Introducing the 2016-17 submission guidelines!

Just a couple of days ago I (Emma) registered our journal for its very own ISSN! I will be the first to admit that I was more than a little excited. With the release of our first issue just around the corner (details of a launch event soon to come!), we are already ramping up for the 2016-17 cycle.

We will begin accepting submissions as of September 6th, 2016, and with that in mind we have released an updated set of submission guidelines for the upcoming cycle. The full set of guidelines can be found on our website or downloaded directly here.

A couple of important changes to note:

  1. Rolling Submissions: This cycle, SFU SURJ will be adopting a rolling submissions system. Manuscripts will be evaluated by editors as they are received. If conditionally accepted, submissions will immediately enter the peer review process. Articles will be released digitally throughout the months leading up to the release of a print publication in September 2017, compiling the articles together. The final deadline to submit for the 2016-17 cycle is January 13th, 2017.
  2. Research articles: The primary goal of our journal is to foster and feature undergraduate research in a positive, educational environment. With this in mind, we have clarified our requirements of research articles. Research submitted to SFU SURJ must be original and scientifically sound, but it need not necessarily be novel. Negative results, replication studies, etc will accepted. This policy is similar to that of journals like PLOS ONE.

After a first year during which we were delighted to read about the wonderful research being conducted by undergraduates, we are looking forward to the next round of submissions! If you have any questions about our submission guidelines, drop us a line at, and stay tuned for the 2015-16 issue headed your way.

Curating an Education

By Clare Atkinson

As undergrads, when we talk about our lives – the jobs, experiences, opportunities, classes – the conversations regularly turns to the resume. An experience’s value can be judged by its appearance, or lack thereof, on the official document of your education. This categorization of education into the official, which we schedule and earn, or the intrinsic, which is ever-occurring and unrecognized, does the double duty of fragmenting a life-long thread of acquired knowledge and alienating young people from building a sense of self education.

I’m 20. That number doesn’t inspire a whole lot of self-confidence in the significance of my perspective, but I am getting educated as we speak, or so my CV would imply.Read More »

Some thoughts on Twitter, and accessibility in science

By Emma Atkinson

I am an undergraduate entering my fourth year in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). I ask a lot of questions, and I love that science rewards my curiosity by giving me a framework to tackle these questions. I love that my early scientific endeavours have taught me the fundamentals of experimental design, techniques, and analysis, and I love that they have also taught me to scuba-dive, drive boats, and hammer a nail (or several hundred…).

More and more, I find myself interested in how the answers to questions we ask as scientists are communicated (to each other, to decision makers, to the public), and how they are (or are not) translated into changes in action and in policy down the road. Perhaps the recent political climate in Canada sparked this interest. Or perhaps it was working in the lab of a professor who writes op-eds telling Justin Trudeau what to do.  In any case, it resulted in my investigating funding options for attending the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) taking place in Ottawa this November. While the organizers make efforts to welcome students including a discounted student rate and volunteer opportunities, it turns out that there are very scant resources for undergraduates seeking to attend conferences – or at least for this particular undergraduate.Read More »

SFU SURJ reveals the cover image of its inaugural issue!

Is it seriously June already? Emma here, editor of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal (SFU SURJ). I am writing this post from a floating cabin in the middle of the Broughton Archipelago where I am spending my field season investigating the leaping behaviour of juvenile Pacific salmon as part of an undergraduate research project. It may or may not have been six days since I last showered, but more on that in a later blog post…

In the hubbub of final exams, papers, and last minute trips to MEC to buy the thickest wool socks I could find, this poor ol’ blog got a little neglected. But fear not! I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats waiting for the big reveal, and so finally here is the winner of the SFU SURJ Cover Contest. We received a number of beautiful submissions, making the decision a tough one, but in the end it came down to Tessa Morin’s watercolour painting, inspired by Golgi stained pyramidal neurons:Cover Contest 2.jpg

The manuscripts for our first issue are currently going through final rounds of peer review and copy-editing, and we’ll be working hard throughout the summer to compile them for release in September. In the meantime, have a look the other wonderful cover submissions we received and stay tuned for a dispatch from the first month of my field project.

Submission from Devon Oakander:Cover Contest 3.pdf.jpg

Submission from Natalie Chow:

Cover Contest 1.jpg

Leading Change with Sustainable Literacy

By Ranah Chavoshi
Edited by Franki Katz

Every two years, individuals uniquely positioned in their fields to make a difference in sustainability meet at the bi-annual conference GLOBE 2016. This conference is preceded by a youth conference called Leading Change which is designed for individuals who are actively working to become the change-makers who inspire others in the sustainability movement. This spring I was fortunate enough to attend both conferences. There,  I was inspired to see so many other young leaders and thinkers working towards the common goal of reducing carbon emissions and phasing out our reliance on oil and its products. My fellow delegates came from across Canada with a wide diversity of backgrounds. Among these business professionals, experts in law, sociology, and applied scientists, there was a high proportion of of environmental and fundamental scientists present. Contrary to Leading Change, GLOBE had a  low count of scientists among the attendants and low representation on panels and speakers as well.Read More »

HERstory: Writing Women Back into Science

By Alisha Ward

Why is it that whenever you ask anyone to name a famous scientist they are almost always men? You get answers like Einstein, Newton, Darwin, etc. If you ask specifically for female scientists people will usually know Marie Curie along with maybe Rosalind Franklin or Ada Lovelace, but they’re unlikely to be able to name any more than that. Seriously, there must have been way more than three female scientists. How is it that those are the only names we know?  It certainly wasn’t because women weren’t pursuing science, in fact there were quite a few notable women in scientific fields long before it was “socially acceptable” for women to be scientists. It was mostly due to women being actively unwritten from science contributions. Their work was overlooked, underfunded, and in many cases even claimed as the product of another (always male) scientist.Read More »

Why you should care about gravitational waves

By Jesse Velay-Vitow

On the 11th of February, the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) released confirmation that they had direct detection of gravitational waves. What followed was a lot of phycisists cheering excitedly and many people knowing that something important had obviously happened, but not quite sure about its relevance. Hopefully this blog post will shed some light on why everyone should be excited about this.Read More »

Exit Signs

By Tomas Rapaport

I have two things to do tonight. 1. Write up a Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) Exit Report for incoming executives and 2. Write a blog post which my fellow Executive Editor has been asking for the last few weeks. As I sat down to do task #2, I realized that as a science student I have developed a built-in inability for inefficiency and instead of continuing to research the factors which contribute to young customers’ enjoyment of coffee shops and revisit expectations (you can find research on nearly anything online!), I decided to write up the exit report, and post an excerpt of it on here instead. Some may call me lazy, but in all honesty, as I wrote the report I realized that its contents have just as much to do with being a science student as any analytically designed and cited paper I could ever produce. Thus, here is the introduction to Tomas Rapaport’s SUS exit report:Read More »

Announcing the SFU SURJ Cover Contest!


So here we are, nearing the end of February with March around the corner. We are delighted to report that papers are out to peer review and the first reviews are even starting to trickle back in. With the first edition of the journal getting closer to being a reality, the editors at SURJ have begun thinking about fun things like what we want the journal to look like.

With that in mind, we are reaching out to all the talented design folks at SFU (we know you’re out there!) to send in your submissions for the cover of the 2015-16 SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal. Submissions can be science-related photography, art, or design. Send your 8.5″ by 11″ design in as a PDF to We will overlay the text afterwards, so don’t worry about anything other than your wonderful science-inspired art! Check out the Facebook event here.

All submissions will be featured on our blog following selection of the winning design. The winner will be featured in the 2015-2016 online publication and print publication of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal.

Contest Deadline: March 17th, 2016.
Questions? Hit us up at!

Why Science Can’t Give You All the Answers

By Sean La

When I was in high school, I was a scientismist. Not a scientist (I was quite the mediocre student in Science 10). No, I was a scientismist, I believed in scientism. Scientism is the belief that the only sure way to understand the world is through the scientific method [1].

To me, science was the answer. Every phenomenon could be reduced. Culture is herd behaviour. War is natural selection. Love is chemistry. And religion is adaptation. To me, science was the word and to suggest otherwise was blasphemy.

And physics and math were the most powerful because of the power of their predictions.

But as I grew a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I made two great observations about science: there are things you can’t know, and there are things you can’t know to know.

Things you can’t know.Read More »