Making Science Matter

February 9, 2022
Matter Magazine

When Emma Chen ’22 arrived at Exeter as a prep from Shanghai, China, she followed her twin interests in science and art to MATTER, Exeter’s student-run science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, publication.

As an illustrator, Chen enjoys drawing cartoon cells and other vivid, colorful images for the magazine’s wide array of articles, which aim to make science relevant and accessible for everyone in the Exeter community. “Working with MATTER really helped me get to know other people interested in STEM,” says Chen, now the magazine’s co-editor-in-chief along with Lina Huang ’22. “It’s especially important because a lot of students do research outside of Exeter and I feel like we don’t really get to know about it, because on campus everyone’s just doing schoolwork.”

Since its launch in 2013, MATTER has grown to include eight co-editors and more than 100 writers and other contributors. The magazine’s content is driven entirely by its student writers and editors, and the topics they see as relevant to themselves and their peers.

“We’re bringing science to the Exeter community in a way that connects with our unique positions as students at this school,” Huang says. In addition to print and online issues, the magazine has a sleek website, an active Instagram presence and a regular column in The Exonian.

With the pandemic’s arrival, science became relevant to everyone’s lives in a new way. As Huang puts it: “Science doesn’t operate in a vacuum.” The magazine’s most recent issue, published last May when students were back on campus together, dedicated an entire section to COVID-19, including stories on vaccines and how to combat the pandemic’s effects on mental health. Separate sections tackled other of-the-moment topics, such as environmental racism, the Elizabeth Holmes trial, and breakthrough research on the effect of trauma on our genes.

Chen, Huang and their fellow MATTER magazine club members plan to publish two issues this school year, including an installment focused specifically on science at Exeter. “We’re really zooming in on our classmates and teachers, and all the research they’re doing,” Chen says.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the winter 2022 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.