—Sarah Nicholls and Anna Scheifele


For the past two decades, the University of New Hampshire’s Inquiry journal has been a platform for undergraduate researchers from all disciplines to share their projects with a broader audience. As one of the longest-running undergraduate research journals in the country, Inquiry has published over 240 articles in subjects ranging from Lyme disease treatment to the connection between music and emotional wellbeing. Today, Inquiry, a publication of the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research, has an editorial staff of six, including two professional staff editors and four student editors. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its creation, the co-authors of this piece—two members of the student editorial board—took a trip down Inquiry’s memory lane. 

The Inquiry story starts eighteen years before the journal’s conception, when the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), now the Hamel Center, was established by founding director Donna Brown. After spending a year getting off the ground, UROP launched its academic-year grants in 1987 and its Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) opportunities two years later. At the time, UROP was one of the few programs for undergraduate research in the country.  

“The response from faculty and students at the outset was very positive,” says Brown, whose own experience with research began when she was a PhD candidate conducting a political philosophy study at the Huntington Library in California. “From the beginning, I felt that the mission of the program should be educational at every point in the research process. We were not just a funding agency.”  

As UROP grew in size and popularity, with help from a generous donation from numerous alumni and a longtime benefactor of the university, Dana Hamel, students began traveling to conferences and pursuing publication in journals to share their findings with the public. However, both presentations and publications could be expensive, limiting the number of students able to participate. Then Brown had an idea: What if UROP established its own research journal specifically for UNH undergraduates? In the early 2000s, the internet was experiencing a period of exponential growth, and an online journal would both reduce costs and give researchers greater exposure. 

Enter Jennifer Lee, Inquiry’s first editor. When she came into this role in 2004, she was preparing to retire from teaching before Brown asked her to be editor of the journal. With plenty of experience throughout her career teaching literature and French, and as assistant director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, Lee was more than qualified for the job. During the twelve years spent on the editorial board, she encountered all kinds of challenges, was introduced to fascinating and diverse subjects, and met many intelligent, interesting students and faculty.  

To Lee, her mentorship and coaching allowed her to create an environment of teamwork between herself and her student authors. She easily came to an objective: “Communicating a specialized subject in an interesting and clear way was a means to a larger end: publishing their work to the world, to an international, educated general audience.” Her versatility as both a mentor and a collaborator strengthened her connections with students and built the foundation of Inquiry. Lee retrospectively notes that, “Editing Inquiry was the perfect job, and, in addition, I was working with the best of the best. They challenged me.” 

To reflect on the wide impact Inquiry has had on the UNH community in the past twenty years, we asked several alumni authors to discuss how their research and publication experience has influenced their life beyond UNH. From one of the first students ever to be funded by UROP to a current second-year undergraduate, their answers are surprising, heartwarming, and, above all, deeply insightful as to what it means to be a researcher and writer.  

Igniting Passion  

When students come to Inquiry, they seek more than just a publication of their work, but a means to articulate their passion for research in a wide range of disciplines and to share their experiences with general audiences. Dr. Jessica Cawley (Music Education ’06) found a lifelong passion in writing her article on traditional Irish music for Inquiry. After completing research through the Hamel Center’s International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) in her junior year of college in Ireland, she went on to become the first in her family to complete a PhD and conducted postdoctoral research in Ireland on the same topic. In 2021, she published her first book, Becoming an Irish Traditional Musician, all stemming from her first foray into research and writing through Inquiry. She asserts that the level of work and detail in that first writing process made her “realize that difficult things are possible.”  

Jaylyn Jewell (Nursing ’24) echoes this sentiment, describing her publishing experience with Inquiry as the thing that boosted her confidence in writing and improved her ability to tackle tough assignments and papers. “Inquiry taught me a great amount about the publishing process and gave me the tools to pursue research further,” she says. Jewell is enrolled in the accelerated master’s program at UNH and hopes to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, a field that aligns with the research she wrote about in Inquiry.  

Violet stands in front of a screen, communicating with her research subject who wears a mask and runs on a treadmill in the background. Another research assistant is visible in the far background.

Violet Sullivan

As undergraduate research ignites student’s passions, the writing process helps them translate that to readers. John Heavisides (Physics ’15) a former author who has since become a medical engineer for medical startups in Boston shares, “Having a passion is a wonderful thing, but learning how to communicate that joy will open doors you may have never known existed.”   He believes that writing for Inquiry helped him develop effective communication skills, especially in his field.  

Recent graduate of UNH, Violet Sullivan (Exercise Science ’23), saw her publication with Inquiry as a window for others to see the research she’d been conducting throughout her career at UNH: “Inquiry is an excellent way to share your research and passion for a topic in a widely accessible and simplified manner. I enjoyed putting together my article to explain my research to friends, family, and the broader UNH community.”  Fardeen Siddiqui (Biotechnology ’22) also found it rewarding to broadcast his work beyond the ivory tower, offering “a chance to share your work with the community.” Today, both Sullivan and Siddiqui are pursuing graduate degrees—at the University of New England and New York University, respectively— with the goal of becoming physicians.   

Sharpening Communication Skills 

After completing months or years of a grueling project, completing interviews, exploring archives, testing models, or examining data, the researchers published in Inquiry face one of their biggest hurdles yet: actually writing. For many, writing had no part in their research process, so beginning their articles was a large, and sometimes frustrating, change. “I was not used to the editing process,” Lina Faller (Computer Science ‘08) says. “It felt painful at times, but the end result was very much worth it.” 

This latter sentiment was reflected by each author as they rose to the challenge of crafting well-written, informative articles and gaining skills that would last a lifetime. “Writing clearly and concisely to a broad audience is both incredibly difficult and incredibly important,” says Douglas Holmes (Chemistry ’04). Now an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University, Holmes was one of the first authors ever published in Inquiry. Twenty years later, he still exercises the technical writing skills learned during the publication process. In fact, his engineering research has recently been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Matter and Physical Review Letters

These journals, along with many others, are heavily specified for an extremely niche field. Inquiry, on the other hand, is geared towards a general audience. This places authors in the unique position of having to break down their complex research subjects in a way that is easily accessible for non-experts. Samuel Meehan (Physics ’09) humorously recalls his struggles to define the physics term “particle” in a simple enough manner to satisfy his editor but concedes that his efforts were worth the while. As a science advisor and diplomat at the U.S. Department of State, he recalls this moment any time he is asked to clarify a term or phrase.  “Describing technical things in plain language... can break down silos, making science approachable to all, and lead to new people-to-people connections.”  

Dylan Wheeler

The author, Dylan Wheeler. Photo by Jeremy Gasowski.

Along with improving their ability to clearly explain their work, Inquiry authors have cited their experience with the journal in strengthening their collaborative skills. “Publishing a commentary or article in the Inquiry journal is the perfect way to learn as you go,” notes Alexandra Papadakis (Nutrition: Dietetics & EcoGastronomy ’21), whose research involved investigating and educating others on the New Hampshire food system. “[You] learn how to... edit and revise your work and ultimately incorporate feedback from others.” 

Even alumni authors who do not use much writing in their current studies or careers are still able to utilize the techniques they learned during the Inquiry process. Software engineer Dylan Wheeler (Information Technology & Philosophy ’20) spends much of his time at work creating code, which, “like any written piece, needs to be clear and understandable for other engineers.” Wheeler has first-hand experience with interpreting others’ code, as the research he wrote about in Inquiry—an analysis of the reliability of artificial intelligence—required him to examine large swaths of code from open-access repositories. 

Throughout her undergraduate career, Margarethe Hauschildt (Exercise Science ’17) was very familiar with writing lab reports and abstracts, but when she published her research with Inquiry, writing about her own work and experience opened her eyes to a new perspective of both writing and research. “I was allowed to have my own voice and relive my research process,” she says, “which was unlike anything I had done before.” She went on to earn her doctorate in physical therapy at Columbia University, and shares that “the way I was able to discuss my undergraduate research and my future plans in Inquiry was an experience I value and helped lead me toward the career I have today.”  

Beyond Undergraduate Research 

Nicholas Mantis (Microbiology ’88), one of the first UROP recipients, touts the importance of effective communication beyond graduation: “The capacity to communicate ideas to peers and professional colleagues is one of the most coveted skills in the workplace” he says. “There is no better venue than Inquiry to start to hone that skill.”  Following his time at UNH, Mantis pursued a career in microbiology and infectious diseases, and is happy to continue this path as Chief Scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health.  

Stevens sits in an archive room at a desk with documents in front of her and a laptop on the desk as well. She is turning and smiling at the camera.

Courtney Stevens

The ability to communicate research and other highly technical information in a formal, understandable manner is a skill that is both high in demand and relatively low in supply, according to Courtney J. Stevens (Psychology ’10). Stevens, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and a licensed clinical psychologist with around forty scholarly publications, notes that she frequently encounters both undergraduate and graduate students who have very little experience with academic writing. “This is a major area of weakness for many to overcome,” she says, going on to detail the importance of developing writing skills early on in one’s academic career, “I owe a lot to my undergraduate advisors and research mentors who pushed me to write up my work for Inquiry.” 

As exemplified by many alumni authors, the experience of writing for Inquiry is a highlight on any resume that can help researchers stand out to employers and graduate schools. Take Corina Danielson (Wildlife and Conservation Biology ’19), for example. When she was brought on as a natural resource specialist and park ranger for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the hiring committee said her article made her one of their top candidates. As a park ranger, she spends much of her career preparing museum exhibits and self-guided tours, requiring that she break down topics in wildlife biology for a general audience—just as she did years before in her Inquiry article, which covered the diets of small mammals. 

Unlike Danielson, Caitlin Morneau (Music ’10) did not stay in the same field as the work she published in Inquiry, a study on the correlations between music and emotion. Instead, she currently works as a restorative justice activist with Catholic Mobilizing Network, but her article was still able to open doors in her career. “Going into job applications... my Inquiry article [told] a story about not only the work I was capable of undertaking, but also my character,” she says. “Writing for Inquiry was my first invitation to... [discuss] not simply the research methods and outcomes but... how it impacted me personally.”  

Looking Ahead 

During the past twenty years of publication, Inquiry has become a valued resource to many of its authors, students, and faculty while proudly showcasing the unique skills and passions of each individual researcher. Faculty mentor Paula Mouser sees writing for Inquiry as “an awesome experience for a student to be mentored through this process and to have an opportunity to see their work in print for a wide audience.” Looking ahead, Inquiry anticipates a promising future, as it will continue to offer recognition and new opportunities for researchers and writers.   

After decades of devoted service to the UNH research community, Brown and Lee have both retired. Inquiry’s current staff editorial board includes Senior Editor Brigid Carroll Casellini (Horticulture ’98), who began working with Lee on the second issue of Inquiry in 2006, and has worked on every issue since, and Editor Valerie Moyer, who in 2023 took up the torch from Erin Trainer, who succeeded Lee. Along with this change in personnel, the journal has also grown quantitatively over its twenty-year tenure, including a recent website redesign. Once a single issue published every spring, Inquiry now includes a fall issue and its staff editors run the Hamel Center’s Undergraduate Research Blog, where student researchers share insight into the research process.  

Looking ahead, Inquiry anticipates a promising future, and the core objective will always remain the same: to grant young researchers a voice in communicating their research to a wide audience beyond their discipline. Perhaps this is most concisely articulated by Melanie Yelle (Finance ’26), a current undergraduate whose Research Experience Apprenticeship Program grant from the Hamel Center unlocked her passion for research. She is looking forward to delving further into research while at UNH and emphatically advocates the journal’s purpose and process, adding, “Inquiry allows students from other disciplines, or disciplines similar to your own, to see and recognize your hard work.” No matter the discipline, Inquiry is a journal that welcomes all students who are eager to learn more about the world of research and writing.  



Jessica Cawley, Investigating the Ways the Irish Learn Music (Spring ‘06) 

Corina Danielson, What Influences Seed Selection by Small Mammals? (Spring ‘19) 

Lina Faller, Thinking Outside the Box: Using Computer Science to Make Sense of the Biology of Life (Spring ‘16) & Bioinformatics: Merging Computer Science and Genetics (Spring ‘07) 

Margarethe Hauschildt, Does Foam Rolling Really Work? (Spring ‘17) 

John Heavisides, Higher Levels of Confusion: Rocket Sensors in the Northern Lights (Spring ‘15) 

Douglas Holmes, Controlling the Morphology of Composite Latex Particles (Spring ‘05) 

Jaylyn Jewell, Conducting Undergraduate Research to Honor the Voices of Sexual and Gender Minority People Receiving Inpatient Mental Health Care (Spring ‘22) 

Nicholas Mantis, Getting Down to the Business of Science: How Undergraduate Research Derailed My Career Plan and Put Me on a Path to Professional Success (Spring ‘12)  

Samuel Meehan, Pure Science and So Much More: Particle Detector Development in France (Spring ‘09) 

Caitlin Morneau, Music in the Mountains: Music’s Relation to Emotion for Individuals in Central Appalachia (Spring ‘10) 

Sarah Nicholls,  Using Spatial Transcriptomics to Investigate Gene Expression in Cactus Mice (Spring ‘23) 

Alexandra Papadakis, From Farm to Fork: A Firsthand Investigation into New Hampshire’s Food System (Spring ‘19) 

Fardeen Siddiqui, Exploring the Isolation of a Bacteriophage as an Alternative Treatment to Lyme Disease (Fall ‘21) 

Courtney Stevens, Mind Body Medicine a Hundred Years Ago: An Eclectic, New England Approach to Psychotherapy (Spring ‘10) 

Violet Sullivan, Cardiorespiratory and Metabolic Responses to Low-Intensity Blood Flow Restricted Running (Spring ‘23) 

Dylan Wheeler, Living in a World Where Seeing Is No Longer Believing: Artificial Intelligence as a Disinformation Engine (Spring ‘20) 

Melanie Yelle, Analysis of the Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (Fall ‘23)