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Student-produced magazine strives to make science more accessible

Cayman Somerville, S'17, president of the student-run magazine, NU Sci, hands a copy to Paul Lawson, E'17, in the Curry Student Center at on Wednesday. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

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.

NU Sci is "produced by people who are passionate about science, but it’s really for anyone to enjoy," says magazine president Cayman Somerville, S'17

NU Sci is “produced by people who are passionate about science, but it’s really for anyone to enjoy,” says magazine president Cayman Somerville, S’17

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.

Putting this magazine together takes effort from everyone. When you hold the final magazine in your hand, you know everyone contributed to it.
— Fernanda Fiszner, AMD’20, co-chief marketing officer at NU Sci

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.”

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