First student-run scientific publication connects disciplines

A  new student publication will hit UM stands Monday.

UMiami Scientifica, an undergraduate science magazine, is set to launch Nov. 10. as the first student-run undergraduate scientific magazine in the history of the university.

“Our magazine’s purpose is to serve the University of Miami community, including both undergraduate students and the greater community, by presenting medical, engineering and scientific ideas through the ideals of scientific journalism,” said Scientifica Editor-in-Chief Victoria Pinilla.

Like any other scientific publication, Scientifica sits at a crossroad between science, communication and practical business skills and requires a multidisciplinary effort. The staff currently consists of 44 students from 15 different disciplines and is advised by microbiology and immunology faculty member Roger Williams.

Scientifica is also governed by a board of faculty advisors from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Engineering, the School of Communication, the School of Business and the Miller School of Medicine.

Putting together a student-run publication is a formidable task. Rori Kotch, editor-in-chief of UM’s Distraction Magazine, spoke about the general challenges of the job.

“The main challenge I have faced ​running a student publication is keeping everyone on the same page,” she said. “Having an open flow of communication is hard, but it is a learning experience, and we are always working on being in constant contact.”

Pinilla says she feels that Scientifica has started off strong.

“Through Scientifica, I have seen an overly competitive system transform into a system where students collaborate, discuss material outside of class and have become true friends,” she said.

Scientifica aims to unify students from different schools and encourage cooperation. The magazine will also serve as an additional connection between the undergraduate campus and the medical campus.

It aims to be as inclusive a publication as possible, encompassing research articles, national geography and popular science. It will publish eight different sections, ranging from food science to ethics.

Pinilla was inspired to found Scientifica during her sophomore year while she was on staff for the Ibis Yearbook. She wanted to highlight an HIV vaccine developed by Dr. Geoffrey Stone, M.D., but she realized that the story was unsuitable for a yearbook.

“I started to think about where or in what type of publication on campus [this story] would fit,” she said. “That’s when I thought of Scientifica, a platform that would allow students to build a passion and intellectual curiosity [for innovation].”

She also mentioned that the development of a magazine like Scientifica helps make UM a competitive research university.

“It is important to train our students to be comfortable with asking questions and explaining their knowledge so people outside the field of science will understand,” she said.

Scientifica will publish quarterly issues each year, and copies will be distributed at both the Coral Gables campus and the Miller campus.