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Students launch UK’s 1st edition of undergraduate research journal

By Jesi Jones-Bowman 

photo array of students
Aperture is edited and produced by an undergraduate student editorial board of peer editors. 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 21, 2024) — Undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky who participate in research under the guidance of faculty mentors have the opportunity to publish the outcomes of their work and collaborative experiences. The first edition of Aperture Journal of Undergraduate Research launched June 1, highlighting seven student-professor partnerships.

Published by the Office of Undergraduate Research, the open-access, peer- and expert-reviewed journal, which will be published annually, aims to showcase scholarship conducted by UK undergraduates.

“Aperture presents a distinct avenue for undergraduate researchers and their mentors to share the outcomes of the research endeavors to the UK community and, given the digital format, across the globe,” said Chad Risko, faculty director and associate professor of chemistry.

Founded in June 2023 and supported by the undergraduate research office, Aperture is a student-led organization that promotes a culture of curiosity. The Aperture student launch team met weekly and invested hundreds of hours to establish a sustainable undergraduate research journal.

“I have learned so much through the process of launching Aperture,” said Ashbey Manning, a 2024 chemical and biopharmaceutical engineering graduate in the UK Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering and co-editor-in-chief. “One thing I didn’t expect to learn so much about were the legal and intellectual property concerns when launching a new journal. Going through all of the appropriate channels really helped to lay the foundation for a sustainable journal.”

Aside from the executive editorial board, Aperture includes four student committees focused on design, marketing and outreach, editorial review and publication and production. Undergraduates with strong writing skills and an interest in editing and publishing are invited to join the Student Editorial Board. Joining the board offers students opportunities to learn firsthand about producing an online research journal. Learn more about joining the editorial board and committees here.

The projects included in Aperture's first edition are:

  • Simon Boone, 2024 psychology graduate; Mentor: Rachel Farr, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: “Salient Identity Development & Expression Among Diverse Adopted Adolescents.”
  • Riley Droppleman, 2024 biology and English and Lewis Honors College graduate; Mentor: Michelle Sizemore, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: " “‘Terror had exterminated all the sentiments of nature’: Disease and Disruption in Charles Brockden Brown’s ‘Arthur Mervyn; or, Memoirs of the Year 1793’ and the Pandemic Fiction Novel.”
  • Joshua Hinton, 2024 English and political science graduate; Mentor: Michelle Sizemore, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: “Tobacco Farming in Appalachia and Demon Copperhead.”
  • Samuel LeRose, physics senior; Mentor: Christopher Crawford, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: “Design and Implementation of Digital Logic Filtration on Open-Source Field-Programmable Gate Arrays.”
  • Johnna Warkentine, linguistics senior; Mentor: Molly Blasing, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: “The Persistence of Memory in Other Mediums: Creating a Digital Audio Archive of Anastasia Tsvetaeva.”
  • Sophie Wingo, art history and visual studies and Spanish major; Mentor: Anna Brzyski, Ph.D., College of Fine Arts. Project: “‘You ought to see the corridas!’: Normalizing the Franco Regime in the 1960s through Tourism Promotion.”
  • Caroline Youdes, 2024 biology and Lewis Honors College graduate; Mentor: Anthony Bardo, Ph.D., College of Arts and Sciences. Project: “The Fall of Enicidem - A Fairytale & Satire of America’s Response to the Opioid Epidemic.”

Each submission goes through five stages of review. The student’s adviser or principal investigator reviews and approves the paper. Then it goes to the Office of Technology Commercialization’s legal team for review and approval.

Next, Aperture’s editorial team assesses the submission to ensure adherence to the journal’s submission guidelines, checking for errors or inconsistencies. The fourth stage involves a thorough review by graduate students or faculty advisers specializing in the specific research field under discussion.

The final phase of the review process occurs as the editorial team revisits the revised paper, confirming that all necessary changes have been incorporated and ensuring the article is polished and ready for publication.

“By showcasing the extraordinary creativity and ingenuity of undergraduate researchers across all disciplines, the Aperture journal plays an important role in reshaping the perception of research at the University of Kentucky,” said Megan Johnston, a 2024 agricultural and medical biotechnology and Lewis Honors College graduate and co-editor-in-chief. “Aperture enables undergraduate researchers to share their amazing contributions to research and develop effective communication skills, preparing them for their future careers.”

The journal will appear online through ISSUU, an open-access platform. A digital edition of AJUR’s first issue is now available online.

You can learn more about Aperture online.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.