Every Pirate has had their own experience adapting to the “new normal” of remote learning. Laurence Shao ’22 is one who has thrived with distinction. Though Laurence hails from Chongqing, China, during the pandemic he has remained in the United States and lived with a series of host families—both to learn more about American culture and to minimize disruptions to his educational experience.

He has also completed an impressive research project: analyzing several of the common anti-contagion policies that were used to combat COVID-19 in four different countries, with the hopes of understanding the effectiveness of each. The paper Laurence wrote for the project, entitled, “Analyzing the Anti-contagion Policies of COVID-19 Based on the Epidemiological and Economic Coefficients,” was recently accepted to be published by and presented at the 2nd International Conference on Computing and Data Science.

Laurence explains that the idea for the research project came about from his emotional reaction to the pandemic, as well as a newly found abundance of free time:

“A pandemic should not be this rampant; we must learn from this one in order to prepare for future ones. So, I began to collect information from the pandemic and ultimately decided that analyzing effective public policy would be an exciting and helpful research topic.

After the school was closed, I chose not to return home…Staying in the US was challenging, but I never regret it. Stevenson reacted efficiently to the pandemic and with great effort, and this gave me the confidence to stay close to our community, which I believed would continue to thrive and care for its members in the face of adversity. It turned out to be true. I am having a fantastic learning experience while living with American host families. (However, sometimes during weekends or holidays, I am bored without teachers, friends and my family. That’s when I have time to conduct my research).”

On January 28, Laurence attended the 2nd International Conference on Computing and Data Science online, and presented his paper to other attendees. “The conference was awesome,” Laurence reports. “I was honored to listen to the presentations from cutting-edge scholars…Even though it might take me a few more months to understand their work, I do think they present a bright picture of millions of researchers that are changing our life bit by bit in one way or another. I am proud to be one of them.”

Laurence’s time living in America has been exciting and eye-opening, and he expresses immense gratitude for his host families, advisors, fellow Human Interactive Science Club Members, and the faculty at RLS. His advisor, head of the upper division Dr. Dan Griffifths, is proud of Laurence’s personal and academic success. He explains, “Laurence hasn’t seen his family in over a year, and has lived with a series of host families (that are total strangers to him). In all this time, he is crushing his schoolwork and expresses his gratitude for what he has every time we meet. He is a really sweet guy, who is showing incredible resilience and commitment to his education.”

While Laurence still has one more academic year to finish before he graduates, he is already looking ahead to what he might do next. He explains, “I would like to continue my research process and use my results to help Monterey County. If given the opportunity, I’d love to collaborate with the public health department, analyze some local data based on my hybrid model, and provide feedback to assist policymakers in enacting policies that would minimize negative effects on health and the economy.”

Image below is an illustration of the challenges Laurence identified in his work.