Mission Statement

My name is Sonjiala Jackson-Hotchkiss, and I am the editor-in-chief at STEMPunk.comSTEMPunk.com is in active development. Just as Google launched a beta version of Gmail prior to full release, we are launching our beta version of STEMPunk. I am excited to share the development of this student-run science magazine with the public.

While there has been much discussion about the pros and cons of public development, such transparency is especially appropriate for STEMPunk.com. I have always found that transparency adds to comfortableness in an environment, particularly multicultural ones.  StemPunk.com will work to support inclusiveness and diversity in science. STEMPunk.com will add to the transparency of scientific research and STEM studies by taking a look at what scientists do and how do they do it, which rules scientists use to construct research projects, which ethical guidelines scientists follow, and what inspires scientists to all these things. These guidelines, these industry codes, provide a language, a guidebook that cuts across cultural differences.  Codes, theories, and standards are not a complete language, but they crystallize a commonality that everyone can come at from different backgrounds and experiences and perspectives.

I will share my study habits, and the study habits of those more advanced than I. This is an example of how STEMPunk.com will reveal how we as student scientists work. STEMPunk.com will be a community. Rather than just reporting facts to passive readers, the STEMPunk community will explore topics together as a community.  STEMPunkers will share their study habits for a week, a month, a term in Journal Your Studying.  I will provide an example of this next weekend as I am refining my study habits for the semester.

I have this vision of walking around with a portable writing surface to work math and science problems on the sidewalk and film the conversations started with anyone, but with young, potential scientists especially.  Talking spontaneously with people is not a strong skill of mine.  I think of it as a way of making scientists and STEM students from underrepresented groups more visible. Taking the focus away from my fear and anxiety and placing it on providing a demonstration for someone who is not used to seeing people who look like me in STEM will help me develop my spontaneous speaking skills.

At the end of my current educational path, I will be a research scientist, but when I was younger I did not know that to be a thing to say.  I had many good role models in my rural Mississippi hometown that taught me basic study skills, perseverance, what it is to have standards, but research scientist was not a commonly mentioned career aspiration.  Though I had read about research scientists by the time I entered college, I still never pictured myself in that role.  STEMPunk.com will provide examples for students:

  • This is the type of student I want to be.
  • This is the type of work I want to do.
  • This is the list of short-term goals, intermediate goals, and long-term goals to becoming a research scientist or doctor or engineer or social scientist or mathematician.

I am still interviewing people and recruiting people to write articles, but I will start my weekly development blog posts now. I have an interview scheduled this month with the principal investigator from lab where I had a summer research internship.  I will share here some of the ways I have prepared for this interview.  Transparency is a good for me as an individual STEMPunker and it is good for STEMPunk.comSTEMPunk.com is about learning how to do it. Follow the progress as I and other editors and contributors try new things, acquire new skills, and learn new techniques.

If you would like to contribute by being interviewed, making suggestion, or providing content, please Contact Us!

Sonjiala Jackson-Hotchkiss

Sonjiala (SON-ja-la) is currently pursuing an MS degree in chemistry at UC San Diego. As a member of the Bridges to Baccalaureate Program at San Diego Mesa College, her research in organic chemistry includes the synthesis of fatty acid esters of vitamin C that will be tested for their ability to inhibit glycolytic enzymes. In an additional research project she uses analytical chemistry techniques to determine the composition of World War II era California pottery.

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