at 165 Whitney Ave. Watch a time-lapse video of the building’s construction.

12. The many faces of Alexander Pope: Illuminating art history through digital imaging

One of several technical art history projects at the Yale Center for British Art, this endeavor brought together experts in art and science from across the university to examine the intricacies of 18th-century sculptural techniques. Across the street, the STEM + Arts initiative at the Yale University Art Gallery aimed to bring science majors into the museum, while a graduate student in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations searched for Egyptian Blue in ancient Assyrian reliefs

13. Something Wiki this way comes — to West Campus

Peter Hirsch, a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Health, brought the WikiHouse movement to Yale, creating a jigsaw puzzle of a building at the West Campus Urban Farm. Other students whose passions we highlighted this year included Dinée Dorame, whose goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous women; Riddhima Yadav, who is working to promote a sustainable planet; Christopher Howell, who founded the Warrior-Scholar Project; and Gracie White, an aerialist who is spreading her love of the high-flying life on campus.

14. The ticks ‘come marching in’ in singing professor’s microbiology class

We chose this story because it both illustrates the way that Yale faculty members bring creativity into the classroom (see also “On-Hands Teaching” and “Blue”) and, well, it’s just plain fun. For an example of a non-academic story that sparked smiles, see “Abbey Road at Yale.”

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