Undergrads Now Have Research Voice

December 12, 2008

Pediatric crash test dummy design. Snow pack depth measurements. Aeroelasticity of folding wings. Harvesting energy from ocean waves.

All are examples of important cutting–edge research being conducted by engineers around the world. They are also telling examples of the breadth and depth of the research being published by young engineers-to-be at the Pratt School of Engineering in their own new journal.

After two years of planning and development, a new on-line journal published by Pratt undergraduates for Pratt undergraduates is live and looking for submissions. It has been dubbed JUPITER, short for the Journal of Undergraduate Publications in Technology and Engineering Research.

As the first on-line publication at Duke focused solely on research conducted by Pratt undergraduates, the journal not only provides a common area for students to share their research interests and findings, it gives them an early experience with the world of scientific publications.

jupiter“The percentage of faculty and students who work together on undergraduate research here is truly extraordinary, with up to 100 percent of faculty in some departments guiding the research of Pratt Fellows,” said Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke Pratt School of Engineering. “Now this research has an additional home in the form of JUPITER, providing an outlet for research as well as giving valuable, practical experience to students in communicating their technical accomplishments.”

For all intents and purposes, JUPITER operates the same as other scientific journals. Students submit their work according to pre-set guidelines, and the writings are reviewed by an anonymous group of diverse editors who constructively critique the style and content of the submission. The journal went live in November.

“JUPITER is designed to be a dynamic and continually updated journal,” said Martha Absher, associate dean and JUPITER director, who worked closely with students in bringing the journal to life. “All Pratt undergraduates now have a vehicle for communicating with each other about their research, and I encourage all undergraduates to consider publishing in JUPITER.”

The initial idea for such a journal began two years ago when Andrew Longenecker (Pratt ’07) approached Absher about starting such a publication. As the two planned the journal, Neha Krishnamohan (Pratt ’08) and current senior Mary Ellen Koran, came on board the following year as chief editors to help move the publication along.

Junior Patrick Ye joins Koran as this year’s chief editors. Both are biomedical engineering majors.

“JUPITER provides a great opportunity for students to tell other students about their research and what they are learning,” said Koran, a Sarasota, Fla., native who also serves as the president of the Engineering Student Government (ESG). “It also provides an outlet for those who want to write about their research in preparation for grad or medical school.”

Ye, a Westmont, Ill., native and ESG executive vice president, said the student submissions will be reviewed by experienced and knowledgeable eyes.

“We have more than 20 editors who have volunteered to review submissions, including faculty members, graduate students and alumni,” Ye said. “For many undergraduates, this can be the first opportunity for them to write about research, and they should gain insights into effectively communicating science from the editors’ comments.”

The journal is accepting three types of submissions, each with their own set of requirements.

For those students who just want to let the Pratt community what they are working on, there are the Research Updates. These are typically 250-word paragraphs giving a brief overview of the research and its progress.

For more formal submissions, but not to the level of full-fledged journal articles, JUPITER will also publish Research Abstracts. At 500 words, this option goes into more detail about the goals of the research, as well as methods, results and conclusions.

The most rigorous type of submission is the Research Paper, which is the most like articles published in other scientific journals. These submissions follow the traditional journal format.

The editors will also work with students and faculty members to coordinate the issue of first rights should the research findings be considered for later publication in other journals. According to Absher, faculty members have been highly supportive of the journal and its mission.

“The publication of research results is the life-blood of science,” Absher said. “If you don’t make findings public, no one will know about them. JUPITER offers students the ability to get an early start in the process of bringing new engineering knowledge to the world.”