When Ruiqi Yang ’23 returned to China in 2021, he couldn’t help but notice the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on daily life. Inspired by his academic interests, he explored the pandemic’s connection to a much-discussed topic in his home country–the housing market.
This summer, Ruiqi spent eight weeks working alongside Assistant Professor of Economics Shuwei Zhang as part of the St. Lawrence University Fellowship program, which provides students with a stipend to complete a research project of their interest that culminates in a final research paper, collection of findings, digital media, exhibitions, performance, or other types of creative projects.
Ruiqi shared some of his research experiences, the important lessons he learned, and how his faculty mentor inspired his academic path at St. Lawrence.
Note: Responses have been edited for length.
Ruiqi Yang ’23
Hometown: Yuechi/Guxian, Sichuan, China
Project Title: “How Did Covid-19 Pandemic Influence the Real Estate Market in China?”
How would you describe your research to someone who doesn’t know anything about the topic?
I targeted provinces in China where COVID-19 outbreaks were present, as the housing market in these regions is likely to be affected by COVID-19. I collected data related to housing prices, transaction volume, and the confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 in that region to see if COVID-19 has changed demand in the market. I conducted statistical analysis and simple regression to visualize the findings. Based on what I observe from the graphs and regressions, I will conclude if and how COVID-19 has influenced the real estate market in China.
What about this topic sparked your curiosity?
The housing market is arguably the most popular discussion among Chinese citizens. The Chinese government enforced a nationwide lockdown in response to COVID-19, and it made me wonder if the housing prices would be affected.
Was there a moment when you felt particularly challenged during your research process? How did you overcome it?
The most challenging thing was data-collecting. As someone who is new to the field of research, I was optimistic about finding the perfect data for my topic. Initially, I failed to find enough data for my original topic: China’s Aging Population and Its Agricultural Industry. I did not completely overcome my challenge as I had to switch my topic, but I learned from the experience that flexibility is crucial in conducting research.
What about your research are you the most proud?
I am always willing to work hard despite some short-lived discouragements along the way.
What's the most rewarding aspect of working closely with a faculty member?
It was incredible to work with my mentor. She showed me how to stay open-minded and think about alternative plans. Her experiences in data searching, collecting, and organizing inspire my future studies.
Finish this sentence: “Through my research, I hope to show others that…”
It is okay to make mistakes, to get confused, and fail. The experience I had in this process is what I found most valuable. I encourage students to try research.