Bowdoin welcomed a new publication to its scientific community last week. Headed by Joanna Lin ’22 and Anthony Yanez ’22, the Bowdoin Science Journal (BSJ), a biweekly, student-published science journal, released its debut issue on March 1.
According to its website, the publication’s objective is to “provide an invaluable opportunity to explore and engage with many disciplines of contemporary scientific research and issues.”
After working together on remote research this past summer, Lin approached Yanez with the idea to start the journal.
“I was on board the moment she mentioned it,” said Yanez in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Through what they called “interdisciplinary science journalism,” the duo assumed the roles of editors-in-chief of the publication, citing journalists such as Ed Yong of the Atlantic and Stephanie Lee of Buzzfeed as their main inspirations. the duo began to appreciate the need for the journal after witnessing the value of clear science writing, especially against the backdrop of COVID-19.
“One thing that I heard last year was that science is not a news cycle. When COVID[-19] hit and people [were] trying to figure things out … it’s really difficult to synthesize that kind of information,” said Yanez. “The knowledge that we get from that is a really important job that I really appreciated all of these [science journalists] do.”
For Lin and Yanez, the journal also provides a chance to bring discussions happening in science classrooms to the rest of campus.
“Whenever I talked to my friends about something cool I learned in my science classes, they were always really interested in learning more,” said Lin in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “ So, I really wanted to … have a place to share the cool things that happen in the classroom.”
Yanez and Lin hoped to bring the presentations and posters they saw in Druckenmiller Hall and at the President’s Summer Research Symposium to the general student body as well.
“Posters are great, posters have a time and a place, but it’s not the most exciting thing in the world to most people, and I just wanted a more exciting, more accessible and engaging way to share that stuff with people,” Yanez said.
A contributor to the journal, Micaela Simeone ’22, first learned about the publication via an email from someone in the department of digital and computational studies (DCS). For her, the journal is a place where she can delve into the intersections of her interests.
“I’m a DCS and English coordinate major, so I really value being able to think about technology from a human-centric perspective,” she said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I really loved the fact that they were invested in having this be a cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary journal, so [it’s] not just … STEM or … computer science majors who are writing about technology and science.”
Like Simeone, many students learned of the journal from the informational write-ups Lin and Yanez sent out through department chairs and on CampusGroups. Currently, the journal has a staff of 21 students.
“[Recruitment] wasn’t really a problem because there were so many Bowdoin students who were interested in sharing cool things that they learned in the classroom, who wanted to share what they were interested in and what they were working on,” said Lin.
At present, the journal has six sections: biology; chemistry and biochemistry; math and physics; computer science and technology; environmental science and EOS [Earth and Oceanographic Science] and psychology and neuroscience.
Down the line, the journal plans to add three more sections: features, interviews and research. The features section will focus on current research issues happening outside of Bowdoin. The interviews section will highlight conversations with professors, visiting professors and students. The research section will showcase student research on campus and will feature honors and research projects, as well as abstracts and papers.
“[The research section is] something I’m really excited about because I hope to see science-based poetry or art being submitted and showcased, which is something that doesn’t typically happen at Bowdoin,” said Lin.
The journal is currently posted online, which makes it easier to publish articles more regularly with recent and relevant materials.
Aside from the two editors-in-chief, the BSJ does not currently maintain an editorial staff. Instead, contributors edit collectively, helping each other with outlines and making comments on final drafts.
For Simeone, this collaborative environment has been helpful and informative.
“In our meetings for me it’s been a really cool learning experience in reading and suggesting edits on other people’s work,” Simeone said. “Someone wrote about the hole in the ozone layer and [someone] wrote an article called ‘Toxin Therapy’ this week. Those are things that I really wouldn’t know anything about had I not been able to read other people’s writing and talk with them at meetings.”
Stylistically, the journal’s leaders are still figuring out what tone they want to take. However, Yanez explained that accessibility is an important goal for their articles..
“We’re not writing lab reports. This is not an assignment; it’s not a research essay. It’s something that I think any major at Bowdoin, any staff, faculty or [anyone] could read, understand and take something away from,” Yanez said.
The BSJ is hoping to publish a holistic summary of everything its staff has written at the end of the semester. For Yanez, the main goal is to engage and excite the Bowdoin community.
“I hope people can write about what they find interesting and cool about science, or important about science. And I hope that the general Bowdoin audience finds it interesting,” he said. “I hope they get something out of this.”