As the current director of the inter-disciplinary The Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, Natarajan has organized a new series of monthly Ideas Salons that consist of inter-disciplinary conversations amongst the faculty and a distinguished speaker series that has brought several artists, writers, scientists and thought leaders as speakers to campus every semester. She has also expanded the cohort of inter-disciplinary Franke research fellows to include undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at Yale who are engaged in unique projects that span disciplinary boundaries.

Mapping as Knowing  Our current intellectual theme is Mapping as Knowing that interrogates the process of mapping, its epistemic purposes and its limits. The on-going inter-disciplinary speaker series will culminate in a workshop (to be held at Yale in 2021 or 22) and curation of an exhibition of maps (2023).

Nature of Inference The Understanding the Nature of Inference project aims to examine deeply the process of inference of cause and effect across disciplines with a view to understanding the utility of conceptual modeling and simulations as proxies for controlled experiments.   We assembled a core group of experts with modeling experience in different intellectual disciplines ranging from epidemiology, cosmology, genetics, organizational behavior to climate modeling and philosophers of science who study the nature of inference.   One of the fundamental and challenging open questions in epistemology across intellectual disciplines is the distinction between causation and correlation. The production of new knowledge is inevitably linked to the understanding of cause and effect and the underlying principles, if any exist, that map between them.  The study of causality lies at the very core of all scientific enquiry.  Sifting out causality is also imperative when predictions for the future behavior of systems under investigation are sought.  There are many approaches to studying causation, including probabilistic, manipulative, counter-factual and structural ones that invariably all comprise a set of mathematical tools that help discriminate between causal connections and statistical associations. This multi-disciplinary Franke project was supported by The John Templeton Foundation and the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund at Yale. The key planned current activity was a virtual colloquium series, open to the public, held once a month.  Eminent thinkers who have established expertise in various facets of the inference question, were our invited speakers.  Prior to the talk, we will make available relevant reading materials from the speaker on this website.  And a day or two after the talk, we will host a follow-up moderated panel discussion session that will delve deeper into the content of the previous day’s colloquium. This session is also open to the public and all recordings are available here.

Learning by Doing  In collaboration with MIT Full Steam Ahead  we are crowd-sourcing simple experiments (videos) that teach important concepts to K-12 students creatively. Our goal is to curate 100 experiments that will inspire kids to be curious and actively engage with the natural world and learn.