Members of STEMTalk gathered Thursday night to celebrate the release of the inaugural issue of UConn’s first STEM magazine.
STEMTalk is a student run magazine at UConn that aims to report current news and opinions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and medicine to students across campus.
The magazine contains articles written by student journalists about topics useful to the average university student including information about STEM opportunities and developments both globally and on campus, advice on various careers in the STEM field, and interviews held with professors and research faculty. It also contains photographs taken by student photographers, and the entire issue was designed by student graphic designers.
The magazine and corresponding club began as an idea of the current executive board, Feny Rasania (president), Divya Ganugapati (vice-president), Katherine Sypher, (secretary), Lysette Johnson (treasurer) and Sanjanaa Sushanth (public relations).
“We are all women pursuing careers in STEM,” said Rasania, “Which is something we talk about in this issue.”
According to Ganugapati and Sypher, anyone can contribute and get involved in the production of the magazine. After coming up with the pitch for the magazine and taking the summer to develop their idea and goals, the club hit the ground running by recruiting members at the Involvement Fair in the fall of 2016.
Open-applications were advertised on platforms such as The Daily Digest, and once the staff was together, they spent time working to develop their styles. The club is accessible to anyone.
“We have a range of majors, years, and experience. Everyone is involved, from Engineering students to English majors,” said Ganugapati, a fourth semester cognitive science major.
“We hope to reach, not only UConn students interested in STEM, obviously that’s our biggest thing, but all UConn students. We hope the magazine can unify across colleges, schools and departments. It’s writing, graphic design and photography, not just STEM,” said Sypher, also a fourth-semester cognitive science major.
This particular issue took about four months to create, but the staff is hoping to eventually become a bi-semester publication. “Right now, we are very new and just getting ourselves established so we will probably aim for once a semester until we have revenue coming in,” said Ganugapati.
STEMTalk, while expressing immense gratitude for their initial funding from the UConn IDEA Grant, as well as support from their advisor, Dr. Kristen Govoni and Melissa Berkey, of the IDEA Grant, hope to start selling ads to local restaurants and businesses.
According to Ganugapati and Sypher, they owe much of their success to the support of staff, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the persistence of the STEM community. Currently, the magazine is being distributed for free and will be available to be picked up around campus on Monday, including the library, all science buildings and the Student Union.
The content of the magazine is subjective to it the individual writers’ interests, although there is a focus on current affairs. In this first issue, for example, they include articles on politics and mental health, relevant after the recent election. This liberty was part of the appeal to journalists and staff members on the magazine.
“My interest in STEM made me join. It’s been a brand new experience. It’s really interesting to see what other writers contribute,” said Heather Lewis, a second-semester bio-medical engineering major.
“The fact that it was a new magazine was attractive. As a freshman, that’s big,” said Delaney Meyer, a second-semester civil engineering major. “It’s nice to write about what you want.” Both girls are signed up to contribute to the next issue in 2017.
“I’m no longer intimidated by writing. As a STEM major, it’s given me confidence past writing lab reports and research papers,” said Lewis.
“This magazine means so much to us, especially to its founders,” said Rasania. “One thing we [the STEM community] have in common is that we are able to observe the world around us through a set of different eyes. We embrace everything around us and…the intricate details of how everything works. Our enthusiasm and love for STEM needed an outlet. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to think. Our raw idea turned into this media platform.”
About the future of the magazine, all the executive board members hope to see it grow and flourish. They are still welcoming new writers and contributors.
“We are excited that we came into this as underclassmen and that we are able to watch it grow. Hopefully, we can send it off as upperclassmen when it’s a stronger, more solidified publication,” said Sypher.
They have recently created more leadership positions in an effort to bolster involvement.
Julia Mancini is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.