Share / Discuss

New Student Journal Fosters Science Literacy

Three enterprising seniors are exploring the way natural sciences intersect with the College’s other academic offerings.

Claudia Luján ’15, Ariel Parker ’15, and Randy Burson ’15 launched The Swarthmore Journal of Science (SJOS), an online publication, in January. Their mission is to explain science in a manner easily understood by a broad, general audience.

The biology majors originally conceived the journal in 2011 as a way to communicate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts in an interdisciplinary manner. SJOS packages science content in a visually exciting way to stimulate dialogue between science and nonscience readers.

Submissions, which come from students, include research articles, opinion pieces, photography, and even science-themed poetry.

Amy Vollmer, department chair of microbiology, is one of many faculty supporters. “From time to time, students think about doing some sort of journal,” says Vollmer. “In my experience, few of those ideas have been initiated by a group of students who are as thoughtful and thorough in their ‘background’ work.”

Vollmer believes SJOS enhances science education at Swarthmore through its articles, which are “thoughtful and deliberate and can uncover gaps in understanding or logic,” she says. “When those gaps are filled, the student’s knowledge of the subject is stronger.”

Whether a journal topic explains the science behind the Ebola epidemic or solar physics, its relevance to a broad readership is paramount, according to Luján. Burson expects the magazine will be a valuable resource, especially for underrepresented students pursuing STEM interests.

By combining relevant content with intuitive design, the journal founders hope to make SJOS a strong, compelling, and campus-driven publication. 

“A scientist, at the most basic level, is an investigator: At Swarthmore, we are all broadly trained to investigate and ask questions,” says Parker. “At SJOS, we ask that readers investigate our articles and join the dialogue.”  


+ Read the debut issue of SJOS here.