Meet JURPA Editor Will Slaton

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Meet JURPA Editor Will Slaton


JURPA editor Will Slaton shows off the latest issues of the journal.

Will Slaton is one of the editors of the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics and Astronomy (JURPA) and professor and director of engineering physics at the University of Central Arkansas. Radiations recently sat down with Slaton to find out why he thinks JURPA is important.

Do you remember writing your first paper? What was it like?

YES! My first paper was when I was a graduate student. I helped wrap up some loose ends for a graduating PhD student. I vividly remember doing a little dance when I found out I would be included as an author!

How did you get involved in JURPA?

I opened my big mouth at an SPS Council meeting about resurrecting the journal from a period of dormancy when I was zone councilor for Zone 10. The director at the time, Brad Conrad, took that as a sign to get me involved in JURP (now JURPA)! I've always been an advocate for undergraduate research experiences that enhance physical understanding in a meaningful way beyond textbook or canned laboratory experiences. A friend and I even started an endowed fund at our university that supports undergraduate STEM research.

Why is it important for undergrads to have the opportunity to publish papers in a student journal? What are some of the skills they develop along the way?

A quote from the popular MythBusters TV show highlights the importance of publishing: "Remember, kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down."

In that context the phrase referred to taking and recording meaningful data, but in the broader sense, if you don't write a thesis or publish your research, that is a missed opportunity for science—and for you personally. A journal like JURPA that is dedicated to excellent undergraduate research is a great opportunity for students to experience publishing and peer review in a supportive environment. Additionally, students can put these publications on their CV to demonstrate to graduate schools, employers, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award committees, and others that they can do meaningful research and write it up.

Who reviews JURPA submissions?

Manuscripts are peer reviewed by professionals in the field. Sometimes fairly big names will agree to gently review a student manuscript and offer feedback. Many of the professional scientists who review these manuscripts are very supportive of journals like JURPA and the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback to undergraduates. They understand that they are supporting the pipeline of future physicists and astronomers.

What kind of responses do you get from authors when you tell them their papers have been accepted to JURPA?

Student authors are always excited and joyful when they learn their final manuscript has been selected for publication.  

JURPA 2023 Table of Contents

  • Improving Out-of-Field Preparation of High School Physics Teachers
  • Optimization of an Active Leveling Scheme for a Short-Range Gravity Experiment
  • On the Necessity of Canonical Momentum Over mv Momentum, Illustrated with Perturbations on the Classical Ideal Gas
  • Temperature Dependence of the Static Friction Coefficient of Common Recyclable Polymers
  • The Cosmic Ray Rate in Earth’s Atmosphere
  • Utilization of Magnetically Induced Jamming in a Novel Soft Robotic Gripper
  • Contributing to a Greener New York: Analysis of Methane Emissions in New York State
  • Measuring dn/dc for Polysaccharide Microgels of Varying Crosslinking Density
  • Developing an Interactive Simulation for Noninertial Reference Frames
  • Characterization of Iron Oxide Samples Using Mössbauer Spectroscopy and Hysteresis Loops
  • Response of a Liquid 3He Neutron Detector

Read the papers at


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