We propose a medium of scientific expression for the students, by the students. The community needs a medium that will focus on recognizing and unifying Dartmouth undergraduate research while also, motivating more students to get involved in the advancement of scientific thought. We need some entity to become the source of scientific dialogue and expression within the community. Therefore, we propose the establishment of The Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science (1).
In Project Proposal written by the Founders
February 1, 1999
In late 1998, the DUJS was conceived in order to satisfy a need. Too often, students would write culminating research reports that made it only as far as supervisors’ desks. Occasionally, students would have the opportunity to participate in writing a formal article with a research mentor. Such experiences, however, did not always afford students the freedom to creatively ‘play’ with ideas, or consider alternative explanations. Moreover, students’ work was largely unknown to each other, resulting in a lack of potential peer learning and co-construction of ideas. Therefore, if research ever made it to the Collis coffee table, it was usually a superficial recounting of moments in the laboratory. In essence, the spirit of creative thinking and scientific dialogue relating to undergraduate research was missing.
The aim of the DUJS was to change this experience. As the founders, Tim Lesle ’01, Soon Hyouk Lee ’01, Arvindh Kanagasundram ’01 and Amar Dhand ’01, stated in the quotation above, the DUJS sought to recognize, unify, and motivate undergraduate research. College administrators and alumni swiftly supported this vision, perhaps because it served to bolster Dartmouth’s research identity, an asset in the perpetual jostling among premier universities. The DUJS was awarded grants from the Hewlett Presidential Venture Fund, the Dean of Sciences, and the Dean of Faculty. Subsequently, it received substantial donations from trustees and prominent alumni including Peter Fahey ’68, Barry MacLean ’60, TJ Rogers ’70, and Dwight L. Allison ’51.
The first issue, published in Spring 1999, was an experiment in defining the journal’s identity as a ‘science’ periodical. Fittingly, the cover was a collage of images designed to represent the diversity of ideas embodied by science. The issue included papers ranging from the organic by-products in the disinfection of natural waters to a reflective piece about a cubic mathematical equation in a student’s journey to understand himself. The first issue also established the tradition of highlighting Dartmouth science with articles about scanning probe microscopy work at the College and the Nobel Laureate alumnus Owen Chamberlain ’41 (2).
Students and alumni were impressed with the journal and the quality of its articles. As Anura Abeyesinghe ’01 stated, “The journal is online and that made it easy for me to simply mention the website in my application so that the grad school people could read my article and get an idea of the kind of work I have done” (3). Alumni were frequent readers as Colin B. Holman ’39 attested:
I surely do wish we had such a journal as you now have to display our efforts. Anyway, I am very happy to have your journal and hope to see more of it. I have published over a hundred papers and book chapters during my time on the staff of the Mayo Clinic where I worked after serving in the Medical Corps of the army during WW 2 and am sorry my bibliography doesn’t contain a contribution in your fine journal (4).
Central to the early development of the journal was its faculty-student collaboration, most evident in the editorial process. The initial group of faculty advisors included Drs. Paul Corballis, Ursula Gibson, George Langford, Delo Mook, Leslie Sonder, and Samuel Velez. The first student editors were Bryan Coffing ’00, Brian C DeSchuytner ’00, Karen Glocer ’00, Gwendolyn M. McKee ’02, Jacob Waldbauer ’01, and the four founders. This faculty-student group was critical in soliciting articles from different departments, creating parameters of “high quality” research, and providing specialized expertise in organizing and presenting ideas and data in a persuasive manner. Using faculty guidance, the first editorial board conceived an intensive review and editing process. At least two editors and one faculty advisor read each submitted article, and then debated its inclusion during a full meeting. Subsequently, each editor would work one-on-one with an author to sharpen arguments, implement the board’s suggestions, and format the article appropriately. A novel scientific dialogue began to flourish on multiple levels.
The journal would not have survived without transitioning the leadership to new generations of editors. Therefore, fostering editorial and leadership skills in the younger generation was a goal of the original editorial board in the journal’s third year of existence. Experienced editors often paired up with inexperienced editors to demonstrate how to work with authors and faculty advisors to perfect articles. Specific hands-on knowledge was also transmitted about layout, fund-raising, and working with the administration. These activities constituted an embedded curriculum developed by the board to ensure the longevity of the journal. When the original editorial board began graduating in 2000 and 2001, this foresight paid off as the journal was recognized as one of nation’s pioneering student journals in the May 2001 issue of the journal Nature (3).
It was in the spring of 2003 that the journal experienced one of the most dramatic single improvements in its history. Hereafter, the body of the journal including graphs, tables, and images would be produced in color. This change, undertaken by journal president Peter Chalmers ’05 and editor-in-chief Laura Berzak ‘04, significantly improved the quality and attractiveness of the final product. Just one year later, nearly every graphic was printed with high-quality color inks, which was likely responsible for the subsequent increase in readership. According to Chalmers, “color printing layers an entirely new dimension of information onto figures.” The transition, he says, “provided innumerable benefits to the journal’s ability to advance scientific knowledge at Dartmouth” (5).
In addition to printing student research in the journal, the journal’s staff has sought innovative opportunities for exposure of student work. In the summer of 2004 members of the DUJS staff helped organize a series of science broadcasts on WDCR Dartmouth College Radio. In 2005, a new partnership was forged with UGResearch.org, an organization founded by Dartmouth graduates to expand the availability of undergraduate research beyond schools at which it was conducted. Many articles published in previous editions of the DUJS were manually uploaded into a database that features student research from around the country. Projects such as these very much complement the DUJS’ mission of striving to promote undergraduate interest in science and writing.
Another aspect of the journal’s mission is to encourage interaction between members of the Dartmouth community and the professional world of science journalism. To this end, in 2004, the journal’s staff organized a seminar series on science writing featuring career journalists. As part of this program, writers from the New England Journal of Medicine and deputy editor Craig Whitney of the New York Times visited the DUJS in April and May of 2004. That year, the journal also began organizing regular outings to the offices of Dartmouth Medicine. The goal was to introduce the staff to the editors and writers of a professional science magazine and to promote collaboration between the two publications. In fact, members of the DUJS staff have served as interns at Dartmouth Medicine, and Dartmouth Medicine has reprinted original DUJS articles.
Additionally, the DUJS staff has helped coordinate events for its members to meet with visiting scientists from the Montgomery Fellows Program. Rita Colwell, a former director of the National Science Foundation, Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist and author of case histories collection Awakenings (which was adapted to a film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro), and both Sidney Altman and Thomas Cech, co-recipients of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on the catalytic properties of RNA, are among the distinguished guests with whom the DUJS staff has had an opportunity to meet through the program. Certainly, the journal’s staff has benefited from these incredible opportunities to engage scientists in a dialogue on science writing and their professional careers.
One of the most exciting milestones of Dartmouth science history was celebrated in 2006. That year marked the semicentennial of the establishment of artificial intelligence as a research discipline by Dartmouth professor John McCarthy. To help celebrate this occasion, the college hosted the AI@50 conference, which brought 175 leading researchers from around the world to campus (including five of the surviving founders of the discipline – one of whom was McCarthy himself). For its part, the DUJS dedicated an issue to artificial intelligence and many staff members had an opportunity to meet with these distinguished visitors. Also, with the initiative of journal president Jacob Goldberg ’07, the journal conducted its first ever essay contest for original articles written about artificial intelligence. Winning submissions were featured in the AI issue, which was released concurrently with the conference.
Currently, a decade after the journal’s inception and acceptance into the Dartmouth science community, the organization is stronger than ever before. The future seems promising for the journal: its incoming leadership is capable and ambitious, its staff – writers, editors, and technical personnel – is hard-working, and the intellectual community to which it belongs is presently producing some of the most impressive science achievements in recent history.
This provides a logical and appropriate opportunity for celebration of the journal’s own accomplishment. Thanks to this thriving academic community, the DUJS has itself been able to thrive over the past ten years. A decade’s worth of Dartmouth students have been significantly influenced by the journal’s strong presence in their midst. Scientists here and elsewhere have been genuinely interested in the developments propagated by the journal, as evidenced by worldwide subscriptions. Over the years, the DUJS has also aided and advised in the establishment of undergraduate science journals across the country. Some, such as that of Harvard University, have been quite successful. This prompted editor-in-chief James Klaas ’04 to see the DUJS as a trailblazing publication, “a model for all undergraduate journals of science” (6).
In 1998, the DUJS was conceived to satisfy a need on campus. Reflecting on ten years of the journal’s existence, it is fair to say that now the reality is larger than the idea proposed. The journal has undergone an evolution spurred by the changing needs of the Dartmouth community, innovative undergraduate research, and successive generations of creative editorial boards. As a result, the journal has endured and developed into a dynamic enterprise fit to be a “medium of scientific expression for the students, by the students.”
1. A. Dhand, S.H. Lee, T.K. Lesle, A. Kanagasundrum, unpublished document entitled The Darmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science: Project Proposal (1999).
2. See Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science 1, 1 (1999) for all of the above-mentioned articles.
3. J. Chen, Nature 411, 6833 (2001).
4. A. Dhand, personal communication.
5. F. Glaser, personal communication.
6. S. Okazaki, VOX Of Dartmouth 22 (2004). Available at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~vox/0304/0209/journals.html.