Frederric Kelada spent his four years at Rutgers in constant motion: he was a teaching assistant for a physics class, a researcher in a neuroscience psychology lab, and a volunteer for a campus crisis response team.
Yet on top of all that, he managed to co-found the first undergraduate research journal at Rutgers to publish student papers from any academic discipline. The first two issues of the journal were published this year.
“It seemed like a huge failure for Rutgers to be such a great research school and not have an undergraduate research journal,” says Kelada, a major in cell biology and neuroscience who hopes to attend medical school. .
Kelada and his friend Prachi Srivastava, a biology and psychology graduate, were both working in research labs the summer after their freshman year when they decided Rutgers needed an undergraduate interdisciplinary research journal. Their first step was to contact the Aresty Research Center for assistance in providing the necessary support for the creation of the journal.
“They really must have figured out what it’s like to start a journal from start to finish as undergraduates,” says Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez, director of the center, which facilitates undergraduate research. . But she added: “Contrary to the fate of many previous attempts to create a research journal, the new journal is here to stay. “
While many universities have undergraduate research journals, what sets the Aresty Rutgers Undergraduate Research Journal (RURJ) apart is that it uses a peer review program run by student facilitators, says Brevard-Rodriguez. Undergraduates who wished to work on the journal met weekly during the fall semester with Aresty’s advanced undergraduate trainers, visiting faculty members, and professional staff to learn how to review articles. of research.
In the first round, four to six undergraduates reviewed each article individually, and then in pairs and groups, they discussed what changes they would recommend to the author. Then at least one graduate student and one faculty member read the article and suggested other edits the author could incorporate. The final phase of the review was to send each article to a student copy editor.
The first issue of RURJ was published last December with six articles, ranging from the effects of antidepressant treatment on mice to the impact of diet and physical activity at the Rutgers’ Cook campus on eating habits and student exercise. The second edition of the journal will appear in May.
During the preparations for the journal’s launch, Kelada was seen as a leader capable of motivating students to achieve their goal of publishing the first issue on time, says Brevard-Rodriguez.
“When emails came in and people met in person, Fred was the driving force to make sure things got done,” says Brevard-Rodgriguez. “He’s the one who really stayed on top of all the stages and made sure that nobody lost sight of what the goals were. He was very persistent. “
Srivastava says the diary turned out to be a much bigger project than she originally imagined. “When we first came up with the idea, I thought it would just be this website that we would run with a small group of students,” she says. “Now hundreds of people know that and we have a mailing list of almost 600 people. “
Kelada says the experience of creating the journal has taught her several lessons, including why it is beneficial to include a diverse group of students in the project. “A lot of what made RURJ great was that we got a lot of ideas from different types of people, which was great because we needed as many ideas as possible to contribute to the founding of the journal. “
Having a team to help make decisions and learn to trust members was also essential in teaching Kelada to delegate tasks to students who had skills in other areas.
After graduating, Kelada, who lives in Basking Ridge, will continue to work as a rehabilitation technician in a physiotherapy practice before applying to medical school. He also hopes to stay involved with the review over the coming year.
“I’ve been doing this for so long and it’s such a big part of my life,” he says. “Looking at everything we’ve done we’re so proud of ourselves and it’s so amazing because we never thought we would get here. ”