The University’s first undergraduate research journal can
be found in residence halls and libraries across campus starting
this week.

The entirely student-run Undergraduate Research Forum features
articles by undergraduates involved in academic research ranging
from engineering to law.

“The purpose here is for those students who want to go
through the process of actually writing a fully refereed journal
article to do that as undergraduates,” said University Vice
President for Research Fawwaz Ulaby at a kickoff event held in
Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall Friday afternoon.

“It’s a very rare experience, it’s a learning
experience, it’s a tremendous experience,” he said.

Ulaby said a group of students, led by Engineering junior and
journal editor in chief Wei Gu, approached him with the idea for
the journal a year and a half ago. The students, who had met each
other through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program in
Residence, asked Ulaby for guidance and funding for the
project.

Ulaby’s office agreed to provide $6,000 for the journal,
which is also sponsored by UROP, Women in Science and Engineering
and other campus administrative groups.

According to its web page, the journal is a nontechnical
publication aimed at communicating research to a broad
audience.

“For the undergraduates who read our journal, they are
getting a further insight into the diverse research opportunities
on this campus,” Gu said.

The first issue sports a photo collage of campus laboratories
and research buildings on its cover. Its pages include a wide
variety of student-written articles, from original undergraduate
research on cancer, international law, human hormonal systems and
child development, to short synopses of this year’s most
important research findings at the University. Research-oriented
letters to the editor are also printed.

Although the editorial board is currently largely comprised of
engineering and science students, Gu said there are many humanities
articles in the journal as well. “We’re trying to be as
multidisciplinary as we can.”

When a student submits an article for publication in the
journal, the student editorial board first reviews it for content
and style, Gu explained. A faculty reviewer then checks the
submission for technical accuracy.

UROP Director Sandy Gregerman, who co-advises the journal with
WISE Director Cinda-Sue Davis, emphasized that students did most of
the work to bring the journal together over the past year.

“It’s all volunteer,” she said.
“They’ve worked long and hard doing this.”

The Undergraduate Research Forum joins the ranks of only a small
number of undergraduate research journals in the nation, Gregerman
said, including similar publications currently produced by
undergraduates at Stanford University, the California Institute of
Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ulaby said the University’s support for the journal is a
way for it to show its commitment to undergraduate education.

“We have many avenues for graduate students to publish the
results of their research, not only in the form of the theses they
write but in professional journals,” he said.
“Undergraduates do not have an outlet today for publishing
research, scholarly work. This (journal) makes it
possible.”

Engineering junior Shahzad Zafar, the journal’s internal
relations representative, has big ideas regarding the
journal’s eventual impact. He manages distribution for the
publication and plans to give copies to the University’s
undergraduate admissions and to local high schools. Copies will
also be sent to interested libraries at other universities.

“We’ll take it out to high schools … to get
high school students excited about research,” he said.
“Our goal is, besides increasing interest in research here at
the University, to get other people excited about undergraduate
research — and maybe some other universities might also start
such a journal.”

The journal is currently looking for students to serve on its
editorial board, work in graphics and publicity and contribute
articles. A full copy of the first issue is available at University
libraries, residence halls and academic departments, as well as on
the journal’s web page, www.umich.edu/~umforum.

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