USURJ publishes student research exploring life on Mars

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Not only is the University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal showcasing student research, but they are also encouraging first-year students to submit their work, following a first-year class project that will be published in the upcoming issue.

Danielle Schlehahn with fellow authors Brette Langman, Braden Kowalchuk and Jason Worobec, pictured from left to right.

USURJ is celebrating the fourth volume of their publication and the diverse research that students are conducting across all colleges and disciplines on campus. One of the upcoming research papers, included in the forthcoming December issue, explores the possibility of living and producing food on Mars, a project that resulted from group research conducted in a first-year astronomy course.

Tara Chambers, a PhD student in the department of English and the graduate student editor-in-chief of USURJ, believes there are many benefits for students who submit their papers to USURJ, including scholarly communication.

“Undergraduates who submit their work are exposed to the publication process that most scholarly journals follow and a majority of undergraduates never get to experience while learning how to write a professional publication for an expert audience,” Chambers said, in an email to the Sheaf.

USURJ is an online, peer­reviewed scholarly journal that published its first issue in 2014. USURJ publishes U of S undergraduate student research and review articles in various categories, such as health sciences, humanities and fine arts, natural sciences, social sciences and interdisciplinary fields.

Danielle Schlehahn, a first-year veterinary medicine student, is one of six authors who worked on the group astronomy article titled “Can a Greenhouse Be Established on Mars?” that will be in the upcoming issue. She explains the positive experience of being a published writer with USURJ.

“I was not familiar with the USURJ or the publishing process, but they were excellent in helping step by step and simplifying the process. When it was all finished, it was a really great feeling to have something published showcasing our hard work,” Schlehahn said, in an email to the Sheaf.

The article was a group project conducted for the class Astronomy 104: Astronomy of Planets, an elective Schlehahn took for her undergraduate degree. Schlehahn explains that she was asked to research a planet of her own choosing, along with Braden Barber, Brette Langman, Braden Kowalchuk, Jason Worobec and Alyssa Boudreau, and the group decided to write on establishing a greenhouse on Mars.

“Our project … explains the environmental conditions of Mars and how we could potentially alter these conditions to grow food for a hypothetical colonization of the planet. Some of our group members chose to take our background in agriculture and adapt it to Mars conditions,” Schlehahn said.

U of S alumni are also eligible to publish their work in the journal but only if they submit their undergraduate research within two years of graduating. Both current students and alumni can submit their work through the USURJ website to be considered for publication.

Schlehahn discusses her experience of working with the journal and recommends that other students submit their work.

“Publishing our paper was a great feeling of accomplishment. It was a surprisingly manageable process, [and] I would highly recommend it to any students thinking about starting the submission process,” Schlehan said.

USURJ will host a public reception to celebrate the December 2017 issue in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4. USURJ publishes one issue at the end of each academic term, and then,  at the end of the academic year, the best papers from both issues are awarded cash prizes.

Chambers explains that, with three published volumes and a forthcoming issue, USURJ is committed to showing the world the culture of undergraduate research on campus.

“Interdisciplinarity and strong working relationships between faculty and students [are] vital to the success of [the] U of S as an institution, and USURJ has been and will continue to be a champion of both.”

Photo and text: Jaline Broqueza