Commentaries

Commentaries are short articles (around 1000 words) which can address a variety of issues relating to research, mentoring or scholarship. Topics might include a research experience, the social and political implications of a line of research, the application of an academic theory to current events, observations about academic life here at the University of New Hampshire or elsewhere—or something entirely different that the editors have not envisioned. Commentaries are usually focused more on personal experience than are research articles, and may be written by students, faculty or staff at UNH. Graduates of the University are encouraged to look back on their undergraduate research experience and its place in their personal and professional lives.

Nuclear Physics Applications Through the Lens of Undergraduate Research

Nuclear physics is a broad and nuanced field that often is not well understood by the general public. Frequently in discussing my research with friends and family, I find that using the word nuclear can be enough to either prompt a separate discussion on nuclear weapons and meltdowns or, worse, make their eyes glaze over in pure boredom. Furthermore, there is a lack of accessible literature on the topic, making nuclear physics even more nebulous to the public.

Why Is Our Politics So Polarized? The New Hampshire Political System and the Rural/Urban Split

During the summer of 2020, I conducted research on polarization in the New Hampshire state legislature. I was inspired to investigate this topic primarily through my personal experience growing up in rural Coös county in northern New Hampshire and coming to college at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in a much more urban area of the state. I noticed stark differences in political attitudes between the two areas.

Becoming a Researcher During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research is defined by the unknown. From scientific breakthroughs to art interpretation, research subjects are as diverse as research methods. Whether it be spending hours on the library floor exploring archival data, or treating the laboratory as a secondary home for months on end to run experiments, typical research activities greatly vary between the disciplines. 

LGBTQ+ Oral History: The Power of Community and Individual Stories

As each year draws to a close, many of us reflect on the events of the year and how to improve the world in which we live. I believe many learned the importance of inclusion in 2020. In order to move forward as a society, we must include those who have been historically marginalized, such as women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, to name just a few. I believe that in order to make progress, whether it be for one specific group or society as a whole, studying history is more important than ever.

Uruguayan Marijuana Decriminalization: Crime Rates, Support Levels, and Implications for the United States

The issue of marijuana legalization is coming to a turning point in American society, and it is clear that we are trending toward a total policy change. It is crucial to look internationally at different systems of legalization and decriminalization to determine which system would be the most successful here in the United States. I want our society to be governed by a set of laws that is fair and rational, a set of laws that at least the majority of citizens can believe in—laws that do more good than harm.

Growing as an Undergraduate Researcher and the Benefits of Directed Research

Scientific research has become the foundation for much of today’s public policy, medicine, lifestyle choices, and financial investments. We generally conduct research to learn more about the world and maybe find objective truth in the process, like the truth we have found in the existence of gravity and time. In many ways, science has allowed us to improve our quality of life and our society as a whole. Because of this, we take science seriously and try to maximize its success by investing in it, giving it structure, and treating it with rigor.

Can Utilitarianism Improve the US Criminal Justice System? An Evaluation of Punishment and the Utility Calculus

Utilitarianism is a philosophy that values the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people (Driver 2014). Utilitarianism was created by European philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill throughout the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Bentham believed that when a government is based on utilitarianism, a system of law and reason is created that values happiness as its foremost principle (Bentham 1789). To provide a mechanism for utilitarianism to be applied to governmental policy, Benthem created the utility calculus.

From Farm to Fork: A Firsthand Investigation into New Hampshire’s Food System

When you go to the grocery store and pick out a head of lettuce, have you ever thought about who produced it? Where it was produced? How many people were involved in the production, distribution, and sale of that single item?

author

The author, Alex Papadakis.

Looking into the Eye with REAP

My academic and professional interests took root long before I came to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) to study bioengineering. Encouraged by my parents to explore, ask questions, and experiment with my own creative designs as a child, I developed a device named the Micro Sling Shot, built a cell phone charger, and engineered what I referred to as the Smiley Faced Pull Toy, all from household items. My intellectual curiosity included all things science, and I was fascinated with how and why things work as they do. 

How Do Families Try to Survive Yemen’s Brutal War? Following a Spiral of Research to Unexpected Conclusions

To care about an issue, we need to know it exists in the first place. One of my first memories of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is of sitting in a lecture hall listening intently to a speaker explain why we should care about nuclear proliferation. I left the lecture with a good understanding of why we should care, and I couldn’t help but wish that more of my fellow students had been able to attend and become informed about this important issue. I concluded that one needs to know that an issue exists in order to have any interest in acquiring more information.

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