The SFU Science Undergraduate Blog


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Arts student makes fish friends: on interdisciplinary research

By Griffin Kelly

This spring, I had the opportunity to complete a research project at Salmon Coast Field Station (SCFS), located in the Broughton Archipelago, situated between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland. I am a third year student at the University of Toronto (UofT), but unlike most students and researchers at SCFS, I am not studying science or math. I am completing a double major in Canadian Studies & Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies. Students are streamed into science or arts so early in life – most of my peers, including myself, decided what subjects we were “good” at somewhere around grade 10. I chose history and social studies – the arts. The choice quickly seems irreversible as prerequisites build up and academic pressure looms. I studied marine science in high school, completing field work and scuba diving courses outside of Victoria, BC, for two years. I highly valued this experience, but considered it an outlier in my academic career. However, in my program at UofT, I learned about the impact of natural resources on national identity and conflict originating from resource or land disputes. As climate change continues, there will only be less resources for our growing population. The politics of resource distribution will become increasingly heated and inequitable if there are not legislative measures put in place to protect resources and the communities that rely on them. These issues forced me to recognize that I would need training in conflict theory, but also knowledge of climate change science. Therefore, I came full circle to my interest in marine science, and decided to enroll in an Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) research excursion course about salmon at SCFS. Continue reading

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Introducing the 2016-17 submission guidelines!

Just a couple of days ago I (Emma) registered our journal for its very own ISSN! I will be the first to admit that I was more than a little excited. With the release of our first issue just around the corner (details of a launch event soon to come!), we are already ramping up for the 2016-17 cycle.

We will begin accepting submissions as of September 6th, 2016, and with that in mind we have released an updated set of submission guidelines for the upcoming cycle. The full set of guidelines can be found on our website or downloaded directly here.

A couple of important changes to note:

  1. Rolling Submissions: This cycle, SFU SURJ will be adopting a rolling submissions system. Manuscripts will be evaluated by editors as they are received. If conditionally accepted, submissions will immediately enter the peer review process. Articles will be released digitally throughout the months leading up to the release of a print publication in September 2017, compiling the articles together. The final deadline to submit for the 2016-17 cycle is January 13th, 2017.
  2. Research articles: The primary goal of our journal is to foster and feature undergraduate research in a positive, educational environment. With this in mind, we have clarified our requirements of research articles. Research submitted to SFU SURJ must be original and scientifically sound, but it need not necessarily be novel. Negative results, replication studies, etc will accepted. This policy is similar to that of journals like PLOS ONE.

After a first year during which we were delighted to read about the wonderful research being conducted by undergraduates, we are looking forward to the next round of submissions! If you have any questions about our submission guidelines, drop us a line at sfusurj@sfu.ca, and stay tuned for the 2015-16 issue headed your way.


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Curating an Education

By Clare Atkinson

As undergrads, when we talk about our lives – the jobs, experiences, opportunities, classes – the conversations regularly turns to the resume. An experience’s value can be judged by its appearance, or lack thereof, on the official document of your education. This categorization of education into the official, which we schedule and earn, or the intrinsic, which is ever-occurring and unrecognized, does the double duty of fragmenting a life-long thread of acquired knowledge and alienating young people from building a sense of self education.

I’m 20. That number doesn’t inspire a whole lot of self-confidence in the significance of my perspective, but I am getting educated as we speak, or so my CV would imply. Continue reading


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Some thoughts on Twitter, and accessibility in science

By Emma Atkinson

I am an undergraduate entering my fourth year in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). I ask a lot of questions, and I love that science rewards my curiosity by giving me a framework to tackle these questions. I love that my early scientific endeavours have taught me the fundamentals of experimental design, techniques, and analysis, and I love that they have also taught me to scuba-dive, drive boats, and hammer a nail (or several hundred…).

More and more, I find myself interested in how the answers to questions we ask as scientists are communicated (to each other, to decision makers, to the public), and how they are (or are not) translated into changes in action and in policy down the road. Perhaps the recent political climate in Canada sparked this interest. Or perhaps it was working in the lab of a professor who writes op-eds telling Justin Trudeau what to do.  In any case, it resulted in my investigating funding options for attending the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) taking place in Ottawa this November. While the organizers make efforts to welcome students including a discounted student rate and volunteer opportunities, it turns out that there are very scant resources for undergraduates seeking to attend conferences – or at least for this particular undergraduate. Continue reading