First Triple Helix in print
Carnegie Mellon students can study pretty much whatever they want, cutting across disciplinary lines to create the perfect course of study. So it seems only natural that the university would join the ranks of other prestigious research institutions by creating a chapter of The Triple Helix, an interdisciplinary college research journal published each semester that focuses on issues surrounding science, society, law, and all related fields in between.
The Triple Helix was founded two years ago by Kevin Hwang of Cornell University. It was brought to Carnegie Mellon by junior business major Mizel Djukic, now the organization’s CEO. In fall 2005, The Triple Helix officially recognized Carnegie Mellon as a chapter. Erin Goldberger, a junior in professional writing, became Carnegie Mellon’s editor-in-chief, and she and Djukic started accepting submissions from writers for their first issue.
“I felt that CMU was missing out on an opportunity to join in on a discussion of interdisciplinary education,” Djukic said. “CMU is such a great school, especially for research, and I was surprised that we didn’t have an organization like it, while other schools we’re competing with did.”
Currently, the organization boasts 28 chapters at universities across four continents, including Oxford University, Melbourne University, the London School of Economics, and the National University of Singapore, as well as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Penn, and MIT.
The publication process is complex. Students must apply for contributing writer status before they even begin choosing topics for their articles. Once the articles are written, they are sent to Cornell, the magazine’s epicenter, and returned to the writers for editing. Writers typically go through three drafts this way before the article is finalized.
The magazine is a combination of international articles, written by students from different chapters within the organization and chosen by Cornell to be printed in all chapter universities’ editions, and Carnegie Mellon articles, which are written exclusively by CMU students and appear only in Carnegie Mellon’s edition.
The Triple Helix is unique in both composition and content. Writers for the journal take issues of science, ethics, law, and a variety of other disciplines, dissect them, and present them in an understandable way to the public, Goldberger said.
Unlike Thought, Carnegie Mellon’s research journal, The Triple Helix doesn’t publish research or technical papers, Goldberger said. In addition, since the editorial process is so time-consuming, the articles are not about timely matters, but delve into more long-term issues that the journal’s audience wouldn’t be able to read about anywhere else.
The first issue of The Triple Helix at Carnegie Mellon featured articles by 10 CMU students, one of which was chosen for the journal’s international section.
The article, written by junior biology major Samantha Conroy, was titled “Edible Vaccines: Transgenic Plant Research Introduces New Vaccine Technology.” The article discusses how vaccines in pill form would increase the availability of vaccines and the ease with which they are taken, hopefully leading to more people choosing to receive vaccinations.
“I’m a biologist, and the connection between biology and how it’s connected to the public isn’t really there,” said Conroy, who is an English minor. “I wanted to take something I was interested in and write about it.”
Conroy said she believes her article was chosen because it is a new and interesting idea that is not on the public’s radar yet but applicable to everyone. She also did her research, including the opinions of four experts on the subject.
Conroy is currently finishing her second article for the journal, which is about carbon nanotubes that can detect and destroy biological weapons.
“[Writing] was a great learning experience,” she said. “I’m going to stay involved as long as I can.”
Goldberger and Djukic are staying busy too, submitting their writers’ third drafts to Cornell for this semester’s upcoming issue. The two predict that the new journal will be in print by the beginning of the fall 2007 semester.
In addition, they have been updating the journal’s website, (http://www.thetriplehelix.org), which posts articles that are too timely to be included in the print issue.
Beginning this semester, Djukic will be working on implementing a science policy division of the organization, which will encourage all chapters to bring policy-related events to their campuses.
“We want to create a global forum for science in society,” Djukic said.
Djukic and Goldberger encourage students who are interested in writing for The Triple Helix to e-mail them at (mdjukic@).