Do you ever wonder what daphnia feed on? Or how scientists catch bats in High Park? Do you wonder how to prepare for fieldwork in the Amazon? Or want to nerd out about the scientific shortcomings of Jurassic Park? If so, you may want to check out EEB Quarterly.
Created by graduate students at the University of Toronto’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB), this magazine features articles on everything from how to survive life as a graduate student, to haikus about someone’s favourite organisms to study.
PhD student Sean Anderson launched the magazine in 2018 with the intention of helping graduate students improve their non-technical science writing. Whereas science students are typically trained to write dense, jargon-infused texts, EEB Quarterly is about writing science in a way that is engaging and understandable to read.
“I admire science writing. I basically just wanted to practice it, and I figured other students would, too. And that was sort of the initial inspiration for the whole thing,” said Anderson, EEB Quarterly’s editor-in-chief, to The Varsity.
The magazine has been a hit with EEB graduate students and faculty. Currently, 12 people sit on the editorial board, and dozens more have contributed their writing, art, and photography.
Brought alive with verve and humour, EEB Quarterly tells the funny and riveting stories behind science. Expect photo essays about fieldwork adventures and misadventures, in-depth profiles on study species like daphnia and duckweed, and the odd poem about nature.
Some notable pieces include Christopher Reid’s guide to doing fieldwork in the tropics and Cylita Guy’s fieldwork story of netting bats in High Park. As a bonus, beautiful student photography and artwork pepper the pages of the publication.
EEB Quarterly accepts submissions from all graduate students, and works hard to ensure that it is not competitive. Graduate students face enough competition and rejection in academia, and the magazine’s team does not intend to add to it. Instead, the EEB Quarterly seeks to celebrate the achievements and personalities of students in a friendly environment.
The magazine has evolved into more than just a place to strengthen writing skills, though. By sharing news and celebrating student achievements, the EEB Quarterly also helps foster a sense of community in the department — especially for a department whose members are scattered across U of T’s three campuses.
The process of creating the magazine is highly collaborative. “It does make you feel like you’re part of this community. Everyone’s kind of in this together,” said Anderson. “A lot of work goes into it by a lot of people. And it wouldn’t be possible at all without people volunteering time. No one actually has a lot of time for this, but they volunteer anyway.”
The magazine is not exclusively for EEB graduate students — in fact, it can also serve as a great resource for undergraduate students. The magazine is rich in fun research stories — surely a refreshing break from the dense textbooks that litter our desk. In addition, the magazine offers glimpses into the lives of graduate students, which is insightful to those considering a career in academia.
The editors publish the magazine biannually. The next issue is planned for release this spring.