Letter From JYI Co-Founder Brian Su

Author:  Dr. Brian Su
Institution:  Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Date:  June 2005

Dear Friends,

It is with great excitement to address you as The Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) publishes its 100th research article. JYI began when Andrew Medina-Marino observed that undergraduate student researchers learn far too late how to write and publish science. This concept, with the help of four other students was made a reality in 1997. Nature magazine in describing the founding of JYI highlighted the scene of five undergraduate students who locked themselves up in a Baltimore hotel for hours to construct the mission statement for an undergraduate research journal. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The statement as signed by the five of us was only two pages long but very clearly stated the intention of creating a venue that would help undergraduates understand the process of scientific writing, review, and publication.

By the time we established the infrastructure, obtained funding, and recruited the original editorial staff for JYI, the five of us were approaching graduation. When we left JYI's Board of Directors we had questions as to the viability and future of JYI because of the inevitably high turnover rate from an undergraduate run organization. Over the last six years as a JYI alumni and part of the Board of Trustees, I have had the honor of seeing remarkable individuals contribute to JYI's leadership and develop different ways of reaching out to undergraduate scientists. Through the constant inflow of talented staff, JYI has flourished more than any of us could have expected.

Frequent turnover of staff and leadership means instillation of new ideas and energy to the journal. One of the major additions to the journal was the science journalism section; a project spearheaded by Mary Patyten. JYI continues to refine the reviewing and publication process; this issue marks the publication of our 100th research article. Since the founding of JYI, we have published 104 original peer reviewed manuscripts and 163 features articles with submissions from 15 different countries. These articles range from the Toxic Effects of Mercury on Survival Rates of the GL Strain Danio rerio (Zebrafish) to Shape Invariance in Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics and its Application to Selected Special Functions of Modern Physics. This past month, the JYI website received 20,000 unique hits.

More importantly, several hundred undergraduates are affiliated with JYI through either publication or being staff members. This network of young scientists is priceless and is something that we hoped would naturally come out of this organization. As an example, I have had the opportunity to mentor several past members of JYI staff regarding the choice of medical school and residency. I know I am not alone when I say that I made some of my best friends through JYI. We currently have 35 science journalists and 45 associate editors with a staff totaling 130. This staff represents over 80 institutions and four different countries.

In eight years, individuals have dedicated hundreds of hours of their undergraduate careers to JYI. Alumni such as Courtney Peterson, Mary Patyten, Anna Miller, and Scott Kemp have been invaluable to JYI. In addition, Dr. Earl Dowell from Duke University has served as a strong anchor for JYI from the very beginning. The tradition of motivated leaders within JYI is strong with Elina Onitskansky from Harvard University and Selby Cull from Hampshire College as our current CEO and Editor-in-Chief respectively. There is a greater volume of electronic and in-person dialogue than ever amongst the members of JYI. Under their leadership, JYI has received its second grant from the Burroughs-Welcome Fund to create a Science Career Center.

As the original founders of JYI have long moved on, I thought it pertinent to report on where they are in their academic careers:

* I am currently an Orthopaedic Surgery resident at Columbia University Medical Center.

* Mr. Andrew Medina-Marino (Chief Executive Officer, 1998, Editor-In-Chief, 1997) is currently a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology.

* Mr. Tim Sibley (Chief Technical Officer, 1997-1998) inspired by JYI created a successful company StreamSage, Inc; a provider of software products that enable organizations to organize and manage audio/video content. In January 2001, Mr. Sibley received an award from the Washington Techway Magazine as one of the top young technology executives in the DC area.

* Dr. Neal Freedman, (Recruitment Officer, 1997-1998) recently graduated from UCSF with a PhD in Biology. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at Harvard University.

* Dr. George Lui (Publications Coordinator 1997-1998) is currently finishing his residency in both medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He has plans to pursue a fellowship in adult and pediatric congenital heart disease.

I can confidently say on behalf of the founders that JYI has gone above what we imagined the fate of this journal to be. I am astounded by the accomplishments of undergraduate scientists and their ability to make endeavors like this one persist. We thank you for successfully fulfilling JYI's mission and look forward to even more growth in the years to come.


Best Regards,

Brian W. Su, MD

Chairperson, Board of Trustees

Chief Financial Officer, 1997-1998

Chief Executive Officer, 1997