Graduate students Matthew Borths, Yang Liu and Youran Wu began formulating SBU Frontiers Magazine in Fall 2014 after taking a class on communicating science at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science in Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. The course helped them understand the importance of — and challenges in — delivering scientific messages in concise, accessible and engaging ways.
SBU Frontiers is a student-run STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) review magazine dedicated to promoting awareness and education. The staff, made up of Stony Brook graduate students, hopes to communicate to a widespread audience, groundbreaking work in STEM fields, especially research being conducted at Stony Brook. The group is targeting audiences ranging from middle school students to professionals in non-STEM fields — current and future scientists, policymakers and donors.
Liu and Wu are PhD students in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Borths is a PhD student in the Department of Anatomical Sciences. They have all had conversations with fellow students about the challenges faced by people in STEM fields, such as access to scientific journals, visa renewal issues for international students and challenges in the job market.
“Through SBU Frontiers, we hope to create solutions to these problems and provide the opportunity for students to hone the essential skills needed for academic and alternative career paths that are not provided by conventional education,” said Wu. “We want to share the beauty and excitement of STEM, not only to help attract the next generation of STEM workers, but to smooth communication and collaboration with the next generation of policymakers and donors.”
The students write and edit the content and also promote the magazine. They are mentored by Elizabeth Bass, director of the Alda Center, and sponsored by the Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME), Graduate Student Organization (GSO), Alda Center, and the departments of Ecology and Evolution, Pharmacology, Physics and Astronomy, and Martha Furie, director of the graduate program in Genetics.
Once the group was recognized and supported by the GSO Executive Committee and the Alda Center, it wasn’t difficult to attract other students to the SBU Frontiers’ staff. Max Katz (Physics) is president of the magazine. They are joined on the executive board by vice president Ping He (Molecular and Cellular Biology); secretary Jianing Yan (Materials Science); treasurer Gen Ito (Geoscience); and public relations director Dan Elton (Physics).
The editorial staff includes editor-in-chief Travis Kruse (Biomedical Engineering); associate editor Prajna Shanbogue (Biochemistry and Structural Biology); copy editor Lisa Robison (Psychology); and graphic designers Mariola Szenk (Biomedical Engineering), Melissa Hoffman (Physics) and Mark Mace (Physics).
“In this issue we have articles that cover the benefits of exercise on slowing the development of Alzheimer’s disease, using augmented reality to enhance the abilities of doctors, new techniques to analyze far-away planets, and why women are left behind in STEM programs,” said Katz. “Our content is generated by writers from a diverse background, including chemistry, geology, physics, psychology, ecology and evolution, and pharmacology. We hope to publish twice per year.”
The first issue is available online.
— Lynne Roth