Photo courtesy of Onyedikachi Uche.

Onyedikachi Uche, known as Oby, is an LHHS alum from the class of ’18. Uche is now a rising junior at Yale University. While at Yale, he co-founded an organization called dycphr. It runs a wiki-like website of easy-to-read summaries and visualizations of scientific papers.

“We started dcyphr because we realize that the majority of science research papers are poorly written and not easily accessible or understandable by those who do not already have a strong background in science,” Uche says. “We are working on many really exciting things that will be of interest to high school and college students, parents, and the general public that I would love to share with the Lake Highlands community.”

How was your time at LHHS?

It was great. I had excellent teachers who really helped me grow as a person and a student, and I met a lot of great people who made my time there more enjoyable.

How have your studies at Yale been?

It’s going well so far. The workload is fairly high, but all the classes I’ve taken have been really interesting and taught by amazing professors, which definitely helps with that.

What is your focus at Yale?

As far as what I’m studying, I’m majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.  I would say that my main extracurricular is research in a cell biology lab.

How did you start dcyphr?

A friend and I took the introductory biology sequence last year, and in it we had to read a couple of research papers for discussion section. While reading these papers, we noticed that they were full of jargon that made it difficult to grasp the important ideas and concepts of the actual experiments. We spent a lot of time trying to “decipher” these papers, instead of discussing and considering the importance of their main concepts. We noticed that many other students had this same problem, so we decided make dcyphr.

What is the purpose or benefits of dcyphr?

The big ideas behind dcyphr are to decentralize science and to fight science misinformation. By making our website free to use, we are removing the paywall for accessing scientific research, and by ensuring that our summaries are accurate and easy-to-read, we enable even people with no science background whatsoever to understand science research. Also, the inaccessibility of research makes it much easier for the public to be misinformed about science (which is a problem that is especially important to address now during the pandemic). dcyphr directly tackles this issue by providing free and readable science information to the public.

Image from dcyphr illustrating how the organization is used.

How will this change academics?

By providing students who may not have the necessary resources and experience to understand science research a way to do so, we make it easier for these students to break into STEM fields, which in the long-run will make these fields more inclusive. Also, because of the accessibility barrier, much of published research goes unread, so through dcyphr, we are directly benefitting researchers themselves by increasing the audience of their research

What kind of changes do you want to make in the world?

Sort of in the realm of dcyphr, I envision a world where lack of accessibility does not result in lack of opportunities. STEM as a whole tends to leave behind underprepared students, and I would love to see a decline in this trend. Also, I generally envision a world where more people engage science. Right now, the wealth of science knowledge is concentrated mainly among researchers and those with a high level of science training, and I have hope that this won’t be the case for much longer.