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Doing Science

A blog for students who compete

Doing Science

Intel STS, Intel ISEF

SSP alumni launch new inter-collegiate science journal

Doing Science

Julia Zhao holds a copy of the International Collegiate Science Journal  on the grounds of  Rice University's campus. 

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Rojek

Alexandra Rojek, an Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) 2011 semifinalist, is currently an undergraduate at Harvard.

She co-founded the International Collegiate Science Journal (ICSJ) over the past year, with the help of several SSP alumni, including: Malone Locke, Intel ISEF 2007-2008; Abrar Choudhury, Intel STS 2012 semifinalist; Cissy Chen, Intel ISEF 2011; Carrie Sha, Intel STS 2013 semifinalist; and Joyce Kang, Intel STS 2014 finalist.

This phenomenal team of SSP alumni were joined by other undergraduates from nine universities who joined forces to create this new inter-collegiate journal.

We corresponded with Alexandra to hear more about her progress and ICSJ:

Catch us up, where are you now in terms of your education and career?

I am currently a senior at Harvard studying Chemical and Physical Biology, and am starting medical school at the University of California, San Francisco this fall. I hope to continue my research and integrate it with my clinical interests over time, and over the course of my career, to bridge the worlds of research from basic science to biomedicine and using that progress to make a difference for patients. 

Can you share a personal standout moment regarding science and research?
My most meaningful and significant experience with science and research has been my work in the Drummond Lab at the University of Chicago, where I worked on the heat shock response in yeast and protein self-assembly as a novel regulatory mechanism, that then turned into my senior thesis at Harvard.

What was most remarkable about this experience for me was the chance to work on a biological phenomenon that is both so elegantly simple, yet intricately complex in its regulatory implications. That kind of work was something that I never expected I would have the chance to work on, and much less in my undergraduate years. The group of people that I got to work with was truly remarkable, and being part of such an incredibly collaborative and creative lab as the Drummond group is an experience that has forever changed how I approach science and envision the scientific stories that I have the opportunity to work on.  

Tell us about ICSJ. What sparked the idea for the journal?  

ICSJ started with one of our co-founders from Princeton, Stephen Cognetta, reaching out to science publications at other schools, like the Harvard Science Review, about the idea of starting an intercollegiate science journal, to allow us to collaborate and create something more impactful than any of us could do on our own.

From there, we picked up member schools one by one until we ended up with the nine schools that we currently have. The motivation behind putting something like ICSJ together, is an ideal that I think we all share - that of bridging science and the public, of making science captivating and engaging for every reader, while empowering students to share their passion for science on an international scale.

How did you get in touch with so many other SSP program alumni?

The inclusion of so many SSP program alumni in ICSJ happened more by happy chance and was something that we discovered well after founding ICSJ. I think this speaks to the dedication of the students involved in SSP programs to continuing their pursuit of science, and just as importantly, sharing that with others, whether it be through something like ICSJ, or through a range of other fabulous things that I know other SSP program alumni have continued onto as well.

What are the short-term and long-term goals for ICSJ?

In the short-term, we just published our first, inaugural print issue of ICSJ (also available online at icsjournal.org) so we've been busy distributing that around our respective campuses and promoting it, and our next step is putting together a formal, executive board as the first step in institutionalizing ICSJ.

Up to this point, we've functioned as a flat board of co-founders as well as new representatives from each member school, which has worked well for our first year, but for the future of ICSJ we wanted to support its success by having a more institutionalized structure that will also allow us to expand to new member schools and hopefully become a long-lasting community for students interested in science writing and communication.

We want to provide students with an outlet for sharing their passions through the journal, but to also give them the space to come up with innovative ways to expand the impact of ICSJ through having a committed and creative group of international undergraduates to work with.

How did qualifying as an Intel STS semifinalist affect your future in science?

Qualifying as an Intel STS semifinalist gave me the confidence in my future pursuits in science and research. I am grateful and proud of having my early research from high school recognized by Intel STS among so many other qualified high school research students. Even though I continued on to entirely different fields of research during my undergraduate career, I was able to enter that research with the confidence that I had learned how to plan out the scientific process, even if the particular experiments were to be different in my future pursuits.

What advice do you have for young students interested in science and research?

I think the most important thing is to not be afraid to fail in the beginning steps, because in some sense that gives you a more real experience of research, and a better understanding of what is necessary for a successful research experience.

While getting early research experience is a great way to get immersed in what real research is instead of learning from textbooks, I think it's also important for younger students to know that they shouldn't feel that they need to continue working in the same field in the future, and to keep their minds open to new ideas and topics they may not have considered earlier. If anything, exposure to very diverse and varied types of science and research will only enrich their future work and can lead to the most meaningful and influential experiences for them.

Are you an alumnus of a SSP educational program with something to share? Email SSP's alumni coordinator, Carolyn Carson!

4:30am, April 22, 2015

Every year, middle school science enthusiasts across the country vie for top prizes at their regional science fair. At affiliated fairs, the top 10% of students receive an incredible opportunity- a nomination to apply for Broadcom MASTERS!

We contacted a few regional fairs that had standout application rates in 2014 to hear their tips for encouraging Broadcom MASTERS nominees to submit applications online. 

3:48pm, April 21, 2015

We bet you probably didn't know that by the time young women go to college, only 3% of them will declare a major in engineering, according to the Department of Education. 

On Thursday, April 23, SSP President and CEO Maya Ajmera will join Broadcom Foundation's President and Executive Director Paula Golden in Irvine, California to discuss filling in the gaps of STEM education for young women. 

Read more on the SSP blog

4:30am, April 2, 2015

Maria Elena Grimmett, a two-time Broadcom MASTERS Finalist (2011 – 2012) and two-time Intel ISEF Grand Award Winner (2013 – 2014), traveled to Cambridge University in England during mid-March to explore scientific discovery and its influence on literature. 

By Andrew Bridges 2:25pm, March 30, 2015

When it came to getting into the White House Science Fair, Holly Jackson had it all sewed up. Nikhil Behari, too, had just the right touch. And as for meeting President Barack Obama in person, it sent chills running up and down Harry Paul’s spine.

1:55pm, March 26, 2015

Eleven Society for Science & the Public alumni filled the  5th White House Science Fair with their inspiring research this past Monday, March 23. President Obama spoke with many of them, expressing pride for the hard work and brilliant innovations our alumni have created. 

Here are some fun photos from the day: 

4:06pm, March 23, 2015

“This is the fifth White House science fair and every year I walk out smarter than when I came in," President Obama said in his final remarks at the White House Science Fair. 

3:52pm, March 17, 2015

After a whirlwind week full of judging, presenting their projects, and networking with some of the brightest researchers in the country, the Intel Science Talent Search finalists were on their way to the Awards Gala. Check out some of our photos from the event below:

9:20pm, March 10, 2015

Noah Golowich, Andrew Jin and Michael Hofmann Winer each received first-place awards of $150,000 at the Intel Science Talent Search 2015, a program of Society for Science & the Public.

Noah Golowich, 17, of Lexington, Mass. won the Medal of Distinction for Basic Research, for developing a proof in the area of Ramsey theory, a field of mathematics based on finding types of structure in large and complicated systems.

8:18pm, March 9, 2015

The Intel Science Talent Search Public Exhibition of Projects 2015 was a hit! The finalists enjoyed sharing their hard work and knowledge with a large crowd of eager visitors, young and old. Here's a look at some snapshots of the finalists throughout the busy day.  

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