Catherine Owsik, 21, is a fourth-year biology student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Nerve magazine, a monthly student-run science, technology and engineering publication available online ( www.nervemag.ca). Follow her on Twitter as @KasiaNotKesha. Questions and answers have been edited.
Q: What first sparked your interest in biology?
My parents. They both fostered a great interest in animals and the environment, so that’s what started it from a young age. A natural curiosity kept that going.
Q: How did Nerve magazine get its start?
I had two years experience working at my school newspaper, the Queen’s Journal. It’s mostly student news, sports, stuff like that. I was an assistant news editor, so I was writing a lot of news stories about campus politics, funding. …
I found that I really wanted to write more about science. One night I was writing a story about student elections, and it was driving me crazy.
So this idea popped into my head that I should start up a science magazine, because our campus hasn’t had anything like that before and there wasn’t really any outlet for me.
I had these skills: I knew how to write, I knew how to do layout. So I would just do it as a project for myself.
And I did, and I found that the student population actually had an interest in the project as well, which was a nice little surprise.
Q: Is your work in science helping your work as a journalist?
I think so. That’s why I’m doing a thesis project.
I knew that I didn’t want to go into research, but I did it so I could understand the research method. I understand how to pipette, how to do all those calculations. It really has helped in terms of understanding the science and understanding where the scientists are coming from.
Q: What’s the future for Nerve?
I’m going to hopefully expand it. At the ScienceOnline conference in Raleigh, I was speaking to a professor from the University of British Columbia and she said there really weren’t many science publications available for science students.
Science writing is a big skill that science students need to work on, so I think with Nerve I’m going to start taking stories from other Canadian universities and science students.