NU SCI Magazine

Student-​​produced magazine strives to make science more accessible

by Molly Callahan

The theme of the most recent issue of NU Sci, Northeastern’s student-​​run sci­ence mag­a­zine, is “Rivalry,” a nod to its pub­li­ca­tion after an espe­cially con­tentious pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. To pull it off, how­ever, more than 50 stu­dents needed to work together to write, edit, design, and market the magazine.

Throughout the year, stu­dents report on com­pli­cated sci­en­tific issues both hap­pening at North­eastern and in the world at large, and then write about them in a way that is acces­sible to the layperson. These arti­cles even­tu­ally find homes in the mag­a­zine, either in its twice-​​per-​​semester print edi­tion or online.

A dozen writers—students pas­sionate about science—work with a dozen edi­tors to tell com­pelling science-​​related sto­ries and a team of designers sets out to bring those sto­ries to life on the page. Then another team of stu­dents mar­kets the final product to ensure the staff’s hard work is spread as far and wide as possible.

Mag­a­zine pres­i­dent Cayman Somerville, S’17, began writing for the pub­li­ca­tion during her freshman year, when it was still printed in grayscale and com­piled by a skeleton staff of roughly 10 students.

“Our mis­sion is to talk about sci­ence affairs at North­eastern as well as rel­e­vant sci­ence topics and make it digestible for anyone to read,” she said. “It’s pro­duced by people who are pas­sionate about sci­ence, but it’s really for anyone to enjoy.”

In fact, Somerville credits a mag­a­zine assign­ment her freshman year with “changing the course” of her North­eastern career.

Then a writer for NU Sci, Somerville inter­viewed Matthews Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Chem­istry Geof­frey Davies for an article on Davies’ open access sci­en­tific journal. Davies ulti­mately became her mentor, advising both her and the mag­a­zine staff in their endeavors.

As a bud­ding envi­ron­mental sci­en­tist, Somerville said working on the mag­a­zine has sharp­ened her focus on the need to spread aware­ness of the haz­ards of global warming.

“Sci­en­tists aren’t the only ones who are going to make a dif­fer­ence regarding global cli­mate change; every­body else has to under­stand the issues and under­stand how they can help,” she said.

NU Sci’s 29th issue is out now, fea­turing arti­cles on topics ranging from stem cell research to inva­sive species, from drug naming con­ven­tions to the Zika virus. But the release of the publication’s newest edi­tion doesn’t mean the stu­dents behind it can rest on their laurels—the 30th issue is already underway and set for pub­li­ca­tion by the end of the fall semester.

Fer­nanda Fiszner, AMD’20, is one of the magazine’s two chief mar­keting offi­cers, with a par­tic­ular focus on the publication’s design. Working at the mag­a­zine, she said, has been ful­filling even without a sci­ence background.

“I don’t have a lot to do with sci­ence, but it’s moti­vating to work on a stu­dent mag­a­zine where stu­dents can show off their work,” she said. “It’s really stu­dents bringing in the skills they have and applying what they know how to do best in a col­lab­o­ra­tive environment.”

Picking up a copy of the latest issue from a stack at the Curry Stu­dent Center on Wednesday, Fiszner said, “Putting this mag­a­zine together takes effort from everyone. When you hold the final mag­a­zine in your hand, you know everyone con­tributed to it, and you know everyone’s skills came together, and it’s just a really rewarding experience.”

Originally published in news@Northeastern on December 2, 2016.The cover of the latest NU Sci magazine

College of Science