A Brief History of Catalyst


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The engine of innovation never stops at Rice University. In 2002, a group of students recognized the need for a scientific publication focused on undergraduates. Professional scientific journals expect a high level of prior knowledge and grasp of field specific jargon, but popular science publications skim over the experimental methodology and results and focus on speculation and far-off applications. Undergraduates, especially those majoring in the natural sciences and engineering, are excited about research, but daunted by the prospect of wading through pages and pages of jargon and looking through a chain of reverse citations to find an article that actually describes the experimental protocol in detail.

From these ideals, a publication of reviews of research done by undergraduates was formed. Through this publication, we hoped to create a forum for thoughtful discussion among peers and to be a resource for undergraduates interested in just starting out in research. Unfortunately, for a short time the project failed to gain traction. Focused on a great goal, the project was brought down by a lack of sustainability and rapid student turn-over.

In the fall of 2007, Yejin Kang, Yohan Moon, David Ouyang, and Lisa Sun, appreciating the inherent value of such a publication, revived the project. With the experience and understanding to avoid the obstacles faced by the original editorial staff, this group has implemented a general make-over. For a casual reader, a few of the key things to notice are:
1. The addition of discussion/editorials of the recent scientific discoveries along with the bread and butter of review articles.
2. Interviews with prominent scientists and policy makers that influence the fields of research discussed.
3. A focus on sustainability and greater emphasis on faculty input and involvement.
4. Biannual publications for both the fall and spring semesters.
The first issue of the revitalized Catalyst - Rice Undergraduate Science Review will be available on April 15, 2008. With your support, who knows what heights we can reach?

-Febuary 10, 2008-