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Student-run magazine ScienceMind continues to impress

ScienceMind is a publication drafted, designed and distributed entirely by King's students. Having recently won Best Specialist Publication in the National Student Publication Awards, this is the story behind the the magazine's continued success.

Looking for an extracurricular activity that would harness his science background but also broaden his career options, Pharmacology student Andres Jaramillo Moyano decided he’d try writing for a student publication. Almost immediately he encountered his first obstacle: King’s official student publication at the time, The Nucleus, was no longer in production.

Undeterred by this hurdle and eager to improve access to reliable COVID-19 information, Andres decided to start a student publication on Pharmacology – his field of study – with an intention to branch out into broader STEM subjects over time. The publication now known as ScienceMind was launched on 1 October 2020 and has published 11 editions since, amassing 104 contributors and a core internal committee of 10 King’s students who manage every aspect of the publication’s production, from writing and editing to design and promotion.

 

ScienceMind arti

Initially launched as a monthly newsletter titled 'The Pharmacologist', the publication was distributed online and provided layman’s summaries of scientific research. Andres recruited contributors via the Pharmacology Society group chat on Whatsapp and was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm for the project. With no prior experience in graphic design Andres had his work set out for him, but he managed to put together The Pharmacologist’s first issue in October 2020. Over the next six months the publication grew in both size and readership - so much so that within six months of its launch it had been shortlisted for 'Best Specialist Publication' in the Student Publication Awards.

Today, my motivation for the publication is very different to its initial concept. I want this magazine to be a creative platform for any and all students at King's who are passionate about STEM. By doing this, we also hope to unite students from all STEM disciplines so that they can make connections and new friendships. We've been able to do this by hosting events such as our STEM Quiz Night and our upcoming STEM Ball in partnership with 6 of the biggest STEM societies at the university.”– Andres Jaramillo Moyano

It was clear that the publication had potential and Andres and his team began a process to ratify it as an official KCLSU society. They also decided to change the publication’s format from a small newsletter to a fully-fledged student magazine, printing its first issue in August 2021 to hand out at the University’s welcome fair. ScienceMind currently has magazine collection points at Guy's, Waterloo and Strand campuses and prints 50 copies per magazine release.

ScienceMind has a unique selling point: it publishes articles aimed at three levels of readership. While its target audience is primarily university students, its authors want to make sure anyone can pick up a copy and read at their desired comfort level. Shallow dive is an article difficulty level intended for a general audience with a secondary school understanding of STEM. Treading water is the second level aimed at those with some science knowledge, including A level students or new undergraduates. Finally, deep dive articles allow writers to conduct deep investigations into discoveries or STEM issues that they’re passionate about. These articles are usually aimed at final year undergraduates, postgraduates, and professors.

This year, we’ve covered articles in 21 different areas of STEM, presenting a wide array of content for our audience. From neuroscience, genetics, and technology to sports science, biotechnology, mycology and business/law, we take pride in allowing our writers to write about areas of STEM we’ve never covered before. Through this, we have inspired readers to consider previously overlooked areas of STEM, which has given them confidence to switch degrees or choose modules they wouldn’t have previously considered. Writers also have the opportunity to conduct interviews with renowned scientists. Our extra pages in each release are dedicated to social issues we support like championing women, BIPOC, LGBT+ and those with disabilities in STEM.”– Andres Jaramillo Moyano

Establishing ScienceMind has not been without its challenges. Andres cites managing complications around the release of the Spring 2022 edition as the greatest difficulty he has encountered as managing editor so far. The team had to move the March release of the publication forward unexpectedly, as well as submit their nominations for the National Student Publication Awards by a similar deadline. To support the design team, Andres designed 13 out of 22 articles in under three days whilst completing the nominations in his spare time. In the end, the magazine issue totalled 100 pages and the team was able to release on time as well as meet their nomination deadline. “To date, it is the most mentally exhausting thing I've ever done”, he reflected.

ScienceMind team

The ScienceMind team at the 2022 STEM Ball 

So far, the team’s hard work has paid off – in mid-March ScienceMind won highly commended at the regional Student Publication Awards and in April they were awarded Best Specialist Publication at the National Student Publication Awards. They also received a Special Mention award for Best Newcomer Publication in the UK.

This is a massive milestone for ScienceMind Magazine. The team have worked incredibly hard over this last year to create these issues and it feels great to finally have some recognition. You can tell just how much love goes into the magazines. We want to be the best student STEM magazine in the United Kingdom and this award has brought us one step closer to that goal. A special thanks to my committee (Rosa, Anouchka, Olivera, Zeta, Drshika, Laia, Zahraa, Jabari, Winnie, Tamara) for all of your support and to my colleagues at Roar News (Marino) and Strand Magazine (Ketki, Josh) for all your advice on this journey.”– Andres Jaramillo Moyano

With a website set to launch soon, Andres has big dreams for ScienceMind. Yet he remains determined to ensuring that participation in the publication is inclusive and flexible. Recognising that students have periods when they are busy, members can choose what issues they'd like to work on ahead of time and are not obligated to work on every issue if they want to take some time out. The team also lets writers choose what they want to write about as they believe artistic freedom is important. When considering new members, they don't hold interviews or ask for samples of previous work or evidence of prior experience. They believe that ScienceMind can give student authors the tools to succeed by teaching them the basics and letting them hone their skills over time.

Looking to the future, the team plans to professionally record interviews for release as a podcast, as well as secure sponsorship to expand the printed magazine. With their eyes set on a few wins at the National Student Publication Awards, we’ll be looking forward to what Andres and his team manage to accomplish next.

ScienceMind NAtional Awards

Members of the ScienceMind team at the National Student Publication Awards

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