Now in its fourth year, Young Investigators Review—Stony Brook’s student-run undergraduate journal of science—fosters student research, connects undergraduates with mentors, and provides an outlet for students enthusiastic about science writing. The annual journal, published twice so far, features original research articles, reviews, essays, commentary, science news, and interviews covering a wide range of scientific disciplines. The goal of the publication is to provide the campus community with a way to learn about the most recent science research news at Stony Brook and to showcase the work of talented undergraduate researchers.
“Although the journal’s founders majored in the biological sciences, we make it a point to reach out to all of the sciences,” says Editor-in-Chief Nadya Peresleni, a biochemistry major who is graduating this spring. “Our articles encompass the natural and applied sciences including the biological sciences, physics, bioengineering, mathematics, and the social and behavioral sciences. One of our staff writers is writing about research in psychology.”
Besides publishing the journal, the group has hosted two symposia: one in 2009, featuring keynote speaker Martin Chalfie of Columbia University, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008, and the second in 2010, featuring keynote speaker Robert Weinberg of MIT, who discovered the first human oncogene, H-ras. Students gave poster presentations, and both faculty and student speakers gave oral presentations of their research.
“The symposium was a way to reach out to the campus community and get people really excited,” says contributing writer Polina Pinkhasova, a pharmacology major in the class of 2012. “The founders wanted to make it an annual tradition. Last year we had 300 people attend.” She underscored the fact that the journal is the primary focus of the group.
The current issue of Young Investigators Review features articles on the regulation of chloroplast synthesis, Lyme Disease, stem cells, the Atomic Force Microscope, and a new biomedical engineering micropatterning technique. The previous issue included articles on nanotechnology, Alzheimer’s research, the Large Hadron Collider, RNA interference, and a medical student’s experience dissecting a cadaver.
“We encourage a general overview of student research,” says Peresleni, who was also a staff writer for two years. “Ideally, we’d like students to write about their research experience or general articles about their work in which they don’t have to disclose certain results or figures, but present an abstract that can be published in multiple places.”
Both the journal and the symposium exist to encourage and publicize undergraduate research. “Because this is a research university, a lot of Stony Brook students are going into labs and working alongside graduate students and principal investigators, and they’re making big contributions,” says Pinkhasova.
For students who have not yet identified a laboratory in which to begin research, the publication is an aid to networking. “Part of our goal is to get students into research positions—but as a result of the writing process,” Peresleni adds. “We have one staff member who did a review of micro-RNA and as a result she found an internship at Penn State for the summer—the topic became a passion of hers.”
Young Investigators Review has a staff of ten and encourages students to get involved as writers, reviewers, content and layout editors, graphic and Web designers, or public relations representatives. Interested students can visit the Web site to read archived articles from the last two issues, download PDFs, and apply online. They can also come in and talk to students who are already involved.
“We’re open to everyone who expresses serious interest and dedication,” says Peresleni. “We facilitate a mentor relationship between editors and new, inexperienced writers. New writers get a lot of guidance in how to write better, how to review primary research sources, and more. We have a list of the most current research going on at Stony Brook, and we have students look through it and see if there’s something they want to write about.”
“We want students to be writing about something they’re passionate about, that’s really hooked them, because it’s a long process and it takes dedication.”