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Student-run undergrad journal lends voice to varied research

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 22:01

Showcasing the works of undergraduate minds at Texas A&M, “Explorations” undergraduate journal published its fifth volume in the fall.

“Explorations” is a student-run journal that serves as a means for undergraduate students in all fields of study to share with the University their scholarly pursuits, whether scientifically or creatively oriented, said Aaron Griffin, senior biochemistry major and co-chair of the “Explorations” executive board.

“Explorations” began with faculty members — including Beth Tebeaux, Larry Griffin and Barbara Gastel — who had the goal of reviving a student journal on campus, said Sumana Datta, executive director of Undergraduate Research.

“Together we hashed out what we wanted the journal to be,” Datta said. “We wanted it to represent all areas of research and scholarly activity on campus, written for a general audience so the entire Aggie family could enjoy reading about the amazing accomplishments of our scholars and artists.”

Matt Mcmahon, senior geology major and co-chair of the “Explorations” executive board, said each year only the best research, creative work and literary compositions are selected to have a place in the journal.

The board receives anywhere from 80-200 submissions for a given issue, but only selects around 15 percent of the submissions after an intricate review process.

The student initially submits an abstract, and if accepted, he or she is
notified and is asked to write a full article. The student then attends several editing workshops with a selected executive from the board. Once the student and board member are satisfied with the article, it is scrutinized by several other members of the board and is finally sent to Washington D.C. to a professional editor.

Matthew Wiese, senior petroleum engineering major and author of “Water, Chemical Additives, and Their Effect on Shale, “ which was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Explorations, recalls his experience developing his article as an extensive but interactive process.

“The expectations of potential authors were clear from the start and help was always available when we needed it,” Wiese said. “When my abstract was selected it took a board member and me numerous hours a week for roughly three weeks to get my article to a manageable length and style.”

Griffin said what he looks for when reviewing submissions is a captivating story.

“Behind every research project or piece of poetry is passion and curiosity and a drive to push the limits of what’s been done,” Griffin said. “I look for that to come through in submissions.”

Annabelle Aymond, senior telecommunication media studies major and senior editor of layout and design for “Explorations,” said “Explorations” provides a scholarly, literary and creative outlet for students.

“‘Explorations’ serves the student body on a level that most student-run organizations do not,” Aymond said. “It also gives a sense of pride to the University, letting everyone be involved and informed of what brilliant Aggies are accomplishing.”

Megan Poorman, senior biomedical science major and author of, “Developing Minimally Invasive Biosensors from Fluorescent Dye and Red Blood Cells,” published in the Fall 2013 issue of Explorations, said she found her involvement with the journal to be rewarding.

“It not only allows you to spread the word about your research, but it allows you to become familiar with the peer-review and journal-writing processes, which can be really helpful if you are considering a research career post-graduation,” Poorman said.


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