HomeVolume 7December 2022 Dive into research young!

LAYA IYER is in her second year of Computer Science at Stanford University, California. She talks about what motivated her journey as a young researcher, and encourages other young people to take up research.

My research journey began as a freshman in high school. I spent my first year noticing the enormous amounts of social, academic, and athletic pressure that was put on students in my districts, including self-induced pressures. Since I understood the implications that societal and academic pressure can have on the mental health of students, I wanted to see if there was a way to help mitigate these effects. So, in order to help the people around me, I created an app and I evaluated the efficacy of my app so as to contribute to the broader wellness-research community.

I have been around research from a very young age – inspired by a mother who pursued her Ph.D. when she had three girls under 3. This molded my mind into an inquisitive one. Developing a sense of curiosity helped me to be excited about solving problems and opened up a world of possibilities and ways of thinking.

But I didn’t just stop at questioning, taking actionable steps to soothe my curiosity. It helped make me feel like I had a bigger purpose – giving back to people around the world. Helping people by proposing ways to solve problems, and evaluating solutions fulfills me and keeps me going through difficult experiences.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my school days were academically intense, taking three advanced science classes at once. After school, on the swim team, I would practice for three hours, feeling both mentally and physically exhausted. But, when I came home, I was rejuvenated by working on something that satisfied me, that I was genuinely curious about. One of the best things about research is that you can work on anything you are passionate about and develop your ideas in that area!

After setting up my research question and getting the study approved through an institutional review board, I began to collect data. For me, the most exciting part of there search experience is seeing all the data come in, then analyzing and drawing patterns among the numbers. In the analysis phase, the data come together like pieces of a puzzle. Eventually, you have data that either support your initial thought process or reveal something new.

Being a young person in research, you also provide fresh and new perspectives to professionals who have been working in their field for a long time. This introduction of a unique perspective often helps solve complex, unsolved problems; or at least tests out new ideas for problems that have existed for an extremely long time. Contributing to a larger foundation of research work is a gratifying experience, as your research informs the next generation of researchers in your area.

Every step of the way in the research process – whether you just want to be involved in the ideation phase or you really enjoy analyzing the data – you benefit from dipping your fingers in. If you have the opportunity to work in research, leap at it and flourish!


Laya Iyer

Laya Iyer

Laya is a sophomore at Stanford University, where she studies computer science. She loves to go on hikes, meditate, read books, and play the piano. She is experienced in the full-life cycle development of multiple apps and is passionate abo... Read More