Not just lectures and teaching
I like to have a good mix of articles, to help readers see what goes on in the department outside of lectures and teaching, and to also highlight areas of chemistry that people might not have considered before - for example the chemistry of volcanoes or the science behind fizzy drinks. We normally try to have at least one interview with someone connected to the department, such as a member of staff or a famous alumnus. The team decide on the content, depending on what interests they have. If they are particularly interested in one area of chemistry, or have recently attended a particularly interesting guest lecture, I encourage them to write something based on that. If there are any notable news items that any of us have heard about, we include those as well – such as the naming of the new elements or the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
The length of time we spend working on each issue depends on how many articles we have. Normally at the beginning of each semester, we have meetings with the team and start to suggest article ideas and gather information. There are normally a few months where each team member works on their articles, and then the design editors and myself get together towards the end of the semester to put each article into the newsletter itself. The design is then worked on over the vacations so that it is ready for the first few weeks of the next term.
In terms of writing, it normally takes about 3 months, and then another month or so to put it all together. I try and ensure people can get involved and help out without it interfering with their studies or work commitments, especially around exam and revision time.
A team effort
As editor, I do a little bit of most things: recruit team members, lead meetings, proof read the articles once they are complete, and assist with the design and copy-editing. I do also write the odd article, however I mainly oversee what goes on – Resonance wouldn't be anywhere without the team and the previous editors and contributors who helped to get the newsletter started. Each edition involves 10-15 people, including our design editors.
For the last issue I interviewed Helen Sharman (an alumnus of the department and the first Briton in space), which was great, I'll never forget it! I never thought I would be interviewing someone who has been to space! Probably the most rewarding part is actually holding the printed issue. I'm always really pleased when people tell me which articles they enjoyed the most and discuss the topics we have covered in the issue. It's very rewarding to know that we are sparking discussions and helping people to see what goes on in the department.
Rising to the challenge
The biggest challenge has probably been learning about what being an editor involves, and actually leading the whole process from start to finish. I had no experience of this or producing something like a newsletter, so this was a big one for me! I tried to think about what I would like to see in the next edition, and how we could achieve that as a team. Managing a team, coordinating articles and leading meetings were new to me but I really enjoyed the challenge.
I’ve loved my time as editor. I've got to know some great people and I have learnt so much - from using design software, to project and people management, chairing meetings to copy-editing. It would not have been half as enjoyable without the commitment, enthusiasm and creativity of the students that have been a part of the team. They have helped to make the newsletter what it is today and they deserve a huge thank you! I hope that the next editor has as much fun as I have had, it's been a great experience and I'm very proud of the final results we have produced.
You can find out more about Resonance and read the latest and previous issues on the University of Sheffield chemistry department webpages at shef.ac.uk/chemistry/news_newsletters/resonance